Wordpress SEO: Optimize Your Permalinks!

That title certainly sounds like a personal problem, doesn’t it?  It makes you wonder:

  • What the heck are permalinks
  • Why would I care about optimizing them?
  • Will I have to undergo expensive surgeries in order to optimize?

What’s SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is the science, or art (in many cases) of tweaking things in your favor with the search engines.  No one can “guarantee” top rankings on search engines, because the method by which Search Engines work is not completely known and changes constantly.  In fact, Google even employs real people to validate search engine results – they dig through popular search terms to make sure that people aren’t accidentally getting “bad things” to the tops of the ranks and ruin their good name.

Which brings us to the …

Two Types of SEO

Off-Page SEO

Off Page SEO is when you do things to build in-bound links through any of a variety of methods.  Things like link-directories, link-swapping, and article marketing are all effective ways of building inbound links, thus off-page SEO .

On-Page (or On-Site) SEO

On-page SEO is the type of optimization you can perform on your page of which you are in complete control.  This type of SEO pertains to things like using good keywords in the body and title your pages, having sufficient keyword density and linking to other pages within your site using frequently sought keywords, and the like.

Google takes a look at many on-page factors when determining what makes a page relevant for a certain search term.  One of those factors is the URL of the page itself.  If the URL of the page contains the words that people are searching for, Google lends just a smidge (since there are so many factors) more weight to the likelihood that your page will be found as relevant for the sought keyword.

Here’s an example:

http://Using-Twitter.com/blog/How-To-Retweet

Now, when people are searching for things like “Twitter How To Retweet ” or “Using Twitter Retweet ” or similar phrases, that page will be considered more relevant for those terms because those words (and sometimes complete phrases) are matched perfectly in the URL.

Knowing what you know now… how does a URL like THIS compare?

http://Using-Twitter.com/blog/?p=7

Exactly. ICK!   Which brings us to…

What’s a Permalink?

“Permalink” is an abbreviated form of the phrase “Permanent Link.”  In WordPress, it’s simply the URL someone would use in order to directly link to a specific page in your site.  It’s also the URL that Google will (or won’t) send people to when they search for your targeted keywords.

How do I optimize Permalinks?

WordPress is very configurable, and as such, there’s an easy way to set your URLs to be far more meaningful to the search engines.

  1. Open the URL “<YourBlogUrl>/wp-admin/options-permalink.php”So, for the site mentioned above, the link would be

    http://Using-Twitter.com/blog/wp-admin/options-permalink.php

  2. In the “Common Settings” section, select the radio button marked “Custom Structure”.
  3. In the big text box over to the right of “Custom Structure”, enter this value: “/%postname%/” (without the quotes)
  4. Click the “Save Changes” button at the very bottom to put those new setting in to effect.
  5. MOST IMPORTANT: Visit your home page and click a few URLs to make sure the new ones look like you expect.  If not, repeat the steps above more closely.

PLEASE NOTE: If you’re using a crappy hosting provider (such as GoDaddy), you will have to wait about 10-15 minutes for your changes to take effect.  Make sure to make these changes during slow traffic periods or after hours.  Better yet, switch your hosting company to one that doesn’t suck .

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13 comments ↓

#1 Kyle Reddoch (6 comments.) on 01.29.09 at 1:36 pm

This is Great information Daiv! Many people don’t understand how powerful this really is.

I have been around some blogs that have had those icky permalinks on them….not good I say!

Way to go bud! :)

#2 Christianne Gordon (1 comments.) on 01.29.09 at 1:50 pm

This is very powerful stuff. Thanks for the recommendations!

#3 Carol (1 comments.) on 01.29.09 at 2:15 pm

Would also add that if you’re in a Windows IIS 6 shared environment it is difficult (impossible?) to optimize WordPress blog links and the WP Custom Structure functionality doesn’t work correctly. Apparently, you won’t be able to edit the ASAPI filter, nor will you be able to do anything meaningful with the config file…just passing this along to save others hours of work trying to figure out why their pretty permalinks may not be working. Or better yet, does anyone know a workaround?

#4 Tim Larison (1 comments.) on 01.29.09 at 2:25 pm

great tip! I have changed the permalinks on our blog to this new structure. Thanks.

#5 Dana Evans (1 comments.) on 01.29.09 at 2:37 pm

Great info on here! Thanks for the suggestions! I’ll be checking all my WordPress installations to make sure that permalinks are set well. :-)

#6 Fran Bailey (1 comments.) on 01.29.09 at 3:28 pm

AWESOME tip!

#7 SonjaCassella (SonjaCassella) (2 comments.) on 01.30.09 at 3:35 am

Thanks again for the SEO help with the permalinks

#8 Redmeatfreak (1 comments.) on 02.02.09 at 1:01 pm

Thanks for the info, will give it a shot as I am probably most guilty of “ICK”.

#9 Amanda (1 comments.) on 02.02.09 at 4:22 pm

Wow. Thank you so much for the info.

#10 SonjaCassella (SonjaCassella) (2 comments.) on 02.02.09 at 9:54 pm

I couldn’t believe what this suggestion from your blog did: 3X the traffic overnight.

#11 mark (1 comments.) on 02.03.09 at 7:33 am

Thanks for the tips. I plan on implementing them immediately. I downloaded the all in one SEO widget for my page. http://semperfiwebdesign.com/

Do you know if this accomplishes the same thing?

#12 Petra Weiss (1 comments.) on 02.05.09 at 3:15 pm

Hi Daiv, thanks for sharing such valuable info! You know, I sometimes wonder how a “normal” person should ever know what to enter where and how to do all these things, if it weren’t for guys like you.
Thanks heaps!

#13 Nicholas Chase (1 comments.) on 03.11.09 at 1:39 pm

Daiv,

Thanks for this information. I am preparing to move my seven blogs (!) from BlogSpot to WordPress on my hosted sites.

This will help me to get the traffic I need to measure market interest in my blog post’s.

Respectfully,

Nicholas Chase
http://www.twitter.com/nachase

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