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How to Make Your Permalinks SEO-Friendly: WordPress for Beginners Tutorial

Hey this is Sasha and in today’s WordPress training video, what I want to do is share with you how you can make friendly permalinks, or in other words, a friendly URL structure.

Benefits of friendly permalinks

It’s important to understand why do you really want a friendly URL structure. There are a few befits, one of the benefits is of course it’s easier for you to find or direct people to a certain page of your website.

For example, if you are looking at my website, let’s say backstage and from this page I tell people to visit if you want to see the resource that I have available, and when they type that in then they can go directly to the resources page and that’s where they would find all the different resources that I have, including hosting, building your email list, growth and management for your business, there’s a lot of resources of tools, equipment and things that I use.

That’s just a quick way to reference people to a certain location, that’s just a good way to structure URLs.

The other benefit to this is if you have a simple URL structure or permalinks, in that case it allows the search engines or the robots to scan your website and index it much friendlier because there are more directories.

For example, you can see we’re in the top directory here, which is just /resources. But in fact, if we go into let’s just say my video tools camera and equipment, you can see there is a few tools here, but if I click “see all my video gear” and I hit that button right there, watch how the URL at the very top changes, /resources/vid-tools-equipment/

And this breaks things down from the cameras that I use, to the lenses, to the microphones, tripods, background lighting and additional goodies that people may be interested in looking. The search engines that know that within resources, this is the video equipment resources.

When you’re sorting your content and pages and structuring a nice URL structure, it’s always good to focus on those two things, number one the user, number two also the search engines and the robots.

Structuring permalinks in wordpress

When you get into wordpress, there are a few different ways that you can structure the permalinks, and if you go into your panel and you log into wordpress, and I’ll just share with you my wordpress here.

As you scroll down, and you go into settings and you go into permalinks right there, you’ll see there is a lot of different settings, some are related to other plugins, but if I hit the permalinks area, I get right into the permalinks and now what you’ll notice is that here’s a lot of different settings that you have here within wordpress.

Plain structure

Here we have a plain setting, which is the standard default. In this setting, what you can see is there is a question mark, P, which is for page, and then =123 or it’ll be your page ID. This is typically the standard or plain setting that wordpress will be set up with. It’ll usually be check marked there on that bullet point, and it’ll be highlighted right there.

In our case, normally we don’t want to use this because search engines have not been very friendly to URLs that are a little more dynamic. And in that case, you try to simplify things for them.

Now they’ve been getting much better at it, and they’ve been able to pick those things up, but even then it’s nice to have nice URLs because you can’t always remember what the page ID number is if you’re looking to hand that or pass that over to a friend.

Post name

For many people what they actually use as far as bloggers go, especially if you have evergreen posts, which are posts that don’t really expire. They look at just the post name, this is typically the main one that for many people they like to use.

This is great at the beginning, when you’re just posting periodically, the one caveat or the problem that you may have with this is if you have a very similar title or post name that is created with that slug, with that little end extension right here, it can cost conflict. So you have to be really careful with that, especially as you’re posting more frequently.

One of the advantages of course is that since you don’t have numerals like the year 2017 or the month or the day, people think the post is still relevant. It could play a psychological trick on people that if you have the year included in there, they may think it’s not as relevant, or the content is not as useful when in fact it’s just fine and very useful.

But, in this case the post name is usually good for general blogging for general information, evergreen content, but if you post quite frequently, it can become a problem, especially if the postings or the names are very similar.

And even if you have one post that’s 5 years old and another one that’s let’s say brand new, and they have a very similar slug or the same slug, it can cost conflict. So keep that in mind.

Month, day and name

The other ones that you could do is things like the day and name, so you can see it starts with a year, month and then you get into the day and then the post title.

You could go into month and name right here on this one, and that’s just year and month and then of course the post slug, the numeral is very similar to this one at the very top, except it just makes it a little bit nicer without the question marks and things like that. So if anything go with that rather than this plain one, you really don’t want to stick to the plain one. Those are kind of the options that you have.

