“What is the best permalink structure for my WordPress site?”

I got that question lots of times. In the email, Facebook groups and messages, and face to face conversations (still got those).

The usual answer always starts with “It depends on your project.” After that cautious phrase, I begin explaining that it’s not a one size fits all system. So, I’ll let you join my personal conversation with other person, some weeks ago.

“Yes, yes, but I want to know about the URL structure you use.”, he told me.

“Ok. I use the simplest permalink possible. I have the domain name and post name. That’s all”.

URL with clean permalink
URL with clean permalink

The category question

“I see. And what about the category? Should I have the category? It’s important for Google?”

“I don’t use it on most of the projects, but if it’s valuable to your readers, you must use it. However, I think you have to set your priorities right. Yes, Google and other search engines are important but more important – I think – are your users, the people that visit your site. Some of those visitors look at your URL on search results. So, try to make an educated guess about your user’s behavior. If you think they value the categories in the permalink, use it. However, there’s something more about categories.”

“Yeah? Tell me more?”

“First, I wouldn’t use categories on the permalink if your domain name is long. Only if it’s short. At last, if you use it, take care that you only select one category per post.”

Keyword in the title and URL

“I read somewhere that we must use the keyword in the post name?”

“Yes, that is recommended as a best practice. For users and search engines. But don’t go crazy with that kind of optimization. Don’t worry about if your focus keyword is the first word on your permalink, after the domain name. If your focus keyword is in the first words, don’t worry, you’ll be okay”.

“How many words should I use?”

“Use as few words as necessary. If you can make your title with three, four or five words long, excellent. If you have more words in the title, try to use a short URL. Remove some of the nonrelevant words and keep only the important ones. To finish, prefer dashes over underscores to separate the words.”

Slug with clean permalink
Slug with clean permalink

Forget about the date, unless…

“Oh, and about the date?”

“You see, it depends, again. You can use it:

If your site it’s time sensitive;
If the date is important for your audience.

If it is, well, you might have it in the URL. Generally speaking, using date doesn’t have many benefits. It’s only a way to ‘date’ your permalink structure.”

“Imagine that I make some mistakes, can I change the permalink structure?”

“My favorite answer in this conversation: it depends. Depends on how long do you have your site and the number of pages and posts. If you have a long history, it’s better to do not make drastic decisions. You think that you’ve made some errors? Change the URL structure could make it worse. If you’re starting then switching won’t cause you troubles.”

“Ok, thanks for…”

“Unless…”

“Yeah?”

“Unless you’re still using the default WordPress permalink, the one with the question mark, the ‘p’ letter and equal (?p=). Is this case it’s wiser to change it in any circumstances.”

WordPress plain URL is not a good choice
WordPress plain URL is not a good choice

 

“Oh, yes, that’s important.”

“Please, don’t stress too much about SEO. It’s important, of course, but you’ll do a great job for only follows the most important of all rules: common sense and always put your users in first place.”