By merging your permalink structure with your site’s architecture, your user should be able to create much more in-depth content structures that allow every aspect of your site to flourish. And Google has an exact understanding of what’s on the page, as displayed by this screenshot of the search results for “Yellow Notebook.” By creating a set structure, Moleskine helps both their user and Google understand where they are on the site. These early URL signals ultimately create an easier user experience and have landed them at the top of the search engine results page. It also doesn’t allow you to include a keyword or establish the site architecture I’ve been showing you, which means your SEO will take a hit. Much like the keywords that you use on your blog or product pages, keywords in your permalinks help Google understand the content on your page. When you create your content or product page, use a relevant keyword in your URL to help signal to Google what your page is about. And even if you don’t use an exact match URL, finding the right keywords to include in your permalinks will help you start ranking for more keywords and see more organic growth. All together, my website’s URL is only 21 characters long. In fact, one case study found that pages with a .com had a harder time ranking on the front page of Google than other domain name extensions. And it’s essential to your permalink SEO because it’s been an SEO signal since 2014.
It’s no secret that it can take a long time to rank on the first page of Google.
And with each passing year, it seems like there are more elements than ever for webmasters to consider in the neverending climb to the front page.
But with all the changing and updating, there are some elements of SEO that you can rely on to always help you improve your rank on a results page.
One such element is the permalink.
There’s a good chance that even if you don’t know what a permalink is, you’ve been taught a few of the best practices already.
This part of your site and how it contributes to your SEO cannot be understated, and it’s worth your time to dig a little deeper into how you can use them effectively.
So in this post, I want to provide a guide that helps you establish permalinks that will act as a cornerstone of your content for years to come.
And to kick things off, I want to show you what a permalink is and why you should start optimizing them immediately.
How permalinks affect SEO
Permalinks are the full URL that users and search engines see when navigating through your site.
As the name suggests, permalinks are permanent even if you update the content on the page.
You can think of it like you would your physical address.
You have a number, street name, city, state, and zip code in that case.
Unless you move down the street, your address will stay the same forever.
The same sort of principle applies to a permalink, but in this case, you’re talking about your website.
It has a distinct set of parts that tells a web browser which page to navigate to and display on your screen.
In fact, there are at least six distinct parts of a URL.
You have the protocol:
This tells your browser how to transfer data over the Internet.
The domain name then follows the protocol:
This where your website comes into play and is navigated to.
Then, you will sometimes see a port:
Generally speaking, this element is omitted because it’s a redundant signal of the protocol.
Next is the filename or post name:
This dictates where on your site the user is navigating to.
If they’re navigating to a blog post or a product page, this is the part of your URL that tells the browser or Google’s crawlers where to go.
From there, you have a set of parameters:
You can think of this part of the URL as a conversation between your site and a search engine.
If you use canonical tags or robot.txt for your SEO, this is where the magic happens.
Last but not least is the anchor:
This is a shortcut that can allow a user to skip to a particular section of your content immediately upon loading in.
So with a permalink, you have to decide which elements you want to include in daily use on your site.
That’s where the debate on optimizing permalinks starts.
To see what different formats your permalinks can take, check out the Permalinks option on your WordPress dashboard.
But why is all of this important?
First of all, Google considers the URLs you use on your website to be a ranking factor.
That means that the permalinks you use and the structure you decide on adopting is ultimately an SEO signal.
Coupled with the fact that URLs are meant to signal what the contents of a page are about, it’s absolutely vital to ensure that your permalinks are helping instead of hurting.
My permalinks are custom-made to match the title of my content closely.
It’s just one of the many ways you can attempt to signal how relevant and reliable your page is to Google’s crawlers.
But as with many SEO topics, there are a few technical aspects that you’ll need to consider to make sure your permalinks are contributing to your overall SEO strategy.
I want to show you six proven tips that will help you make sure that your URLs are boosting your SEO and helping you reach the first page of Google.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to create a long-term strategy that should be usable for years to come.
And to kick things off, you should decide on one stable structure for your permalinks that never changes.
Tip #1: Keep a consistent structure
Deciding how to structure your URLs can be difficult.
You’ve already seen the different options that WordPress will let you pick from, but which is best for your SEO?
Should you use the default settings, or include your post name?
These are questions that webmasters have been asking for years when the answer has been in front of us since 2010:
In this video, Google’s Matt Cutts breaks down what he thinks when looking at a URL structure.
In short, he claims that picking one structure over another won’t exactly correlate to a direct SEO influence.
Instead, your URL structure is more a question of UX.
The best way to approach creating a structure for your URLs is to think of it like you would your site architecture.
When you build a site, you want your pages to create a natural flow for your users. That’s referred to as information architecture.
When creating your site’s architecture, you need to build it so that a user can easily find what they came for.
That includes creating a hierarchy of links that follow a similar format to your architecture.
When building that hierarchy, you need to do what works best for your users.
So for the sake of user experience, your game plan should be to establish a universal structure and then stick to it.
Think of this process like you would a silo on your site.
In many instances, a website with poor architecture and unoptimized permalinks could look like a jumbled up jar of marbles.
The information architecture and permalink structure on your site should attempt to make these marbles show up in different jars.
Or, it should at least put everything in one jar so that it’s easier to understand what’s what.
This metaphor applies to both your product pages and your content.
As you’re building out this user-friendly site structure, you should also be concerned with how your URLs imitate this flow and help users further understand your site.
For example, you could break down each section into categories based on which level of your site they appear on:
When your permalinks follow a similar format to your site structure, it allows both search engines and your user to use your site better.
By merging your permalink structure with your site’s architecture, your user should be able to create much more in-depth content structures that allow every aspect of your site to flourish.
If you want an excellent example of how this could look, check out how the journal makers at Moleskine have created a structure on their website.
When you navigate to a page that displays a particular line of their journals, they break down the URL into a specific path.
This helps the user understand where on the website they’ve navigated and allowed Google to understand the structure of the website accurately.
Then when a product is clicked on, the URL breaks into a hyphenated description of the product based on keywords.
Once again, this makes it easier for the user to know what to expect on the page.
And Google has an exact understanding of what’s on the page, as displayed by this screenshot of the search results for “Yellow Notebook.”
By creating a set structure, Moleskine helps both their user and Google understand where they are on the site.
These early URL signals ultimately create an easier user experience and have landed them at the top of the search engine results page.
If the structure were jumbled and confused, both parties would have a harder time navigating and understanding the site.
You should also avoid dynamic URLs generated by your website’s content management service that looks like this:
While search engines have no trouble indexing this type of URL, it’s not the most friendly URL to read or try to remember.
It also doesn’t allow you to include a keyword or establish the site architecture I’ve been showing you, which means your SEO will take a hit.
Thankfully, there are tools you can use such as the Mod Rewrite Generator from Generate It!.
All you have to do is input the dynamic URL and let it create a rewritten version.
Once the URL is rewritten, you can add or remove from the cleaner rewrite.
When you’re satisfied, click done and follow the outlined steps to ensure that your new static URL is used on your site.
Creating a smooth URL structure throughout your site is the best approach, and can potentially help get you results like this.
At the very least, it will help you remember where products or content are on your website, and will undoubtedly make every other tip in this post easier to implement.
Tip #2: Use a keyword rich URL
Once you’ve figured out the URL structure for your permalinks, you need to start considering how you’re going to incorporate keywords in your URLs to boost your SEO.
Much like the keywords that you use on your blog or product pages, keywords in your…