Custom structure

One thing that you could also do is take a look at this custom structure, and this is what I’ve actually done, and what I’ve done is just put the year in there, for me I use the year at the moment and then the post name. That kind of gives me a combination of month and name but without the month. It somewhat avoids a little bit of that discrepancy that you may get with just doing the post name. So I just put in the year, and then I put in the post name there. And that’s just the way I structure the page.

And if you’re going to change it, all you need to do is just click that button right there and go in and hit the save changes button at the bottom, and you should be good to go.

And if you take a look at the website and now you visit the blog page, let’s just say we go on over to the blog, so you can see this post right here was published January 25th 2017, that’s just the date structure that is mentioned there.

If I click it, you can see at the very top, it basically transforms that URL to /2017 and then /my post slug, that’s the permalinks and that’s the way that they structure it.

If I go to another post, let’s say this one, December 14th 2016 I go ahead and click this one, since this one is in 2016, it’ll be 2016 project Fi review experience.

You can see how this post log really works and for the permalinks combining them together, how it shortens the URL but also makes it very friendly.

In either case, that’s just the way that I do my postings because I post a little more frequently, and I don’t want to have the trouble of thinking, did I already create something like that? Because sometimes I may do two or three videos on the same type of subject, but explaining it differently. Maybe one will be a little more visual, maybe one will be a screencast.

There are some similarities between the posts that I make, but I don’t want those to conflict and have an issue with my website.

Once you set your URL structure, don’t change it again

The way that you do it is completely up to you, what’s important is that you have a nice URL and permalink structure.

One big thing to keep in mind is once you set this, the minute you set this in your wordpress website, if your site is set, you probably don’t want to change it again, because it’s going to completely mess your structure up.

Meaning, if the robots and people remember it, if people are linking to your website and you go ahead and change this, it’s going to change it everywhere on your website, which can be a major problem. So once you set this normally you do not touch it again.

I would say in certain instances, let’s just say you’re one month or three months or five months into blogging, and you haven’t had a lot of traffic, and you’re creating a lot more content, in that case you may decide, I’ll change it a little bit to maybe something with a year and post name or a year, month and post name, month and day kind of thing, or month and name, in that case you’re fine to change it because you’re still new.

But once you’re one or two years into blogging, you’re not going to want to mess with this, because it’s going to affect it everywhere throughout your website and it’s just not going to work out real well, you’ll have a lot of dead links and broken links, which can cause a lot of problems for people that are linking to you, and for your visitors.

I’ll show you one other quick example here on my traders fly website, which is a little bit more popular, we post more frequently than the backstage income website, if you take a look here on these posts, you can see we pretty much post almost every other day or so.

February first was this post, January 31st, January 30th, because you can see I put in charts, there is live classes, webinars.

If you click through this, you can see the URL structure that I use here is year, and then month and then the slug for the title. So it’s basically the month and the name that’s in there, but that’s because it has more postings, it’s a little bit more news related, there is more active content, there is webinars. It’s a little bit differently structured, simply because of the website, the way it is.

If I was to redo it again, I’d probably would still only have the year, simply because I’m able to name things a little bit differently or add in, let’s say 41 minutes to the end of the post slug and that would create a little variance in those slugs, but again, I would still probably have the year and then the slug and so on.

This one’s a little more news-heavy and it has more active content, so to avoid any conflicts, I put in year and month when I first started it, and that’s just the way it’s been structured, and that’s the way you want to keep it for the long hall, because that’s how it was when it was originally set up.

You don’t want to mess with these things once they are set up, pretty much, unless you’re still new and the blog is kind of one or two months old, in which case you’re probably ok to do it, but you’ll need to redirect and play a little bit with some of the links that are happening on your page.

Resource List:

Project Fi
Google AdWords