Permanent Link or Permalink of a page is the unique location of that page on the internet. Permalink of a page is the address of the page shown on the browser’s address bar. Optimizing permalinks gives better SEO because search engines use the keywords on the permalink to classify the page and better classification brings in more quality search visits.
Why is Permalink Optimization important?
See these links:
- mllionclues.com/?p=21 (a)
- millionclues.com/?page_id=100 (b)
Now see these links:
- millionclues.com/tutorials/twitter-quick-start-guide (A)
- millionclues.com/contact (B)
The first two links does not tell us anything, they are just links. The second set of links gives us a better idea of the target pages. The link marked (A) tell us that it is a tutorial and to be more specific, it is a quick start guide for twitter. Similarly, link (B) tell that the target page contains contact information.
These are the same with the search bots too. A well structured permalink tells the web crawler a lot about the page. This information gives the pages better indexing and better SEO. Moreover, the Google search algorithm gives more importance to the keywords in the permalink. The more keyword match the permalink has with the search query, the higher will be the position of the page on the Search Results Page.
How to Optimize Permalinks on WordPress
Change the Permalink Structure
The default permalink structure looks like the first set of links (a) and (b). Change the default structure to something similar to (A) and (B)
- Go to WordPress admin >> Settings >> Permalinks.
- Under the ‘Custom Settings’ press the ‘Custom Structure’ radio button.
- The most recommended Permalink Structure is the Home / Category / Post-Title Structure. For that enter the following in the text box in the Custom Structure selection: /%category%/%postname%
- Save the changes.
- If you are not satisfied with this Permalink Structure, read the Custom Permalinks Guide from WordPress Codex.
Remove irrelevant words from the permalinks for better Keyword weight
SEO guru’s believe that the keywords in the permalink are weighted based on the number of words in the permalink. The more words the permalink contain, the less will be the keyword weight of each keyword and hence lower will be its relevancy in a search.
Once you have a custom permalink as we did above, your posts will be automatically assigned the permalink from the title of your post. The permalink will be displayed just below the title once you save your post or after an auto save. You can edit the permalinks here. (See image)
Edit the permalinks and remove any unnecessary connecting words. Keep the Post Title long and Self-Explanatory for the readers and the permalinks short for the Search Engines. But do not stuff the permalinks with keywords alone. Make sure that anyone who reads the permalink gets an idea of what the post is about.
An example: The permalink of this post has been edited as optimize-wordpress-permalinks-seo-friendly. That keeps the permalink short, makes it keyword relevant and keeps it self explanatory.
If you had been using the default permalinks and wish to migrate now, use Dean’s Permalinks Migration Plugin and move safely without losing any back-links or google pagerank.
Update: WordPress says its not recommended to use Category/Post-Name style, but I havent had a problem yet. I have worked on over 200 WordPress websites. If you are concerned, you could just use the following format for the same results:
It will add the post id before the category name and each post will have a unique number in the permalink.