Digital Marketing

The Permalink: What Is It & How To Structure It For Maximum SEO Value

In Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a permalink is a permanent URL that allows search engines to direct traffic to your website easily. 

Upon publishing content online, search engines would link the words (keywords) you use in your post to your permalink. 

The more natural and high-quality the words used in the permalink, the higher your website’s search engine ranking will have. In this article, you’ll learn how to maximize SEO value by structuring permalinks well.

What Is A Permalink?

Permalink is the specific URL (a link) that leads to a particular page or post on your website. It is also referred to as the “link address.” 

So permalink means Link Address. Your permalink structure needs to be unique for every post or page on your website to make it easier for search engine spiders and visitors.

What’s The Difference Between A Permalink And A URL?

A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is more commonly known as a web address. It is the link you see in your browser’s search bar, and it’s what you give when someone asks for your website address.

A permalink is the web address used to link to your content. The URL of your blog post may change over time, but the permalink will always stay the same, making it easy for visitors to find and share your content on social media or link to it in their posts or articles.

The Best Permalink Structures

WordPress permalinks are the permanent URLs to your pages, blog posts, and category and tag archives. 

A permalink is the web address used to link to your content. The URL to each post should be permanent and never change. It is what another blogger will use when linking to your post (source).

The permalink defines how your posts, pages, categories, and tags will appear on your site. You can customize this structure via Settings > Permalinks in your dashboard.

Here’s an example of a default post URL: www.example.com/?p=123

Here’s an example of pretty permalinks: www.example.com/sample-post

As you can see, the second option offers more descriptive information about the page, making it easier for both users and search engines to understand what the page is about.

8 Best Practices To Make A Permalink

Now that you know what a permalink is and how it works, let’s look at some standard best practices that can help you make your permalink as SEO-friendly and user-friendly as possible.

  1. Keep It Short And Keyword Heavy

Some users won’t even bother trying to type or remember the URL if it’s too long. Instead, they’ll do a Google search for your brand name and click on the first result, which may or may not be your website.

  1. Include Your Target Keywords If Possible 

A little keyword stuffing never hurts anybody, but don’t go overboard with this either. Including one or two keyword phrases in your URLs will give you a slight edge in SERPs over sites that don’t include keywords in their URLs. 

However, keep an eye for “keyword cannibalization” issues in Google Analytics (more on this later).

  1. Use Hyphens (-) Instead Of Underscores (_)

These can easily be confused with special characters and cause errors when people are typing them into their browser. Most search engines consider hyphens as word separators, while underscores indicate that adjacent words should be the same as one word.

  1. Use Well-targeted Keywords

Including a keyword or two in a permalink can help reinforce the page’s topic to both users and search engines. 

It also helps show search engines that your post is relevant to a particular search query, making them more likely to rank your post higher than one that doesn’t contain any keywords in its permalink.

  1. Making It Readable For Humans

You will link your blog posts to various places around the web, so we want our permalinks to be as readable as possible. It means no use of symbols, numbers, or capital letters (unless they’re part of an actual word).

  1. Exclude Special Characters

A permalink should not contain special characters such as an asterisk (*), a question mark (?), or an exclamation point (!).

Why? It’s better to keep permalinks simple and easy to understand. Also, avoid using special characters in the URL because some servers might have problems with it.

  1. Use Canonical Tags

One of the best methods to avoid duplicate content is using a canonical tag. A canonical tag tells search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using it well improves your site’s SEO.

A canonical tag can help you specify which version should appear in search results when you have duplicate pages. 

When you link to a page using its canonical URL, the individual page’s features, such as PageRank, are attributed to the canonical URL. It helps ensure that your most important pages get the credit they deserve for their features and ranking power.

  1. Use Dynamic Strings Carefully

WordPress uses a lot of parameters in its permalinks. 

For example, https://example.com/2017/03/04/sample-post/ contains four parameters: year, month, day, and post name. Each parameter is separated by a slash (/).

When you create a new post in WordPress, be sure you select the right category or categories for it. You can choose one or more existing categories for a post or add new categories simultaneously.

However, avoid using dynamic strings as much as possible unless you need them for functionality purposes. Dynamic strings are unpredictable and may change without notice at any time. 

To Wrap Things Up 

There are a lot of technical aspects when it comes to search engine optimization and a WordPress directory page, but one of the most important is the permalink structure. 

Make sure you know what you’re doing with your website’s links, and use this guide to upskill and ensure your permalink structure!

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