WordPress Post Address Best Practices
WordPress is – you might already know it – the most popular blogging platform and content management system on the Internet.
There are plenty of good reasons to use it although WordPress has also some major drawbacks.
- WordPress is bloated after years of development
- WordPress is a frequent target for hackers
- WordPress has a cluttered admin interface
etc. Yet I’m OK with those downsides. It’s still my favorite online publishing tool.
I use WordPress for more than one blog. Indeed I used WordPress since 2003 for numerous projects.
One of the benefits of using WordPress are the customizable post addresses. I still remember the days before WP and how difficult it was to get clean ones.
Why and How to Change Post Addresses on WordPress
WordPress lets you change your post addresses with ease. They can get rewritten to offer the best possible user experience.
That’s nice but also there are some pitfalls. Why should you rewrite your so called URLs in the first place?
- to make them readable and self explanatory
- to make them Google friendly
- for better archiving
- to make them memorable
Now said that there is no one way to do that. There is no ideal URL structure for WordPress. It depends on what you need.
Just think about how you use your WordPress installation. WordPress can be used for multiple purposes:
- as a blog (most probably but not necessarily)
- as a website
- as a news source
- a an archive or library for real or metaphorically speaking
- as an online store
- as a forum
Now there are several ways to “design”- as in so called URL design – your WordPress post addresses. After years of practice my favorites are…
Stop, first I want to show you what the average WordPress URLs looked like historically:
None of the above addresses are perfect, most of them have significant drawbacks.
#1 The number is short – There is no need for “tinyurl” services and it does not use any rewrite rules.
I like that in some cases – for instance for blogs that have large numbers of short posts.
You can show off by having a four or five digit post number.
It tells you nothing about the content though. Imagine this link in an email. Would you click it or rather a link like that: example.com/britney-spears-naked
#2 The category and readable post address lets you categorize your content.
Sadly WordPress categories do not work as expected. You can’t really choose which category is the most important one.
When you ascribe more than one category WP will almost randomly choose one.
Also, the “/” at the end mimics a directory which a post is not. Do you really want to trick your readers you dirty black hat SEO?
#3 The date and readable post address is great for a historical view but most blog readers expect current posts on a blog.
Do you really think someone will click on a link like example.com/2005/03/15/breaking-news ?
Leading by Example
Now lets take a look at my own post address:
I love simplicity and I wanted my blog to appear to be a real website with real content not just ephemeral blog postings. It is not ideal for several reasons or rather purposes though.
Let’s say I make a list of 10 items and the add some more. I can’t change the URL though, as it would yield a 404 not found error n the old one.
Consider this URL again: example.com/?p=215
Now changing the headline does not have any impact on it. Now wouldn’t it be great to combine these two? Yes, as I am a man of “as well” instead of “either or”.
You can and should combine short and self-evident post addresses to get more clicks and beyond.
The solution is fairly simple:
This post address has a major advantage:
Long URLs sent by email often get cut at the end or impacted negatively in the process of sending.
It does not matter with this one.
will all successfully lead to the same post.
Unfortunately this is not enough in many cases. As Google is quite stupid and does not know you are a blog unless you call yourself a blog you might want to use
or better, if you want to rank for the often searched for keyword+blog combination:
You can achieve this either by uploading your WordPress installation into the real “blog” or “seo blog” directory on you server via FTP or by rewriting again. WordPress lets you add a so called “category_base”.
Dates Are Sweet
Many people still want to use the date in their URL as they write news blogs and for better archiving.
You do not have to fake three directories with slashes (“/”) when doing that.
In case I want to retain the date I use either one of these two URL structures:
WordPress will still allow you to access the years as in “example.com/2017”, months or days.
Now you still have to decide which URL or permalink design is the best for you.
The implementation of the desired URL structure is shown here at WordPress.org or here with some screen shots.
There are also some dirty tricks as I like to call them ;-)
For instance you can add any suffix after the URL. Instead of the good old and pointless “.html” or “.php”
You can add anything you want. In my case something like “.seo” could be useful:
It might look a bit redundant though considering my current address:
I am using WordPress 2.3.3 with the Date and Name based permalink structure setting with good results. I have been using this format from day one. Because it uses the actual post title to build your link it definitely helps get you noticed in the search engines as long as the title of your post appropriately corresponds to the content of the post. There are plugins that can be used for SEO with WordPress but I have decided not to mess with success. Regards, ElectroGeek
I’m not sure you really read my post. Also SEO 2.0 is not only about SEO but also about usability etc. It’s a wholistic approach.
Click this URL to realize the drawback of your URLs:
Some really cool ideas here Tad. Never really considered adding additional words to the url. What are the advantages of google knowing that your website is a blog? I never thought it made much difference…
Good question Nick. In fact many people find me via Google Blogsearch searching for, unsurprisingly “SEO”. Also many people look for keyword+blog combinations like green blog, car blog, SEO blog. Google Blogsearch results are to be added to Google Universal search etc.
Adding words to the URL is indeed not widely used but often URLs end up changed by sending or two different character sets.
It’s an error in most cases, not the above version though.
Usualy i use domani.ext/category/postname.html
Imho is the best perman link
I use normally domain.com/123/seo-2-0-basics-wordpress-url-design
and it helps in search engines as well , what do you say
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I like this permalink better :
instead of only postname, I add .htm at the end.
Could I ask you the favor of replacing the WordPress logo in your post with an official one from http://wordpress.org/about/logos/ ?
The logo you are using has the wrong proportions. Given that this post is the #1 result for a Google image search for WordPress, it would be great to have it show the correct image. Thank you!
Yeah, thanks for the tip. I’ll change that soon.
In my experience this whole article is pretty moot, as the priority placed upon domains and URL strings is MUCH lower than many other search engine impacting factors involved in the structure of your site.
Anyway you look at it, though, if you manage your category names well enough that you’re writing is contextually relevant, you should have no need to modify the permalinks in WP at all. The best thing you can do for your blog or website to optimize it for Search Engines is write relevant content that acts as link-bait. Everything else should fall into place after that.
Also, I must be honest; the admin panel of WP2.7 is really nice. I mean, it could be worse… you could be using Drupal.
Also, could you speak further to the points you made about WP being bloated and vulnerable to security attacks? I’d like to know you made both of those statements in the first paragraph and didn’t back them up with any evidence in the article.
I agree with Bobby D regarding the new admin panel. I love using it. Here is the official WP permalink guide, which I successfully used today: http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Permalinks
Please tell me, ¿What is the better /%postname%/ or /%postname%?, thank you.
this is good article.. i like it.. i usually just use /%postname%/
and for anon, why using /%postname%? ??? for?
@onreact Here is the corrected url:
That one works.
Exactly, but there is only one letter missing in my version of your link and it already gets “not found”.
In contrast when using a number you can write any text behind it and the link will still work.
I like Your Post better :
instead of only postname, I add .htm at the end.