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How to Set a SEO Friendly URL Structure in WordPress

How to Set an SEO-Friendly URL Structure in WordPress

The job of search engine optimization is never done. Not only is there always something that could be optimized better, tweaked, and changed, but the search engines themselves will occasionally change their algorithms, sending the SEO community on a new hunt for the things that help websites rank well. What constitutes an SEO-friendly URL structure changed a bit over time, too, to accommodate Google’s changing relationships with keywords.

Still, URLs are something that can be optimized for SEO, or at the very least, something where SEO mistakes can and should be avoided. In this article, we’ll explain to you a couple of the currently standing best practices for search engine optimization of URLs, and we’ll also show you where in WordPress you can set that SEO-friendly URL structure.

What’s an SEO-Friendly URL?

Right off the bat, you should know that URLs matter for SEO for a couple of reasons. They are a ranking factor – not the most important one, but a ranking factor, nevertheless. With SEO, you need every single boost you can get, no matter how small it might be.

More importantly, however, URLs can provide important information to the users. When seeing a naked URL – a URL that is written out, not linked to in an anchor text – users should be able to discern at least the basic information about the page itself.

That’s one of the reasons it’s important to include keywords in URLs – they are intelligible by humans, which is something every search engine tells a URL should be. Here are some other things search engines would like you to do to make your URLs more SEO- and user-friendly:

  • Keywords trump numbers – always opt for descriptive, relevant keywords over ID numbers in the URL, and use localized words whenever possible.
  • Make the URL easy to read – don’t splice all of the keywords together, make sure they’re properly separate and legible.
  • Use hyphens to separate keywords – they are much better than underscores or sticking all the keywords together.
  • Keep URLs short and simple – consider removing post dates from URLs, and always use lowercase – the part of the URL after the domain name is case-sensitive.

For the most part, following these rules will be simple enough, especially because WordPress either does it already or gives you an easy way to set it up.

How to Set an SEO-Friendly URL Structure in WordPress

WordPress has an easy way of allowing you to switch up the structure of the URLs on your website. Simply navigate to Settings > Permalinks, and you’ll see all of the options WordPress gives you. Here, you’ll be able to choose between mostly non-friendly options and a couple that are good for SEO.

Before you do anything with those options, however, you should keep in mind that changing them on a whim can have a disastrous effect on an established website. So best be sure to set them up well from the get-go and change them only if you know how to set up the necessary redirects afterward.

The permalink structures offered by WordPress include different mixes of pos IDs, names, and dates. The SEO-friendly structure in that bunch is Post Name – everything else contains IDs or dates, neither of which are good. Choosing the Post Name structure will put you on good terms with the search engines.

Alternatively, you can use the Custom Structure option to add an element to the URL, such as the name of the author or a category. These might work well for specific websites where providing information about the additional element would be of value for the reader. If a blog has two popular authors with distinct voices and fan bases, it might make sense to include the name of a post’s author in the URL. Keep in mind, however, that these elements add complexity to the URL, and that’s not good.

For every page or post you create, you’ll be able to set that final part of the URL, the slug, from the editor itself. The right-hand side menu has a Permalink section you can use to set a custom URL slug. Just make sure you follow the best practices we outlined above, and you’ll be fine. You’ll probably be fine not changing anything if you’ve set up the permalinks structure well.

Let’s Wrap It Up!

Creating an SEO-friendly URL structure for your WordPress website is an important step in giving the search engines, as well as your readers, an easier time navigating and understanding your website. Thankfully, WordPress makes it easy to choose a URL structure that’s also SEO-friendly, and it also allows you to customize it a bit to fit your website’s specific needs. Always keep in mind, however, that the search engines want you to create an URL structure that will benefit human visitors, so best to keep it short, simple, and as informative as two to four words can be.

We hope this article was helpful. If you liked it, feel free to check out some of these articles as well!


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