When we think about the structure of our WordPress permalinks we should be thinking about the organization of our website and it’s hierarchy. Kind of like a sitemap.
We want to provide an optimal experience for users (by giving them helpful pages) but we also want to make sure we have the best WordPress permalink structure for SEO.
This article covers how to structure permalinks for pages, posts, as well as some other related permalink settings that will help you maximize your WordPress SEO.
SEO-Friendly Permalinks in 6 Steps
- What Makes an SEO-Friendly Permalink Structure?
- Permalink Structure For Pages (Parent Pages)
- Permalink Structure For Posts (Categories)
- Changing Permalinks and 301 Redirects
- Yoast Permalink Settings
- WWW vs Non-WWW
1. What Makes an SEO-Friendly Permalink Structure?
In addition to good site architecture and user-friendly navigation (people can find the pages they want), structuring permalinks also encourages you to split up pages so you can target more keywords.
Let’s say you have 5 offices in different locations. Creating a page for each office helps you target each one’s geographic location much better (Chicago Web Designer, San Diego Web Designer, etc). This will rank those pages higher since each page will do a better job of targeting it’s focus keyword.
Permalink structure for blog articles just help people find what they’re looking for.
2. Permalink Structure For Pages (Parent Pages)
Using parents pages is a way of categorizing pages by hierarchy. For example services can be a parent page of web design. In this situation your permalink structure would look like this: example.com/services/web-design
I created this on Created Using WriteMaps if you want to do your own. Also, heres a video of Googles Matt Cuts confirming this is a good permalink structure to use:
How To Create Parent Pages
In your WordPress dashboard, edit a non-parent page (Web Design) and on the right you will see a section to select a parent page (Services).
3. Permalink Structure For Posts (Categories)
This is how WordPress sets your default permalink structure:
The default ?p=123 format is not a descriptive permalink structure for SEO and is not recommended, ever.
There is no best permalink structure for SEO since it’s a matter of preference, but I will say that Matt Cutts (who advises us SEOs) says in this video at 1:51 that he uses a custom structure of /%postname%/ because it’s “simple.” I use this too.
But what if you have a lot of articles? Some will argue that using /%category%/%postname%/ is better. Well again it’s a matter of preference. If you have a long domain name then also including a long word in the permalink path could hurt your SEO. That’s why if you do use that structure, you may want to just use something like “articles” which you would set here:
As for dates and numbers, they are not very descriptive. Plus using dates in your permalink structure can eventually cause your content to look outdated which can hurt your SEO.
How To Set Your Blog’s Permalink Structure
Just go to Settings –> Permalinks.
4. Changing Permalinks and 301 Redirects
Changing permalinks is not recommended unless they’re really ugly, like this one…
If you do ever change a permalink, you’ll want to setup a 301 redirect to direct visitors and search engines to the new permalink. I use the Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin which is very easy to use. Once installed, go to Redirect Options –> Quick Redirects. Now follow the “request” and “destination” examples below:
5. Yoast Permalink Settings
If you have the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin installed, there is a section where you can edit more permalink settings. Here’s what I recommend:
Have questions about this? I explain this more in my Yoast tutorial’s permalink section.
6. WWW vs Non-WWW
Do you want your website to show up as www.website.com or website.com? I prefer without the www but it’s also a preference and does not affect SEO. You can switch anytime, just make sure your preferred domain in WordPress is the same as it is in Google Webmaster Tools. Here’s how to do that…
- In WordPress, go to Settings –> General
- In Google Webmaster Tools, go to Gear Icon –> Site Settings –> Preferred Domain
Finally, redirect the one you’re not using to the one you are using.