Customizing Your WordPress URLs

With any new blog I work on, one of the first things I do is change the permalink structure. WordPress permalinks will determine the URL that your post will appear under. Just go to any blog, click on a post title and then look at the URL shown for it. If the blog is using the default permalink structure, you will see a question mark and some numbers. Since keyword rich URLs is one way to optimize your blog for the search engines, why not change your permalink structure to a more search engine friendly one?

In most cases I use the custom structure of /%postname%/ (see below caveats on when you might want to use a different one). You can set this up for yourself under Permalinks in the Settings Menu.

Type in "/%postname%/" for your custom permalink structure

This means (as a default) my post title will also comprise my URL (with dashes in between the words). You do also have the ability to customize your permalink to be different than your title. I often do this because I want my blog posts to have catchy titles, which doesn’t always mean that they are optimized for keywords.

Now here are the two caveats you need to keep in mind:

  1. If your blog has been around for a while, proceed with caution with changing your permalink structure. Your existing blog posts may have already been indexed by Google with the old URLs, and other sites may have linked to them. In this case both Google and those sites would get broken links. There is a way around this, but the one avenue I’ve looked at (mod rewrite code in the web server) is non trivial and not available to many. More research needed. Update: there are plugins that will set up the 301 redirects for you
  2. If you think you are going to have a lot of pages & posts (more than 50), read through this forum discussion, you may want to consider /%year%/%postname%/ instead. My blog has a lot of posts, so I may need to consider a change, however point 1 will apply so I will need to proceed with caution.

About the Author Kathy Alice

Kathy Alice Brown is a traffic and conversion expert specializing in SEO, Copywriting and Facebook Ad Campaigns. In her spare time she loves to get outside.

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3 comments
Darcie Newton says November 1, 2010

Nice…I did this right at the beginning…not sure how I discovered this handy tip but glad I did. I love the short and sweet lesson you delivered here.

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Kathy Alice says November 2, 2010

I found a better writeup on the performance problems caused by using %postname% or %category% for the beginning of your custom permalink structure: Pick An Efficient Structure for your Permalinks. Note the comment that a fix might be in WordPress 3.0.

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301 Redirect in Wordpress with Optional .htaccess Update | Making Sense of the Web says November 19, 2010

[…] blog that needed some TLC. Since there wasn’t going to be a lot of pages, I changed the permalink structure to a custom one so I could put keywords into the URLs. I checked whether the site had any backlinks (it […]

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