Today I’m going to show you an SEO strategy that helped boost my organic traffic.
This tactic is so simple you’ll kick yourself for not doing it sooner.
So in today’s post I’ll show you the exact steps to create SEO friendly URLs in WordPress to help you get more traffic.
What is an SEO Friendly URL?
A URL is a website address. It means Uniform Resource Locator. Every blog post and page on your website has its own unique URL.
In WordPress, you use the Permalink Structure to determine how all your site URLs are structured.
For example, the default Permalink structure looks like this:
Notice that URL doesn’t tell a person much about the content of the article. Nor does it give Google a clue as to what the article is about.
A better Permalink structure is one that is easy for people and search engines to read so they understand what the content is about. It’s also easy to share in social media and looks good.
Let’s dig into how to set up an SEO friendly Permalink structure in WordPress and how to shorten the URL for even better results.
What are the Best WordPress Permalinks for SEO?
Have you ever wondered how Google ranks webpages to find the best match for a user search query?
There are over 200 ranking factors that Google uses.
Here’s the good news …
URLs are one of those ranking factors. It’s not the most important factor but it still counts.
You want to create WordPress URL structures that help people understand what the content is about, and are readable by people and search engines.
How to Create Custom Permalinks in WordPress
It’s a simple step to create SEO friendly URLs using the Permalinks feature in WordPress.
For an existing site, you can install a plugin like “Change Permalink Helper” which will redirect the old URL to the new URL as defined in your permalink structure.
- From the WordPress dashboard, go to Settings > Permalinks.
- Under Common Settings, select Post name. Then click Save changes.
You have many options for your settings:
Default: This option is ugly and not SEO friendly at all.
Day and name: Creates a URL that is too long. Plus the original date will continue to show even if you update the content later. It may be best suited for news sites.
Month and name: Same as Day and name. Also best for large news sites.
Numeric: This is one of the worst options for SEO because it doesn’t give people or search engines any usable information about your content.
Post name: Short and to the point, Post name is the most widely used for creating URLs that are SEO friendly.
Custom structure: You can create custom structure if you want to.
Blog URLs: How to Edit with Keywords for SEO
Now that you have the right WordPress permalink structure for SEO friendly URLs, let’s move on to editing individual URLs for blog posts.
When you create a blog post or page in WordPress, a URL is automatically created. For example, the original URL for this blog post was quite long as you can see below. WP uses ellipse to indicate there are more words.
This URL is not too SEO friendly. How can we edit this to make it better for people and search engines? Here’s a few tips to use as best practices and then I’ll show you how to do it.
The URLs created by WordPress can be quite lengthy as you know.
Backlinko conducted an interesting study and found tha “Shorter URLs tend to rank better than long URLs.” You can see in this chart that the longer the URL, the worse the page ranks in Google.
As seen in the chart from Backlinko, the first position is at about 50 to 52 characters.
The lesson here is to keep blog URLs short to contribute to better search engine rankings.
Number of Words
I try to keep the number of words at about three to five. Matt Cutts [previously head honcho at Google Spam], was interviewed at one time and said it himself. Here’s an excerpt from that interview or you can read the whole thing.
Make sure your URLs have less words instead of more for better SEO. Even Google has made statements about keeping URLs simple.
Hyphens or Underscores
WordPress automatically puts dashes [hyphens] inbetween words in the URL. When you edit the URL, be sure to only use dashes. Don’t use underscores.
As Matt Cutts explains in the video, when you include dashes inbetween the words, Google indexes the words separately. For example:
red-widget – Google indexes the word red and indexes the word widget. The dash is seen as a separator.
However, if it were red_widget, Google would just put the words together as one term instead of two: redwidget.
To make your URLs SEO friendly be sure to stick with dashes.
You should definitely include keywords in your URL. Don’t overstuff it of course!
Your URL should indicate to a person and search engines what your article is about. If my URL is:
You can tell what my article is about in just two words. Targeting just one or two keywords is sufficient. Make sure they are your best ones on which your article is focused.
Avoid using stop words in your URLs as they are filtered out by Google for search queries. Stop words are words like:
the, a, of, for, an, but
I’m sure there are more but you get the idea.
Google won’t slap you for using them but they are not necessary.
How to Edit the WordPress URL
This is so easy you’ll wish you had done it sooner.
- Enter your blog title.
- Save your draft in WordPress.
- Click Edit next to the Permalink located under the title of your blog.
- Enter the URL you want to use. Be sure to follow the above best practices.
- Click OK when done.
You just created your SEO friendly URL!
Final Thoughts on URLs that are SEO Friendly
I think you’ll agree that this is the easiest thing ever that you can do to improve your SEO. It’s an important step so DON’T skip it!
Be sure to include your most important keywords so people know what your content is about and search engines understand too.
See you at the top of the search engines!
Ahhhh…I wish I would have come across this post 4 months ago. This is fantastic – I’m checking my permalink settings now and will consider everything for future posts. Thanks for sharing!