SEO expert and WordPress rock star Joost DeValk at Yoast.com recommends postname as the best SEO permalinks structure for WordPress.
This guide will show you how to safely change the permalinks structure on your self-hosted WordPress site without losing favor with Google or creating broken links.
Before we move on to how you can implement this SEO strategy, an explanation of what permalinks are might be useful.
What are permalinks?
Permalinks determine the website address that appears in a browser when you visit articles and pages. A fresh install of WordPress will show page URLs like so:
Changing the settings to any of the other options makes your static pages use proper page URLs. So the previous example would appear as http://wptrain.net/contact/ instead.
Your blog articles however will conform to the structure at Settings >> Permalinks.
What is the best SEO permalinks structure for WordPress?
The Post name permalink structure. Only news sites with content that is date dependent should use the Day and name structure.
Using this permalinks setting allows you to:
- Avoid duplicate URLs leading to the same content.
- Create short keyword-rich URLs that make both search engines and people happy.
Don’t change to the postname structure if you’re using WordPress 3.2 or less!
If you haven’t updated to the latest version of WordPress you may want to wait and update first. WordPress 3.3 patched some performance issues related to using the /%postname%/ structure.
How to change your permalinks structure without losing traffic or pagerank
If you are still using the default setting you can change to the Post name structure without following these instructions.
1. Go to Plugins >> Add New and install a plugin called Advanced Permalinks by John Godley.
2. After activating the plugin, visit Settings >> Permalinks and copy the string of characters from the Custom Structure field.
3. Click the migration link at the top of this page.
4. Paste the code you copied in the previous step into the field and click the Add button.
5. Click on the Defaults link at the top of the page, change your permalink structure to the Post name structure and click the Save Changes button.
Now when you visit:
You will automatically get sent to:
You can do a search for one of your articles in Google by pasting in the exact title of one of your posts. Click on the link and if you get sent to the new permalink then everything is working fine.
Over the next few weeks Google will re-crawl your site and re-index the new URLs instead of the old ones.
Matt Cutts from Google on URL structure in WordPress
Want to take your SEO efforts to the next level? Read the introduction to SEO in WordPress.
If you have any issues or questions about this process, please let us know in the comments. 🙂