First of all a word of warning: Changing the urls of your blog or site will invalidate already existing links to your site. The following tips are meant for new blogs or really, really desperate cases. If you already know about SEO and Google friendly urls, here are the hacks to implement them on your site. If you want to learn more about SEO friendly urls, please read on 😉
SEO and Google friendly urls for your WordPress blog
Go to your WordPress Blog Dashboard and go to Settings>Permalinks. Here you can now choose how your urls will look. Again, don’t change that on an established blog that has a lot of backlinks as it changes the permalink structure of all your blog posts and the backlinks will be invalid, means they will return a 404 page!
I use “Custom Structure” and type in /%postname%/ which gives my blog posts this form:
Remember, each url for each blog post can be edited in “Edit Post”
“Permalink: http://sheseo.com/editable-part-of-the-post-slug”. This enables you to have your main keywords in the Url and a more catchy, but related title for your readers.
If you have an already established blog that needs a new permalink structure really, really badly, you might try out one of the many “Permalink Redirect WordPress Plugins” on wordpress.org. As I am not using one, I can’t, unfortunately, give you any recommendation. But if somebody here knows of a good one, please feel free to share it in a comment!
All this refers only to self-hosted WordPress blogs, not to those that are hosted for free at WordPress.com!
SEO and Google friendly urls for your blogger blogspot blog
You can’t remove the date from the blogspot url ;-( The best way I know of to make your blogspot url more SEO friendly, is to pay special attention that your main keyword for your blog post is in the title the first time you save your blog post. At this time it becomes part of the Url and can’t be changed anymore. After that, you can change the title to something more catchy, but make sure that the two (Url and title) are still related. If you re-save now your blog post you see that the Url hasn’t changed, but the post title has. Google Blogspot blogs are really not very SEO friendly, but they are free…
So here now is a bunch of background information about SEO and Google friendly Urls . I have also included some information that refers only to dynamic web sites / pages like those created by forum software and some CMS. Better get a drink or a cup of coffee now, as this will be a bit long 😉
What is a seo friendly url?
SEO friendly, also called pretty, Urls are, Urls, that are search engine friendly by containing no fancy characters and / or numbers and instead contain only your main keywords for the post. Pretty Urls are not only SEO friendly, they are also easier to remember for your readers. Not so pretty Urls are also often called “dirty Urls”.
Some dirty Urls can be as bad as
Dynamic Urls like this are often created by advanced CMS systems and require a plugin and / or re-write that makes them more user, Google and SEO friendly. They also contain very little information about what the link is all about when a user hovers over it.
Hover over the following examples and tell me which one you are more likely to click? (They are just examples, they lead to nowhere!)
Dirty Urls are also a security risk, as they give potential hackers clues how your site is “wired” and which scripts it uses. In particular, queries that contain a question mark (?) can be exploited by hackers to try to perform a attack into your blog / site / web app. Other file extensions, such as .asp, .php, .jsp and others give away other, possible, entrance doors to dynamic web sites as they expose the technology used to run the web site / blog.
It is also easier to change from one application to another and to keep your link structure (and your backlinks!) intact when you use pretty Urls.
How to clean up Urls?
I would emphasise again, only change the permalinks of your site if it is brand new and / or a really desperate case as most of your backlinks will be broken in the intent. To minimize the damage you might want to customize your 404 page to convert it into an attractive landing page, that keeps visitors on your site and to do some re-directs for your most important pages, especially the ones that carry page rank and / or are preferred landing pages. For how to implement these tips for your own site, please refer to the documentation of the CMS / Script / etc. that you use. There are so many different ones around that it is impossible to know and cover all.
For special instructions for blogger and wordpress blogs, see first part of this post. Here I go more into detail about the different parts of the Url and give you enough information to make a decision about the future permalink structure of your site or blog. Not all this information is applicable to each and every site. So choose what you need and skip over what you don’t need 😉
K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple (and) Short
Your first aim when thinking about your link structure is to get a short and simple Url, that is easy to remember and doesn’t contain any superfluous characters like the famous p=123 wordpress uses by default.
Design it right from the start
You have to think about your link structure before you write the first article for your site. Think about good short names for directories, folders and file names. For example call the image folder “images” instead of “mybestvacationshoots”. Also avoid abbreviations that are meaningless, “/images” is better than “/ima”.
Stay away from fancy characters
To create a good, SEO friendly, Url just use letters, hyphens to separate words and perhaps numbers where appropriate. Avoid all other characters if possible.
Keep cases consistent
It is best to use, by default, only lower cases in your Url. Some web servers distinguish between lower and upper case and some not.
Don’t give clues about the scripts that run your site
Whilst this is impossible to implement for a Blogger or WordPress blog, it can be done for most other CMS and especially for custom scripts. Please refer to your documentation to learn more.
Convert dynamic Urls to static looking ones
Search engines read and spider static Urls far better than dynamic ones. Some spiders are completely unable to read Urls past the question mark (?)!
Such dynamic Urls are often created when a database driven CMS or Script is used, for example in forums. Some search engines have problems to properly index past non-standard characters, such as ? or %. Sometimes everything past this characters is neglected.
Both Urls are read by those search engines as
and give the search engine the impression, that you have a bunch of duplicate content on your site, something what you really, really don’t want to happen!!!
To avoid all these problems look for SEO plugins and scripts for your dynamic site in the documentation. Look for words like “Seo+Url” in your documentation or google a query like “Your CMS+SEO+Url”.
Alternatively, if you are savvy enough for it you can use the .htaccess file and modify it. Or you can use Mod_Rewrite if you are on a Apache, Linux or Unix server. Again, look up your documentation or ask your web host about it. If you have only a few pages, you might try to do it by hand using a 301 (permanent) re-direct. This can be done painlessly via the cpanel of your web site / host.
Don’t forget about the keywords!
Whatever method you use, make sure that the new, SEO friendly Url contains the relevant keywords for your page / post / article. A good, Google and SEO friendly Url contains the main keyword in your domain name (Think of that before you buy a domain!) and other important parts in the secondary parts of your Url. Something like this is close to ideal:
Depth of link structure
Google doesn’t like to digg! OK, forget about the pun, truth is Google prefers to have all urls easily accessible in maximum 3 levels depth. That doesn’t mean that Google doesn’t index pages that are buried deeper, but will do so less frequently and with less enthusiasm. This is one reason that I have a site map here on my blog.
Site maps are a great way to present everything to Google in a minimum depth!
Avoiding duplicate content
When thinking about your link structure think also about duplicate content! The following two Urls point to the same web page, making Google think that your web site is full of duplicate content and Google doesn’t like duplicate content at all!
Make sure to set the category and other similar pages to no-index to avoid the suspicion of duplicate content in Google’s eyes. Or don’t include tags, categories etc. at all in your link structure, as I did here on this blog.
Any more ideas, suggestions, questions? Please leave them in a comment!
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