The concern for the permalink structure is prominently identified when considering the SEO aspects of a website. Many types of questions continue to trouble individuals when it comes to the selection of the best permalink structure. Among them the foremost question is vested in identification of the best permalink structure for a WordPress website. Questions about optimization of the permalink structure also involved whether or not to include categories in the permalink structure or to change the length of slugs.
The significance of a permalink is observed in its constant nature as it does not change with time. It is also responsible for influencing the interaction of users with a website as well as the ranking of its pages by search engines. The following discussion would try to explore various basics of WordPress permalink structure alongside available options and some essential tips for selecting permalink structures that could be SEO friendly.
Permalink could be defined as the web address of a particular blog post. It is essential to point out that blogs as well as different dynamic and database-driven websites do not have the facility of assigning separate pages to different pieces of content. On the other hand, it has been evidently noted that new content published on the blog or website would be housed in the home page and would be replaced with the arrival of new content. Thus, a permalink serves as the permanent address for such posts and it can be used for locating or referencing the post even if it is not found on the home page. The permalink structure refers to the arrangement of various components in the permalink.
WordPress permalink options:
Since we are here to focus on suitable permalink structure for WordPress, it is inevitable to find out the different options provided by WP for permalink structure. The different options for permalink structure in WP could be accessed through the dashboard where you can click on Settings and then choose Permalinks. There you can find six different options for a custom URL structure that includes ‘Plain’, ‘Day and name’, ‘Month and name’, ‘Numeric’, ‘Post name’ and ‘Custom Structure’.
The ‘Plain’ and ‘Numeric’ permalink structure options are considered as the least user-friendly alternatives since they could not be memorized and do not inform anything to the user about the post or the page. On the other hand, the options of ‘Day and name’ and ‘Month and name’ are considered effective for news sites since they contain tags for date, month and year which could be significant in identifying the time of the story’s publication. However, it should be noted that these options are not suitable for blog posts and especially the ones which are supposed to be independent of time and are meant to be evergreen. For example, a blog post about ‘Tourism in Singapore’ should not be time stamped as viewers may trust the credibility of the information if they access it at a later date.
In the ‘Custom Structure’ seven different tags could be identified and these tags can be combined for development of unique and distinct permalink structures. The tags could be outlined as follows:
- %postname%: This implies towards the slug of a post
- %post_id%: Refers to the unique ID of a post
- %author%: Applicable effectively in the case of environments with multiple authors or involving magazines
- %day%: The numeric day of the publication of a post
- %monthnum%: The month when a post is published
- %year%: The year of publication of the post
- %category%: Main category of the concerned post
It is also essential to note that irrespective of the approach chosen for combination of the tags, it is mandatory to include either the %postname% or the %post_id% that would ensure a permalink for a specific content. After observing the different options for permalink structure it can be concluded that the best option for SEO friendly permalink structure for WordPress and blog sites could be either ‘Custom Structure’ supported with a %postname% or %post_id% tag or the ‘Post Name’ option.
And the winner is….
Now that we have strained out two feasible options for permalink structure in WordPress, it is inevitable to choose the best from the two. You would find that various sources on the internet implying that the ‘Post Name’ option is considered the most suitable for SEO of a WordPress website. However, there is no particular evidence which implies that the ‘Post Name’ option is superior to the ‘Custom Structure’ with post name or post_id tag in terms of effectiveness in search engine optimization of WordPress posts. Hence it can be stated that both the options are equally competent in SEO purposes of WordPress blogs as compared to other alternatives. The primary reasons for this include their clear depiction of the details of the post to search engines and provision of flexibility to include relevant keyword in the URL of the post. The short length of these permalink structure options is also responsible for reducing any form of complexity.
Category tags- Good or Bad?
Users also have the opportunity to include categories in the permalink structure with the use of ‘Custom Structure’ option. The use of a category tag in the URL structure has its positive as well as negative sides. So, if we take a look at the advantages and pitfalls of the category tag then it would be easier to determine the feasibility of including one in the permalink structure of your WordPress posts. First of all, category tags are helpful for users to understand the organization of content on a website.
The inclusion of a category tag is also helpful in better definition of keyword significance in a permalink thereby implying a formidable keyword profile that accounts for the possibility of higher rankings in search engine result pages. On the other hand, the use of categories in the permalink structure could lead to possibilities of similar content in two distinct categories. Category tags could also result in broken links in case there are changes in the categories as it would reform the links containing old categories automatically to broken links. The use of categories could lengthen the URL thereby putting it at disadvantage against shorter URLs in context of SEO.
Keeping them friendly!
Permalinks could be friendly for humans and search engines while in other cases they could show deviation. If a permalink is friendly then it would provide adequate information about the post or page to human users as well as search engines. On the other hand, unfriendly permalinks could not inform anything about the content that is contained in the specific link. Until the launch of the recent versions of WordPress such as the 4.2, the default permalink structure was not user friendly or compatible with SEO.
An example of the default permalink structure is ‘https://mydomain.com/?p=123’. However, the versions of WordPress after Version4.2 provide the default permalink structure which includes the ‘sample post’ option. The example of ‘https: //mydomain.com/sample-post/’ could be provided to validate the user-friendly and SEO friendly nature of the post in WordPress. This type of permalink structure allows the slug to identify the nature of the post in the link thereby ensuring flexibility for humans and search engines.
Read More: SEO friendly Url
Tips for better results:
Now that we have brushed up on the basics of permalink structures and the different options that can be accessed in WordPress posts, it is essential to reflect on some essential tips that would help in development of the best permalink structure for WordPress blogs.
The foremost consideration for the best permalink structure is to keep the URL as short as possible for obtaining promising SEO effectiveness. While some estimates suggest that permalinks should be less than 100 characters, there have been findings which imply that URLs should be shorter than that. It has been found that the average length of URLs in the top ten positions across one million Google search results is between 50 to 59 characters.
Google has been known to truncate the URLs in search results to almost 55 to 60 characters and this is something that you don’t need for your WordPress posts. The foremost approach that comes to mind in this case is the removal of ‘www’ in the permalink that reduces three characters in the URL. This can be accomplished through the WordPress dashboard where you can click on ‘Settings’ and then ‘General’ where you can remove the ‘www’ alongside the dot.
After completion of this process, it is essential to let Google know about this and can be done by accessing the Google Search Console and selection of the user’s preferred domain. First of all, you have to log in to the Search Console following which you have to click on the website URL and then another screen appears on which you have to click on the cog found in the upper right corner of the screen. Here you can find the option of ‘Site Settings’ and in the following screen you have to select the third option that suggests display of your URL without the ‘www’.
The length of the slug is also a critical concern in development of a permalink structure for your WordPress SEO. The slug can be defined as the title of post or page that is found after the domain name. There is no specific rule about the length of slugs albeit with the implications for keeping them less than five words in length. Furthermore, you should make sure that the slugs are not provided by default by WordPress. Try investing some efforts in setting up the slug for your WordPress blog posts manually for promising SEO advantages.
With the information highlighted above, it would now be easier for you to recognize areas where you could improve the SEO compatibility of your WordPress posts.