Tweaking WordPress Permalinks For Best SEO

WordPress SEO Permalinks

Permalinks are important. Permalinks in WordPress are the URLs that you see in your browser’s address bar.

Permalinks are one of the few prominent elements that appear in search engine results, therefore, it is really important to give them the best structure.

Short URLs with less clutter and more actual words fare better than those dynamically generated and with a whole lot of unnecessary strings and numbers attached. Search engines as well as human beings find the former a lot easier to read.

I contend that the shorter the URL the better. The reason is obvious, the longer URLs confuse the user, and the mouse pointer automatically goes to click the link which has a shorter, more compact URL. It’s just the way we normally see things; simple looks pretty.

Now, which one of the following is going to get my attention first?

Google Search Results

Cut Off The WWW

WWW that precedes your URLs is unnecessary and should be gotten rid of.

To redirect the url with WWW to new no-WWW URLs you need to add the following lines to your .htaccess file (located in your WordPress root directory) replacing domain with your own domain name.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.domain.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://domain.com/$1 [R=301]

Apart from that, go to Options > General in WordPress Admin and enter your URL in WordPress address and Blog Address without WWW.

Yay! Good bye WWW!

Tweak WordPress Permalink Structure

In WordPress the first thing you need to do is get rid of default permalink structure via Options > Permalink. WordPress gives you complete control over how you want to customize your permalinks.

Having rejected the default structure you have three other options left:

  1. Date and name based (No thanks, it’s too long)
  2. Numeric (Umm.. no, we hate numbers alone)
  3. Custom (Now we are talking!)

So you are going to enter custom structure tags in the Custom field. On WordPress codex you can learn more about how a combination of structure tags can be used to customize the permalinks to the hilt.

We are looking for brevity i.e., shorter URLs, so the only thing you are going to enter is /%postname%/

This gives us the shortest possible permalink structure: http://domain.com/post-name/

On the same page, there is another optional field named Category base. And while you are at it, you are going to make use of it too. You are going to enter a short word to replace the word category that is attached to your category URLs. Let’s enter /tag here (or anything else that is shorter than the word category)

Again, yay for getting rid of clutter!

Long Titles Short Permalinks

As opposed to short permalinks, your post titles need to be fairly long, because titles are the first thing searchers see when your posts appear in Google search results. So, a title should summarize the whole post in at least six or seven words. Although we know the importance of titles, we do not want the titles to stretch our permalinks to fill up the whole address bar!

Luckily, when on Write Post page, you can make use of Post Slug sub-panel, located on the right side of your Write Post panel, and add custom permalinks for every post!

For example if your title reads “Learn the art of blogging” you can enter “learn-to-blog” in Post Slug. You leave out the unimportant words and keep the main key words.

Yet again, A big YAY for structring the shortest yet meaningful permalinks!

By doing all I have suggested above you make sure that your URLs are going to look pretty in search engine results, and you are going to force the searchers to click through to your blog.

Do you know of any more tips that I should add?

33 comments so far and counting

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