Smart Permalink Structure

In a recent post on my forum, we were discussing permalink structure. The topic of that discussion was which permalink structure was best. The thread brought up some interesting points, and I thought I would share my conclusions here for your consideration. If you blog and you use WordPress, you'll want to give this some thought...

What is Permalink Structure?

It is the permanent link structure for your individual blog posts. The default link structure includes a question mark and the Post ID, which would look like this:

http://www.clicknewz.com/?p=577

By customizing your permalinks, you can make the URL or link to the same blog post look like this instead:

http://www.clicknewz.com/577/writing-reports/

You can customize your Permalink Structure by clicking Options > Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard or admin panel.

Why Does Permalink Structure Matter?

It has been said that the URL structure (whether it is a static page or a blog post) carries weight in regards to search engine ranking. You may have even heard that major search engines wont read anything after the question mark (?) in a URL, but that's obviously not the case since we see these types of links in search results every day now.

That said, search terms that appear in the URL are generally bold, other otherwise highlighted in the search results.

The URL should contain relevant information about the page content, and not information that isnt useful to either humans or bots. So you want your link structure to create URLs that both define the content and include relevant keywords.

It's a well known fact that the structure of the URL alone can increase click-through rates. Not to mention it just plain looks better and gives your site a more professional appearance.

Which Permalink Structure Should You Use?

When you go to Options > Permalinks, you will notice there are several options for setting up your Permalink Structure. The default choices are default, date and name based, numeric or custom:

default: http://www.clicknewz.com/?p=123
date & name: http://www.clicknewz.com/2007/05/24/sample-post/
numeric: http://www.clicknewz.com/archives/123

Here on ClickNewz I use a custom Permalink Structure that is coded like this:

/%post_id%/%postname%/

What that structure does is create URLs to individual blog posts that contain the Post ID and the Post Name. Here is an example of a permalink created using this structure:

http://www.clicknewz.com/1993/how-to-write-a-blog-post/

This is the Permalink Structure that makes the most sense.

Unless the date is highly relevant to your blog posts, its simply unnecessary. In most cases you dont want to 'date' your content, but would prefer it to be (and seem) relevant to anyone reading it at anytime.

I had considered using the category name in the URL at one point, but I often assign an individual post to more than one category. For the sake of keeping URLs as short as possible, I decided to leave this out.

The Post ID may not seem necessary or relevant at first glance, but it can certainly be a useful addition to your Permalink Structure. It allows WordPress to locate a blog post even if you leave out the rest of the URL - such as Post Name. Let me show you an example:

This URL http://www.clicknewz.com/577/ will take you to the same page on ClickNewz as the full URL to the same post: http://www.clicknewz.com/577/writing-reports/ .

This could be particularly useful if you have long post titles, and plan to email links to individual blog posts. You can use the shorter version of the URL (only containing the Post ID) and your readers will still be taken to the appropriate page on your blog.

Changing Your Permalink Structure

With these tips in mind, you may be considering a change to the Permalink Structure on your blog. But you dont want to change all of the links on your archived posts, and run the risk of creating a lot of 404 - File Not Found errors when people click through from the search engines or from other sites that link to you.

Use this Permalink Redirect Plugin

This creates a 301 Redirect from your original links to the new links created when you change your Permalink Structure. That way if someone clicks on one of your old links, they will be redirected to the correct post or page on your blog, even though the link for that page/post has changed.

Best,

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 15 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...moreĀ»

Discussion

  1. Brad Isaac says:

    I'd caution anyone who is wanting to change their permalinks that they need to have a good site backup and a Plan B.

    When I first moved my blog, the links all changed to new locations (of course) but the structure didn't work right. It took days to hack everything to make it work again.

    Otherwise, it was a good move. LOL

  2. Great point to add, Brad - a good back-up is important anytime you are making changes or additions to your site/blog!

  3. Little advice,

    You will have to 301 redirect the first to avoid duplicate content issues.

    A 301 redirect is a way to tell search engines the is permanently moved, thus you will not spoil PR this way.

    1: http://www.clicknewz.com/577/
    2: http://www.clicknewz.com/577/writing-reports/

    Good luck!

  4. Teli Adlam says:

    You will have to 301 redirect the first to avoid duplicate content issues.

    WP 2.3.x will automatically do that for you.

    ~ Teli

  5. Carol Bremner (TorontoCarol) says:

    Thanks Lynn, for the mention about adding a post to more than one category. I was having trouble with that, so I stopped doing multiple categories. Glad to see there is another alternative.
    Carol

  6. Leigh Kostiainen says:

    Thanks Lynn, your permalinks advice was great, and I understood what you were talking about ... as a result I think I have made some excellent changes to my site and the way I work with links. Ta Leigh in Australia.

  7. Ray Cassidy says:

    My blog section is a bit more subtle than most of the blogs you refer to as it isn't a strictly commercial website. I hope that the structure you outline will encourage a few more readers to get their local community information from the site.

    In essence it isn't a lot different to the writing structures taught in primary school over here in the UK.

  8. Also, for performance reasons, it is a good idea to start your permalink structure with a numeric field, such as the year or post ID. More info can be found here: http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks

  9. I am starting a blog and want to use this permalink, but .. as we have been 'playing' a lot with posts, pages etc, the first post will go out with a postID of 151.

    Is there a way to have the posts start from '1' again?

    richard

  10. No IdeaRichard but are you using wordpress theme f it is then why don't you directly contact wordpress support.

  11. I realise this is an old post (although the permalink structure advice is still pertinent). However, ironically your link to the permalink migration plugin brings up a 404 error! Not your fault, the guy has obviously changed his site because even his internal links to the page aren't working. Some days, you just can't win :P

  12. I have been using the permalink structure of; Post# - category - Post name: /%post_id%/%category%/%postname%/.
    My reasoning is that I have read where the post number is needed for proper tracking of the post.
    The added category ID is to add a little more Google food and keyword identity.
    Then of course the post name which should be keyword rich for the main topic of the article.
    The number in the permalink is an important aspect whiter it's a date, post number or a seed id that is related to one post only.
    Just my idea on the subject from many different research efforts on the subject.

  13. Good post but I find using just the post name with a .html appended works better with the search engines than having the post id in it. If you want to shorten the url for emails, you can use the "get short link" button on the post edit screen to do this.

    ie:
    Permalink structure: /%postname%.html
    Post url: http://icenterprises.com.au/why-create-video-promotions-for-your-business.html
    Short link for post: http://icenterprises.com.au/?p=245

    I use this in conjunction with the ".html on pages" to give my entire site better looking and more search engine friendly links.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] activate your new theme (under appearance > themes) - change permalink structure -help - edit/delete the default post (Hello World) and delete the test comment - fill out About Me page [...]

  2. [...] of permalinks, if you want your post links to look as nice as mine see: Smart Permalink Structure. And here’s a bonus tip for you – that permalink structure allows me to use shortened [...]

  3. [...] some potential pitfalls to that permalink structure, mainly if you expect to have a lot of posts. Lynn Terry has a nice setup although that one may have duplicate content [...]

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