How To Use Permalinks For Blog SEO?

How To Use Permalinks For Blog SEO?

If you use the blogging platform WordPress, you must be familiar with Permalinks. This is a simple but very effective feature you can use for Blog SEO which allows you to optimize the URL of your blog post for search engines as well as your audience.

Using optimized permalinks with keywords and keyword phrases related to your post not only gets your post ranked higher in search engines but also makes your site look professional. Besides SEO, this customizable feature also provides great user-friendly benefit which many WordPress users are not usually aware of.

So what is a Permalink?

Permalink is a permanent link or an URL to a particular blog post. When you publish your post, WordPress automatically uses question mark followed by some numbers as a default URL. This default URL looks very unprofessional. Luckily, you can create your own custom URL using the permalink feature. This is permanent and should not be changed after it has been set.

As you gradually build your blog by writing contents, you are going to link internally to other posts in your blog. On top of that, other bloggers and web developers who want to share your post, link to it by using the URL of the post. But when you change the URL, all the links result into hitting the error 404 page. This makes your post to lose the ranking in the search engines as the traffic cannot get to that page.

To use the permalink feature, your hosting has to be Apache server with mod_rewrite module enabled. Nearly all the Linux web hosting has this configuration. If not, you need to ask your web host about this. Note that Windows server does not support mod_rewrite. So make sure you have the right server to start with.

WordPress provides permalink options in the settings tab in the dashboard. After your permalink is set to the desired option, you can edit and customize it by clicking on the edit button right underneath your title where you edit your post.

There are different formats of permalinks you can use. However, to optimize your blog for the keywords you have used on your post, you should use the date and name based or custom permalinks.

Permalink settings in WordPress Dashboard

Date and name based permalink is a popular option. This option inserts the date in which you created your post, in front of the post name. Your post name is created using your post title unless you change your post slug manually.

Using custom permalinks for blog SEO:

/%category%/%postname%/ is the best custom permalink structure you can use for search engine optimization. In this structure, you use the category in which your post is categorized and the name of the post which makes your post more optimized for the keywords you use in the category and the post name.

If you categorize your post in child categories as well then both parent and child categories will be displayed respectively. If your post is categorized in multiple categories then the one with top category ID will be displayed in the url. Category IDs are given to the categories in the order they were created. Be careful about assigning a new category to a post. If you assign a post to a new category and that new category happens to have top category ID then the whole URL of your post is going to change, effecting your search engine optimization.

If your posts are not well categorized then the best permalink structure to use is /%postname%/. This is to display just the post name in the URL. This can be used if you are not sure about which category you should put the post in.

/%category%/%postname%.html can be used if you want to show your posts as static html pages.

How to change your permalink ?

If your blog is well established then it is not wise to change the permalinks. However, if you are unsure about the categories you have picked for a post or you need to change the url of your post, then you can use 301 redirects to direct the old url to a new url. This is a SEO friendly way of redirecting your urls. To use 301 redirect you need .htaccess file. This is a file that Apache servers use for input from webmasters. This file is important for redirecting and should be put in the root directory of your site. If it is not available then you can create one using text editors like the notepad. To create a .htaccess file simply open a notepad and save it as .htaccess and upload in the root directory of your site.

To create a 301 redirect, open the .htaccess file and just type in the following:

redirect 301 /old postname/ http://www.yousite.com/new postname/

where the /old postname/ is your post name that you want to change and the new redirected url is http://www.yoursite.com/new postname/

Then save the file, upload it back in the root directory and test your redirects.

Do you think all this is too much work?…Well, you can also use permalinks migration plugin developed by Dean Lee which creates 301 redirects for you. This plugin helps you migrate from one permalink structure to another without any effect on your visitors or SEO.

User-friendly feature of Permalinks:

Permalink structures can also be used for their awesome user-friendly feature. If you use category or date based permalinks, your site’s visitors can search the posts based on the category or date.

For instance, if the category you have assigned to a post is blogtips and the URL of the post is http://www.yourwebsite.com/blogtips/permalinks-for-blog-seo/, your visitors can enter http://www.yourwebsite.com/blogtips/ in the internet browser to get all the post under the category blogtips.

Similarly if the permalink for your post is date based e.g. http://www.yourwebsite.com/2010/09/12/permalinks-for-blog-seo/, your visitors can simply put http://www.yourwebsite.com/2010/ in the internet browser to get all the post written in 2010 or http://www.yourwebsite.com/2010/09/, to get all the post from September 2010 and so on.

How do you use your permalinks to optimize your site? Do you know of any other ways to use permalinks for your site effectively? Please feel free to leave comments to share your thoughts or contribute….Also, if you like this post or find it helpful Tweet it, share it in Facebook or any of your favorite social media outlets.

Here’s to your successful online endeavor!

-Adam Paudyal.

Before you go...

18 Responses to How To Use Permalinks For Blog SEO?

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Adam Paudyal, Adam Paudyal. Adam Paudyal said: How To Use Permalinks For Blog SEO? http://bit.ly/dwx5W1 [...]

