WordPress and the Permalinks Question


If you go into the administrative settings of your WordPress website, you will notice, under the General Settings, that you can set the structure of your site’s permalinks. The default setting creates a simple link for every new page and post based on your domain name and a unique, identifying alphanumeric string. For example, you might end up with a link that looks something like ‘http://your website.com/?p=456’.

New site owners may be content with this short and sweet permalink structure on the assumption that long file names are bad for business. But is that true? More importantly, what is the best permalink structure for WordPress users?

What You Are Trying to Accomplish

The goals you have set for your website will determine which type of permalink structure is best for you. If you are only using your website as an online calling card for an established business that you are not looking to grow, the default structure is just fine. You are probably not looking for SEO optimization anyway. However, if you are hoping your website will generate new traffic and create new customers, you will need to do something different.

WordPress gives you six different options for permalinks. These are:

  1. Default (what we’ve already discussed)
  2. Date and name (a combination of the post title and the date it was created)
  3. Month and name (a combination of the post title and the month it was created)
  4. Numeric (a simple number assigned to the post)
  5. Post name (the title of your post becomes the file name in your link)
  6. Custom structure (you get to create your own)

We will go out on a limb and say options two through four are the best options for website owners who want to specifically keep track of their posts by either date or category. The problem with these options for SEO purposes is that they limit how you can use posts in the future. The best options for SEO optimization are either option five and six. Assuming you know nothing about creating custom permalinks, your best option will be the post name structure.

Post Name Equals Relevance

We recommend the post name structure for permalinks because of the way Google’s indexing works. Their algorithm is programmed to collect information from the title of a post, its meta-tags, and the body text. The post title tells the algorithm what a specific post is about; the body of the post should reflect the contents of the title accurately. If it does, the algorithm rewards the post with high marks.

By using the post name structure for permalinks, you are giving the Google algorithm another identifier that confirms what it has learned from the post title and the body text. It does not endue your post with any SEO superpowers, but it certainly strengthens Google’s analysis of it in terms of relevance. Moreover, anyone who knows anything about the current state of SEO knows that relevance is at the top of the list of SEO importance.

As a WordPress site owner, you should be taking advantage of every opportunity to make your site SEO friendly. That includes choosing the post name structure for your permalinks.

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