Most SEO professionals state that the URL of a post is important for search engine optimization. Can WordPress permalinks help create quality URLs?
Yes, but first lets look at the three main benefits for focusing on the URL to enhance search engine optimization.
- Semantics – A quality URL on the web should make sense when someone looks at the link. The URL should reveal the subject of the link simply by seeing the link. This is helpful both to humans AND to search engines. Don’t forget that without humans visiting your site, it doesn’t really matter how many search engines like your products … search engines don’t buy products, humans buy products.
- Relevancy – Having a search term or keyword(s) in the URL can assist in generating search engine referral traffic. These keyword(s) in the URL can operate similar to title tags and are used in determining relevancy and even the computational rankings compiled by search engines.
- Links – When pasting a quality URL link to other online sites, the search engine indexing robots tends to give ranking credit to the page in terms of the URL keywords.
With this understanding of the importance of the WordPress URL in relation to search engine optimization, we now need to look at how to maximize the WordPress Permalinks settings page to take advantage of this powerful SEO setting.
Default WordPress Permalinks
We need to understand how the default WordPress permalinks work in order to see the importance of changing the settings before we begin building any WordPress sites.
Because every single piece of content in WordPress can be identified by a post_id, the default URL structure to display any such piece of content is generated by adding the ID number of the post into the WordPress permalink.
For example, if a post has an ID of 123, the URL of that post would look like:
You can even see this example in the WordPress permalink settings page in WordPress that can be accessed in the WordPress Admin Dashboard > Settings > Permalinks. (see above image)
As we have already learned above, this type of numeric URL does not help at all with our search engine optimization and is one of the primary reasons we need to choose a better WordPress Permalink.
What is the Best WordPress Permalink?
The best WordPress Permalink choice for most WordPress websites is to choose the Post Name option under the Common Settings option.
This enables us to keep the URL as short as possible and, at the same time, offload some of the search engine optimization work to the specific page or post editor screen.
From the post or page edit screen, the WordPress permalink can be edited to craft a better URL that will contain the necessary keyword(s) and eliminate unnecessary words (and, the, it, a, etc).
Taking WordPress Permalinks to the Next Level
There will be times where you will need to utilize some advanced functionalities of WordPress permalinks. This is what the Custom Structure option enables on the WordPress permalinks settings page.
There are a number of structural tags you can use to construct the exact style of WordPress Permalink that will fit your WordPress site’s needs:
- %year% – The year of the the content was published, with 4 digits. (Example: 2015)
- %monthnum% – The month of the year the content was published. (Example: 09)
- %day% – The day of the month the content was published. (Example: 17)
- %hour% – The hour of the day the content was published. (Example: 11)
- %minute% – The minute of the hour the content was published. (Example: 23)
- %second% – The second of the minute the content was published. (Example: 42)
- %postname% – The sanitized version of the title of the post. All spaces are replaced with dashes (-) and text is converted to lowercase. (This is also exactly what the Best Choice for WordPress Permalinks uses that we discussed earlier in this article.)
- %category% – The sanitized version of the category name that a post is associated.
- %author% – The sanitized version of the author’s name.
If your WordPress site generated lots of content in multiple categories and had numerous writers who each had their own following of readers, you might create your WordPress permalink to look something like this:
Final Thoughts on WordPress Permalinks
To optimize every one of your blog posts to the best SEO settings, you must modify your WordPress permalink settings away from the default and to either the recommended Best WordPress Permalinks Settings that we already discussed or create your own unique Custom Structure.
Never forget to take a moment when you are on your WordPress post edit screen to consider if you need to customize the WordPress permalink in the edit option directly below the Post Title field.
If you want to learn more about WordPress permalinks and how they can make your WordPress site better for search engines as well as users you will want to read the Using Permalinks section of the WordPress Codex.