  2. Thu Nguyen says:

    Hi Adam,

    Permalinks are definitely the way to go if SEO or monetizing your site down the future is something you want to head towards. Not only that, you’ve mentioned the finer points:

    - it looks professional
    - it looks clean
    - it’s optimized with keywords

    I normally use the custom with /%postname%/. It’s shorter and less obtrusive to readers. However, when I write my post I also change the permalink again as my titles tend to be long and not every word such as ‘the’, ‘a’ or ‘is’, etc should be optimized.

    I’m overly impressed though that you’ve covered everything from the description, how to and even went further to provide plugins for help. This will be handy for newbies.

    Keep writing like this Adam and soon you’ll get that ebook to give away to build your list. ;)

    Looking forward to your next post!
    Thu
    Thu Nguyen recently posted..Remembering September 11th- Before the AftermathMy Profile

  3. Adam Paudyal says:

    Hi,

    Exactly Thu..The importance of keyword optimized URL is crucial for SEO and like you mentioned, if one is thinking about monetizing the site in future, this is the way to go.

    I use custom permalinks /%postname%/ as well..It makes the URL short, clean and visually charming….Totally agreed Thu…

    Can’t wait to get that e-book ready….

    Thanks Thu…

  4. Steve says:

    Very important info on using permalinks. The custom structure you showed is by far the best bet for SEO purposes, leaving all the others in the dust.

    Not only that, but as you said, it simply makes it look so much more professional.

    Thankfully I had the permalinks done the “right” way from the beginning. The idea of redirecting everything is a true nightmare, but you gave some wonderful information on ways that this could be done too!
    Steve recently posted..How to Become a Freelance WriterMy Profile

  5. Adam Paudyal says:

    Hey Steve,

    Custom permalink structures sure does leave other options in the dust.

    I totally agree with you on how much of a nightmare it is if you ever have to change the permalinks. I also have a bad experience with this when I tried to transfer one of my static websites into WordPress platform.

  6. Patricia says:

    Hi Adam
    Well this technically challenged newbie actually has got this one right….yeah :-)
    Only cos my blogging coach taught me and I just carry it out to the letter. I so don’t understand it all but your post has made it much clearer. I am enjoying your posts as you put it in language that even this newbie can understand. Thanks
    Patricia Perth Australia
    Patricia recently posted..Lavender……aromatic herb or noxious weed!!My Profile

    • Adam Paudyal says:

      Hey Patricia,

      You are very welcome. I am glad you enjoyed the post and got a clearer picture about permalinks.

      Thanks a lot for stopping by and leaving a great feedback. Really appreciate it.

  7. Fran Aslam says:

    Hi Paudyal:

    Wow great post and very informative, everyone will like to read it.

    I have a question for you, My permalink got changed when I downloaded Word Press 3.1.0 ( something like that) now I get a short link and this link does not have the keywords that I use for creating an optimized title of the blog post. In other words I am reducing the chances of being indexed or my link getting the right traffic from back links etc.

    What do you suggest?
    Please email me a short note and let me know.
    Thanks.

    Fran Aslam
    Fran Aslam recently posted..Google Instant – Became The Best Search Engine On The World Wide Web on Sept 08-2010My Profile

    • Adam Paudyal says:

      Hi Fran,

      Short link is just a feature that shortens the URL of your WordPress post. This can be overridden with a human friendly slug after you save your post.

      You probably already know about Tiny url or Bit.ly which shortens the Urls so that you can use it in Twitter or Facebook. Short link provides the same feature but the good thing about this is you can shorten your WordPress URL’s straight from your WordPress dashboard without having to use a third party Url shortners.

      Hope that answers your question. :)

  8. I didn’t know how to do this for the longest time until a kind reader clued me in. Unfortunately, changing it at a later date breaks links and resets your tweets to 0. I still think it was worth it for SEO purposes though.
    Jennifer Barry recently posted..Is College Worth ItMy Profile

  9. Patricia says:

    This is what makes me hesitate changing anything on my site. I will probably email you when I get the courage to upgrade my WordPress Adam as you seem to know heaps about the techie stuff I know nothing about!
    Patricia Perth Australa
    Patricia recently posted..Lavender Health- Lavender Essential OilMy Profile

  10. JK says:

    Hey, nice and clean description. I am not an SEO expert, but I am using custom permalinks for my blog. I learned it from sites like yours.

  11. TechGopal says:

    really nice info…
    thanxxx

  12. [...] How to Use Permalinks For Blog SEO? – Permalinks are necessary for SEO and Adam helps you how you can set it up on WordPress so that you can get the most for your site in terms of search engine visibility. [...]

  13. Hey Adam
    Nice post and useful for budding blogger but I have something to add here:
    I don’t suggest using
    /%category%/%postname%/ for two reasons:
    1. ) If your categories are not organized
    2.) If you use more than one category per post…

    2nd case could bring serious SEO negativity to your blog..
    I prefer keeping simple %postname%/ permalink structure…!!!
    Harsh Agrawal recently posted..Six Ways You’re Cheating Your Blog’s ReadersMy Profile

  14. [...] can be used in permalinks to optimize your post for search engines and as navigational element and well. For instance, If you [...]

  15. [...] Use permalink effectively for Search Engine Optimization [...]

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