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Google has confirmed that URLs are a search ranking factor.
Optimising your permalinks (URLs) can:
- Help boost search rankings
- Provide more context about your content to Google
But not everyone bothers to take advantage of the best permalink structure.
Tons of website owners leave the permalink as the default WordPress setting.
Don’t get caught in this trap.
In this blog, I will share everything you need to know about permalinks and how to get the best permalink structure to boost SEO results.
What Will I Learn?
- Understanding Permalinks In SEO
- 5x Tips To Get The Best Permalink Structure
- Can I Change My URL Structure?
Before you create a good permalink structure…
You need to understand what a permalink is and what makes the best permalink structure.
Permalinks are another name for URLs in WordPress.
The phrase ‘permalink’ is short for “permanent link”.
Think of a permalink like the unique address to a page on your site. Every single page on your site will have an individual and unique permalink.
You have the domain name, the categories and then the unique permalink.
WordPress gives you the ability to easily customise the permalink of each blog or page before you post it live to your site.
Permalink structure is the structure you create for every URL on your site.
Here’s what I mean:
Take a look at my keyword research tools blog URL. It provides a clear example of the permalink itself and the general permalink structure that I use for my site.
I have set up each URL so that it follows the same structure like this:
In the case of my keyword research tools blog:
- Domain = matthewwoodward.co.uk
- Category = /seo
- Sub-category = /keywords
- Permalink URL = /keyword-research-tools
If you look at any of my blogs, you will see that they all follow this exact same structure.
Now you understand what a permalink structure is.
To create the best WordPress permalink structure, you need to ensure that every permalink is SEO friendly.
Here are a few examples of SEO-friendly and non-SEO friendly URL structures.
SEO Friendly URL Example
SEO friendly URLs are:
It could look something like this:
Or something like this:
Notice the first structure contains a category, but the second one doesn’t.
Whether you use categories in your own permalink structure is up to you and can depend on how big your website is.
Non-SEO Friendly URL Example
Now let’s take a look at non-SEO friendly URL examples:
Basically, the URLs are a bunch of gibberish.
They aren’t memorable and are not friendly for humans or search engines to read.
Note that WordPress uses the “matthewwoodward.co.uk/?p=123″ URL structure for your site by default. That’s why you must change it before publishing any pages or content.
It’s important to note…
There isn’t just one way to create SEO friendly URLs. You can create a permalink structure that is SEO-friendly in many different ways.
But there are some best practices to follow to ensure you always have the best WordPress permalink structure for your website and SEO.
1. Include Your Target Keyword In Your URLs
This is the most important SEO factor for your URLs.
Every single piece of content that you publish should have the primary target keyword in its URL. This does a few things:
- It creates relevance between your page and the keyword
- It tells Google what your content is about
- It helps Google index your content easier
- It makes it easy for humans to read and understand
The best part?
You’ll never be unsure of what to make your permalink. You simply know that every permalink should be your target keyword.
2. Don’t Use Dates/Years In Your URLs
This is a common mistake…
Lots of people use dates or years in their URLs. They end up looking something like this:
Not only does this look ugly, but the reality is people aren’t interested in old content.
They want to know that the content was recently written.
Even if you regularly update your content, the URL will still show the original publishing date. This will make your content look:
…even though it might not be.
It’s also likely to affect your click-thru rates in the SERPs and even your search rankings.
Think of your good permalinks as timeless.
Even after years, the reader shouldn’t be able to tell when the content was published based on the URL.
3. Use Hyphens To Create Your URLs
In the world of SEO, hyphens are the gold standard for separating words in URLs.
What does that look like?
Let’s say you are writing a piece of content about natural protein shakes and your primary target keyword is – “natural protein shakes“.
Your URL for this content should be:
Use the hyphens to separate the words in your URL.
This is important for both humans and search engines.
First of all, people are used to seeing hyphens as word separators online. This means any reader will quickly understand what the content is about.
But more than that…
Google also understands hyphens in URLs as word separators. That means Google will definitely understand when you use hyphens.
This will help you:
- Improve your content optimisation
- Give you a nice SEO boost
Don’t use other symbols like the % or & sign when you are just separating words.
Always use hyphens.
4. Use HTTPS-Secured URLs
Some URLs start with HTTP and others start with HTTPS.
While this might not look like a big difference to you, it will affect your SEO significantly.
The “S” on the end of HTTPS = SECURE.
And Google has been very upfront with saying that HTTPS security is an important ranking factor. So, if you haven’t migrated your website over to HTTPS – you need to do it as soon as possible.
Follow my HTTPS tutorial to learn how to do it properly.
5. Include The Categories (For Large Websites)
Run a big website with lots of content?
You should include categories in your URL structure.
Because…You have a lot of content and want to make that content easily understandable for search engines.
Whenever Google reads your URL you can help them understand your content by telling them what category it belongs to.
This can make your content more indexable and help your rankings overall.
You can even consider having sub-categories in your URLs if you produce lots of content in the same niche around tons of different topics.
Can I Change My URL Structure?
Yes, it’s possible to change your URL structure. But the better question is…
“Should I change my URL structure?”
It’s not recommended to change your URL structure – especially if you already have an established website with lots of pages.
Changing your URL structure will change every single URL on your website. That means you’ll have a ton of 404 errors that will need to be redirected to the new URLs.
It will also affect your SEO significantly. Even if you do all of the necessary 301 redirets.
Google will get a massive shock when they see that your URLs have changed. The algorithm will likely lower your rankings immediately and it can take a long time to recover.
You should only change your URL structure if you’ve got a very good reason for it.
Ideally hire a specialist SEO agency to do it for you so that your SEO is minimally affected.
GROWTH ALERT: Sign up for my FREE video training series and get a copy of our internal private SEO tool.
Wrapping It Up
Choose your permalink structure wisely.
It can affect your website significantly in the long run.
Take a look at your website and work out what sort of permalink structure will work best. Then follow the 5 tips to ensure that every URL is SEO friendly.
Don’t change your permalink structure for the sake of it. If you need to change it, get help from reputable SEO services you can trust like Search Logistics.
This ensures that your rankings aren’t negatively affected by the changes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is the correct format for a permalink?
The correct format for a permalink should be the domain and then the unique URL. It should look something like example.com/post-name. If you have a large website, you could include categories in the permalink format to help make your content more accessible.
Which permalink structure is best for SEO?
The best permalink structure for SEO is simple and easy to understand URLs. Your permalink should be your primary target keyword and it should be easy to read. You don’t want to include dates in your permalink structure and only use hyphens to separate words.
What is the best URL structure?
The best URL structure uses 2-4 words in the URL. Your URL should be easy to read by both humans and search engines. The best URLs contain the primary keyword for the page so that Google can easily understand what your content is about.