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How to Design Friendlier and Smarter Blog Page Permalinks

Optimized blog page permalinks make it easier for other sites to link to you. Thus, if you design better permalinks for your blog, you will reap more blog visitors. The placement of your blog in search engine query results is directly impacted by one factor that is almost out of your control: how many other sites link to you.

Good blog design requires clean permalinks that partner sites can trust. If other sites try to link to yours, but your URLs change, not only does your present ranking decline but your future ranking as well.

How the default permalink syntax works

Search engines use the words within a permalink to help classify your page, so the better optimized your permalink is, the more quality visitors your page attracts. The syntax applied by default to each permalink depends upon the platform hosting your blog. Blogger’s default structure uses the date of post, like so:

http://blogname.blogspot.com/2013/01/blog-post-title.html

For WordPress.org, the default structure looks like this:

http://www.blogname.com/?p=123

The WordPress.org default syntax is not so great from a navigation perspective, because it says nothing about the post. That means your URL isn’t helpful in telling the search engines (or people) about the page’s content.

Choose a better permalink syntax for your blog

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Luckily, WordPress gives you a lot of alternatives. When changing your permalink settings in WordPress.org, Post Name is good, but the slightly longer Month and Name option may be better. Both offer complete descriptions. The downside with Month and Name is that it might deter some people from visiting really old posts.

Set up a 301 redirect link on your blog

When you change your permalink’s syntax, you need to set up a 301 redirect — a permanent redirect to a new permalink. That way, you don’t have to worry about broken links if another website linked to your blog using the syntax in place before you changed your permalinks.

Search engines assume that the more sites that link to you (your home page, blog post, or page) the more relevant your content is for a particular search term. From an SEO standpoint, a 301 redirect passes between 90 and 99 percent of that page’s link power — affectionately called “link juice” — to the new permalink.

You can set up the redirect with a WordPress plug-in like Redirection or, if you prefer harder code, by following the instructions on the WordPress.org Codex site.

Change the permalink for individual blog posts

If you don’t want to change your entire permalink structure, you can change just individual posts and pages when needed. In fact, your permalink’s contents do not need to match the page’s title or contents exactly at all. For example, your About page permalink might include a specific name, like this:

blogname.com/about-firstname-lastname

That specific name makes the permalink a bit more descriptive than a permalink with only the word about at the end, like this:

blogname.com/about

A more specific permalink is more SEO-friendly for those visitors who might search you by name. If you have a long blog post title, you can adjust the permalink to be more focused on a keyword versus using a full title.

To change a single post or page on Blogger:

  1. Create a new post or page.

  2. Choose Post Settings→Permalink.

  3. Make sure that Custom URL is selected, then enter your custom permalink.

  4. Click Done when finished.

When you change a permalink on a Blogger post or page that’s already been published, the original link does not redirect to your new permalink. For this reason, change only permalinks that are still new (when fewer people are aware of the URL) or that have not been published yet.

To change a single post or page in WordPress.org:

  1. Go to the post or page.

  2. Next to the permalink, under Blog Post Title, click Edit.

  3. Make your change in the field.

  4. Click OK to save.

After you’ve changed a single previously published URL, Wordpress.org keeps both the old and the new permalink active.

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