One of the simplest ways to increase your web traffic is to fine-tune your Permalinks Settings in WordPress. By default WordPress uses web URLs which have question marks and numbers in them. For SEO purposes, these are not very helpful as search engines cannot understand what these mean. You can however change the default settings and create your own Permalinks Settings.
WordPress Default Permalinks Settings
WordPress lets you the ability to create a custom URL structure for your permalinks and archives. This helps improve the readability of your links both for your human readers and for search engines.
Why Change the Default Permalinks Settings?
Let’s say you have a website, for example, shoes.com. You create a new blog post about the summer sales and publish it.
The default WordPress permalinks settings may look something like this: www.shoes.com/?123.php
When Google, Bing and other search engines read this page, one of the ways it indexes the page (i.e. interprets its meaning) is by analyzing the link structure.
When search engines see ?123.php, they don’t know how to interpret it.
A better way would be to change ?123.php to something like shoe-summer-sale.php.
Now, the search engine knows that this page is about shoes and summer sales. It can use this information, with the title tags, description and the content to get index it more accurately.
When people type in shoes summer sales into the search engine, your page will appear that little bit higher.
Different Permalinks Settings
You can setup different Permalinks Settings in WordPress and see which works best. Testing is the only way to determine what’s best for you.
Here are some combinations you can use:
- Year, Month, Date and Title
- Date and Title
- Category and Title
Each of these is worth exploring. For example, if you run a news site, the Date and Title may be best. Google News requires that you include the Date when submitting articles to its index, for example.
Title by itself also works if you have a critical mass of fans/readers and want to front-load the keywords.
What does front-load keywords mean?
It means that you prioritize your keywords so that the most important keyword appears first in the string and then the second and so on.
means that you want to prioritize the word discount more than ladies or shoes (which already appears in the url anyway).
Best Permalinks Settings for Blogs
I’ve looked into this and found that, for me, the best structure is:
This works very well as you’re adding the:
- Postname and
to the url.
For example, www.shoes.com/sale/discount-ladies-shoes
Therefore, when Google reads this strong it has three types of metadata (information) to use to index the page.
Note that by adding Category to the string, I’m including specific keywords to the url. Again, this helps Google et al to categorize the page and ensure that it gets indexed correctly.
What settings do you use?
PS: another reason to use Categories is that it forces you to structure your site more intentionally. Ideally, you should have a small number of focussed categories so your content concentrates on the same topic (niche). By having too many categories, your content loses its impact as you dilute the site’s value. In other words, Google and other search engines cannot really tell what the sites about. My aim is to get this site down to ten categories. Right now, it’s about eighteen.