Best WordPress Custom Permalink Settings for SEO
When I first started making websites using WP I was not even aware that you could use WordPress custom permalinks, let alone that there was any SEO benefit to doing so. Hell, I don’t even think I was aware of SEO very much at all at that point in time. Permalinks in WordPress however are a very important part of setting up your site correctly from what I know of the subject. The benefits of using a good WordPress post Permalink will help you to rank in the search engines more easily and also keep your sites page load speed down.
What Are Permalinks?
In my non technical talk, they are the address of the webpage. You can see it in the address bar in the top of your browser and it will also show up in Google search results underneath the title of a web page, you’ll recognize it because it is always in green text. As an example, the permalink for this particular post which you are now reading is:
Which in my humble opinion is the best permalink structure for SEO out of the few which are recommended by many.
By default, WordPress permalinks are set up in a sub optimal way for some reason so we want to change that before we actually go to work on our site. Here’s how we go about doing that and a little more information on why exactly we should do it.
- First of all, lets go to the WordPress permalink settings page.
- Find the ‘settings’ tab on the menu at the left hand side of your WP admin page.
- Hit the little arrow to reveal the drop-down choices.
- Click on the word ‘Permalinks’.
This should lead you to a page which looks similar to the one shown below. Scary stuff huh? Don’t worry, this is a painless procedure that takes just seconds to complete.
Next up you need to follow these 3 quick steps to get your WordPress permalinks SEO ready:
- Check the radio button in front of the ‘Custom Structure’ option
- Paste this code
into the box to the right of the option we just chose.
- Finally, just hit the ‘Save Changes’ button.
And you’re all done! That wasn’t so tough now was it?
Why is this the Best Custom Permalinks WordPress Setup?
First of all, this structure follows the best practices outlined at the wordpress.org codex of using a numeric value at the start of your permalink structure. Failure to follow this advice may result in the speed of your site becoming slower which is bad news. Speed probably a ranking factor with the search engines and on top of this, visitors are not going to stick around too long if it takes 45 minutes for your pages to load.
We have fulfilled this by including the /%post_id%/ bit at the start.
Secondly, having the actual words that you want to rank well for in the search engines, contained within your WP permalinks is helpful. This is why so many are fond of using the permalink structure /%postname%/ (Without the /%post_id% part in front of it), this choice is fine if you are only going to be building a smaller website but if you are planning on creating a website of more than 30-50 pages then it is a bad idea as stated over at ottopress.com. This is a trusted source which is actually cited at wordpress.org.
Good News for Those Who Have Already Used the WordPress Category Permalink or the WordPress Postname Permalink
The wordpress SEO permalinks problem with speed mentioned above is perhaps going to be cleared up with the release of WordPress 3.3 according to ottopress so that you will be able to leave out numerical values. Can’t wait! One of my biggest sites has a bad permalink setup. Very good news for those of us who have already made this mistake.