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Craft SEO-friendly blog post URL’s (in WordPress)
You don’t want to pass up any opportunity to get your blog optimized for search engines (heck yeah that’s–almost literally–the name of the game with SEO!). How to do it? Easy-peasy lemon squeezy. Below are instructions on how best to put your titles to work!
Okay so you are trying to make your site and/or blog rank for certain topics. What better way to do that than to weave your SEO keywords and keyphrases into the URL of your blog posts? If you’re new to the topic of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), feel free to check out my definition of SEO.
For an example of how to employ SEO keywords in your posts, let’s say you blog for your plumbing business you want to rank both for “plumbing” but also for your locality, e.g. “Lancaster Pennsylvania plumber.” In this specific case you’d want to rank for “lancaster pennsylvania plumber” as your keyphrase. Therefore, employ this exact phrase in your URL’s.
So, for a post to your WordPress website, you can make that keyphrase a part of the URL. Start by going to Settings > Permalinks:
Once you’ve selected “Permalinks,” you ought to see a page like this:
WordPress Permalink Settings
Let us go through the various settings in the screen capture above one-by-one. Both “Plain” and “Numeric” settings are not good for SEO. This is pretty obvious as far keywords go. I mean, how is a number going end up as a search term unless you’re trying to find something like “why is Friday the 13th bad luck” or something? On the other hand, “Day and name” can be a good option SEO-wise. This is because it provides a publishing date which some of your readers might find useful. Similarly, “Month and name” can have the same benefit.
Now the last setting in the above list, “Custom Structure,” can be useful for increasing your Google rank. The reason for this is it gives more info about your content to The Big G. This extra information has to do with the category you are specifying in the “Custom Structure” URL. That said, putting this into practice is a tad complicated. If you do want to learn more about this you may want to check out WP Beginner’s post on the subject.
Overall, my favorite approach is “Post name” which basically involves changing what is called the “slug.” Don’t let this little bit of jargon faze you, it is really easy to manipulate the slug. One merely clicks the “Edit” button as shown below:
Clicking “Edit” brings up a selection into which one can insert SEO-friendly keywords/keyphrases:
Make sure to use dashes rather than underscores to separate your terms, and click the “OK” button to save your changes. In the above you can see how I’ve already done that for this very post!
Balancing Shares with Overall SEO Value
One thing that you may want to keep in mind is that by changing your URL structure, you will loose every social media share you’ve received thus far with your current URL. Now, clearly, this is not a worry if you are writing a new post. However, if the thought was to improve the SEO-friendliness for a blog post that’s been around a while, you may want to give some thought as to how much cred you may have lost. You should also consider that this essentially renders all backlinks others may have made to your site/post into broken links. That said, if you were using “Plain” or “Numerical” styled URL’s before, then you really don’t need to preserve them. The reason for this is that although you will lose shares, the benefits–again, from an SEO perspective–still outweigh the drawbacks.
Editing Your Permalink
There are some important things to be mindful of when it comes to editing URL’s. Firstly, try to keep your editions focused squarely on your subject. Secondly, feel free to edit out any words that have little to no value SEO-wise. There really is no help from the “to,” “a” or “of” in a given title: e.g. “4-easy-steps-to-making-a-mess-of-your-room.”
Also, keep titles succinct. While the length of your URL is not, by itself, a ranking factor, keep in mind the overall readability which could come into play in sharing a post link in FB Messenger or Twitter.
Use dashes, and not underscores. The reason for this is very simple: Google does not recognize underscores as valid separators of your URL’s. Therefore the care you took in crafting your URL’s would be for naught if you were to use underscores.
Overall, one wants to take the time to craft a really SEO-friendly URL for blog posts, and even the permalinks to your site’s various pages. For both, the consideration is to craft the sort of language that will make your site end up in search engine results pages (SERP’s). You got this!