Optimal SEO WordPress Permalink Structure for Your Blog

December 27, 2007 - Written by Gyutae Park  

wordpressIf you’re creating a new blog using the WordPress platform, it’s important to establish a permalink structure that is optimal for search engines and for users. So what is the optimal structure? There are many different views on this topic, but from my experience and SEO knowledge, using /%postname%.html is best. Below are some of the key reasons why you should be using this structure.

  • Avoid using dates in your URLs
    Many WordPress blogs default to a structure which includes dates in subfolders. This ties your post to a specific point in time and limits your ability to update old posts. Also, the added subfolders may result in search engines placing less weight on your post and thus reducing the crawl rate.
  • Use relevant keywords
    You want to include relevant keywords in the URLs of your blog posts to increase their ranking potential. Make use of the post slug to include 3 to 4 of the most important keywords. Be sure to take out stop words like “the”, “and”, and “or”.
  • Add .html file extension
    When setting up your permalink structure, you want to add a file extension rather than using a subfolder. For example, /my-post.html is better than /my-post/. The former is considered 1-level higher than the latter and is given more weight by the search engines. The difference isn’t huge but every little bit counts in a competitive niche. Also, using the .html file extension is optimal because it signifies that the page is static. This will encourage search engine spiders to crawl the page more frequently. When setting up Winning the Web, I made the mistake of using .php. Because PHP files are dynamic pages that can be taxing for web servers, spiders may limit the frequency in which they crawl those pages. Using a static structure prevents this altogether.

If you have a well established site, it might not be worth risking your search engine rankings to change your permalink structure. However, if you have a brand new site or a growing site that needs help in terms of SEO, it might be worthwhile to implement the above recommended permalink structure.

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Comments

29 Responses to “Optimal SEO WordPress Permalink Structure for Your Blog”

sven on December 27th, 2007

do not try this when you can’t get your .htacces to the right settings (read / write). It will screw your blog up, some hosts, mine included, do not support it.

 
Oussama Messaoud on December 27th, 2007

I implemented the optimization, it worked fine and nothing was messed up. I hope it helps with SEO.
Thanks for the tip 😉

 
ImageGag on December 27th, 2007

Newbie question. Am I correct in assuming then, that the default setting for wordpress (http://site.com/?p=34) is not SEO friendly?

Also, when I switch to recommended structure, what will happen to all of my live links under /?p=34? Will they become dead or will WordPress automatically redirect them for me?

Thank you.

 
Gyutae Park on December 27th, 2007

@sven
Using a Linux server, you should be able to change setting for a .htaccess file.

@Oussama Messaoud
Great. Make sure that the old URLs are 301 redirecting to the new versions. This way all of the SEO value previously associated with your URLs are transferred over.

@ImageGag
Yes, you’re right. The default setting in WordPress is NOT SEO-friendly. When you switch to the recommend version, they will most likely be broken. You can use this plugin to safely migrate your URLs: http://www.deanlee.cn/wordpress/permalinks-migration-plugin/

 
Planet Lowyat on December 27th, 2007

Just wonder why .html is better than a subfolder?

 
ImageGag on December 27th, 2007

Excellent Gyutae.

I downloaded the Deanlee plugin and changed it to your recommended way:

/%postname%.html

Just tested an old link (?p=#) and it redirected perfectly. Thank you very much for the simple and concise info.

 
Gyutae Park on December 27th, 2007

@Planet Lowyat
.html is better than a subfolder because the html file is 1 directory higher than with a subfolder. For example, site.com/index.html is better than site.com/index/. This is because the second version is actually site.com/index/index.html. Search engines tend to place more emphasis on pages that are higher up in the site’s structure.

@ImageGag
Great! Glad I could help you out.

 
krazl on December 28th, 2007

there’s issue where IIS hosted server can’t support this feature. Is there any plugin to enable for IIS server?

 
SEO Optimization on December 28th, 2007

Hi there,
I do see some valid points on your advise and some with which I can’t agree. For example not using dates in post, I do agree with that as it gives you the freedom to update that post in the near feature, as well as the fact that numbers in URL will decrease the keywords weight in-url.

But from another point, I don’t agree with the file extension call it .htm .html or .php will not make a big difference for search engine spider bots as long as the content is being parsed as x/HTML code which spider bots CAN crawl and read.

As for the post slug URL, it can make your life easier the SEO Slugs plugin (read more on seo plugin).

 
scott on December 28th, 2007

do you use wordpress for this site?

 
DotDriven on December 28th, 2007

Thanks for the tips. I have been using /%postname%/ for a long while now but never thought to add the HTML to it. Seems to make sense.

Also never really knew what the post slugs were beyond being used by a few plugins lol. Might need to start using those heheh.

Whats your opinion on the various SEO plugins like “all in one seo”? It it good to use that in conjunction with the above tips or does it end up just negating the work?

 
Gyutae Park on January 3rd, 2008

@SEO Optimization
The .html extension isn’t a huge advantage, but it can help to increase crawl rates for pages on your site. Since .php signifies that the page is dynamic, search engines may limit their crawls to prevent overworking the servers.

@scott
Yes, I use WordPress for this site.

@DotDriven
Glad I could give you some useful tips. I personally use All in One SEO plugin and think it’s a must-have. WordPress should really consider incorporating something like it in future releases. But of course if everyone uses it, then it would lose its competitive edge…

 
Tina on January 10th, 2008

Hello and thank you for the useful post.

I have been reading for 2 days now documentation and tips for WP.I already set up the recommended permalinks. But i noticed that they don’t work in pages but just in posts.Is that supposed to be or i did something wrong?
I want to move my website to wordpress but i am afraid i will destroy everything.

General question:
Will deleting a post or page and re-adding it back after you changed the permalinks fix a broken link?

Should i permanent redirect my site to www. when i move to wordpress?

Thanks!

 
flashfs on May 12th, 2008

Very cool tip. I was looking for this kind of advice and, guess what, I found you link on Google ;]

And thanks for the plugin link, I think I’ll have to use it too

Gyutae Park on May 14th, 2008

Sure, no problem. Glad I could help. Let me know if you have any other questions as well.

 
 
SEO Specialist on August 11th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I think you are right Tina. Your comment is really helpful for SEO blog readers.

 
fornetti on August 31st, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I do not believe this

 
saqib on September 14th, 2008

What happens if the post is multipage. WordPress shows the next page like http://www.abc.com/postname.htm/1

Is there any way to fix it?

Thanks

 
Jonas on December 2nd, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Yes, it’s a great tip. /%postname%/ is bad for two SEO reasons, One is as Gyutae says the post is on the second level from the domain and hence will be given less importance. Second reason is ,/%postname%/, causes a duplicate content penalty if anyone linked to your blog as /%postname% without the trailing slash.

Anyway, even though the post is soon-to-be 1 year old, keep up the good work and all hail the almighty google 😛

 
Reviewoo.com on February 3rd, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Interesting.I added .html as explained.Let’s see what happen to the page rank.

 

thanks for your article bro, but how to cange seo permalink with out using plugins, i think we can change it from source code, but i forget how to do

 
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tukang nggame on May 3rd, 2009

my Permalink structure now /%postname%/ and if I will change with the add .html is enough to use Permalink migrations plugins? or need to change the other?

thanks for this tips

 
sandrar on September 10th, 2009

Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

 
angelina jolie on September 10th, 2009

I love your site. 🙂 Love design!!! I just came across your blog and wanted to say that I?ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. Sign: ndsam

 
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