Best Permalink Structure is Optimized for SEO and Users

by Jerod Morris on January 21, 2010

best permalink structure - optimized for SEO
This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Beginner's Content

So far in our beginner’s series on content we have tackled two immediate issues you face when starting a blog: what you should blog about and choosing a domain and blog name.

These are relatively obvious issues that even the greenest of greenhorn bloggers will understand that they need to tackle right off the bat.

The third and final topic in the beginner’s series on blogging is one that might not be quite so obvious, and it is one that I see handled erroneously – or not even handled at all – over and over and over again, even by really good bloggers.

The issue I am speaking about is permalinks, and the goal of this post is to give you a few basic tips for how to optimize your blog with the best permalink structure possible.

And the best part of all? It’s not that hard.

First off, let’s make sure that we understand the basics.

Permalinks Defined

A permalink is, by definition, a permanent link to a webpage. For our purposes in this post, I am getting even more granular with the definition of permalinks to mean the  specific portion of the URL that distinguishes one webpage on a domain from another.

Quick aside if any of this isn’t making sense: think of a domain name as being the name of a street and permalinks (as we are discussing them today) are like the numbers in the address that distinguish one house from another.

For the post you are viewing right how, the permalink is: http://how-to-blog.tv/content/best-permalink-structure

  • http://how-to-blog.tv is the domain name.
  • /content is the primary category for this post (which we have chosen to include in our permalinks; this is optional).
  • /best-permalink-structure is what takes you to this page out of the hundreds of pages that have been published on this website.

You can decide on your blog whether or not you want to include the category in the URL. Had we chosen not to include the category in the URL, the permalink for this page would be: http://how-to-blog.tv/best-permalink-structure. I’m not sure there is really a rule of thumb or standard answer to tell you whether you should or shouldn’t.

In general, search engines seem to appreciate as few “/” marks as possible in a URL. If you have four or less, however, it’s all pretty much the same. So if you think a user will gain value from seeing the category in the URL, go for it. If you don’t, then don’t include it.

But what is imperative is that you create permalinks that are keyword focused at the end.

The Best Permalink Structure

Before I even wrote this post, I knew what my primary keywords phrase was going to be: “best permalink structure”. Why? Well did some keyword research and learned that “best permalink structure” is searched 210 times per month. More generally, “permalink structure” is searched 1,300 times per month.┬áThus, to maximize the returns on the effort I am putting in to create this piece of content, I want to be as clear as possible to search engines what this post is about.

To accomplish this, you will notice that, for example, the title of this post includes my keyword phrase, the body of the post is peppered throughout (but not too much!) by the exact phrase “best permalink structure”, and my URL is optimized with the best permalink structure for optimizing this post for the chosen keywords.

Also notice that the URL is not http://how-to-blog.tv/content/bestpermalinkstructure. I have broken up the individual words with dashes to make them more easily read by search engine robots and human users alike.

How To Optimize Your Permalinks

While reading this, you may be thinking to yourself that this is pretty obvious, and that surely every website does this very simple task when publishing a new post or web page. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, because it gives those of us who do use optimized permalinks a leg up) not all websites do.

Even worse, not even all websites powered by WordPress use optimized keywords. And what makes that so egregious is how easy it is to set up:

  • Go to the “Settings” tag in the left sidebar of your admin section
  • Click on “Permalinks”
  • Choose the “Day and Name” or “Month and Name” option, or simple type %postname% into the Custom box

By doing this, WordPress will automatically create permalinks with the words in your post title separated by dashes. The post edit page in WordPress also gives you the ability to change the auto-generated permalink to anything that you want.

I am not well versed in the exact method for creating optimized permalinks in Blogger, Joomla, or other blogging platforms, but here are a couple of links that should help you out if you use one of those services:

If you are using a blogging platform not mentioned here and you do not know how to optimize permalinks for that platform, my best advice would be to Google “how do I optimize permalinks in [platform name]“. You’ll find out just as quickly as I would.

Why All Permalinks Should be Optimized

They key, as I mentioned in my last post about how to choose a domain name, is to have continuity, consistency, and synergy. When you have a permalink that is optimized with keywords that are relevant to your post, you are helping yourself that much more in terms of future traffic when it comes to the all powerful search engines.

Just as important, if not more so, you immediately tell users what the post is about just from the link. If I were to email you the link to this post, I wouldn’t even need to describe it. You would know immediately that the post is about the best permalink structure for content on your blog. The URL spells out in explicit detail.

Ultimately, that is what you want: a domain name that that tells search engines and users exactly what your site is about and a permalink that tells search engines and users exactly what that specific post or page is about, the latter of which is accomplished quite simply by employing the best permalink structure described here.

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Jerod Morris is a blogging and social media junkie who helped found How-to-Blog.tv so he’d have a repository for all of the blogging and social media information constantly swimming around in his head.

When he’s not blogging here, Jerod is the managing editor for both Midwest Sports Fans and Corporate Compliance Insights, as well as an avid user of StumbleUpon (jrod4040), Digg (jrod4040), and Twitter (@jerodmsf).

Series Navigation«How to Choose a Domain Name & Choosing a Blog Name

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave February 28, 2010 at 7:18 pm

thanks for the info its hard to find info like this as when you Google this its either incomplete or it doesn’t make sense thank-you again, very clear and to the point.

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Jess Echavez May 13, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Thanks for these tips. I actually find it interesting.

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bread maker October 17, 2010 at 4:05 am

Hey thanks for sharing, but I would like to ask if the keyword density in permalink matters? Would “www.abc.com/keyword1/” rank higher than “www.abc.com/keyword1-review/”? Does it make a big difference cause I’m thinking to restructure my permalink from “/keyword1-review/” to “/keyword1/”

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Jerod Morris October 19, 2010 at 10:14 am

I don’t know if it is going to make a huge difference. I would say if the second word has no relevance at all, remove it. But the people search on the word “review” a lot, so there is a good chance that it will improve your medium- to long-tail search by keeping it in there.

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