WordPress SEO Friendly URLs

This briefly discusses about SEO friendly URLs in WordPress. To accomplish this you need to navigate to Settings > Permalinks. You will see a Common Settings section at the top of this page. From here you will have radio options to select which type of url you would like displayed. Select the custom radio option then in the empty field copy and paste the following:

/%category%/%postname%-%post_id%.html

Then click the button ‘Save Changes’.

There are a few things to note. In the WordPress tutorial for creating permalinks, it states using the .html will not create static pages which is true since the WordPress pages are created dynamically. It goes on to state whether the html will have any SEO benefit at all with WordPress 2.3 or greater. Here is an excerpt from WordPress:

Canonical URL in WordPress & .html Extension:

WordPress versions prior to 2.3 lacked canonical URLs, making .html something very beneficial to add (forcing the URL to be canonical). Now it only provides limited, if any SEO benefits (see External Resources for further analysis).

I attempted to briefly search in the External Resources to verify if the addition of the .html extension did not have any SEO benefit or hardly any; however, I could not find any. On the contrary, I found Matt Cutts discuss the implementation of URL canonicalization. Canonicalizing a URL simply means deciding which URL (mostly SEO friendly URL in our case) to index for the same page. For instance, my site could be:

  • http://tutorialref.com
  • http://www.tutorialref.com
  • http://www.tutorialref.com/index.html

These are considered, technically, to be different urls by Google. So using the .html extension will indicate to the search engines to use that url rather than something obscure like http://tutorialref.com/?post_id=5. In addition, if the article id value ever changes for the same article (for whatever reason) then you can always let Google and other search engines know what the article’s url will always be. This rare case happened when I didn’t update my WordPress for awhile. Then one day when I decided to use the CPanel update for WordPress my entire site went blank (no server page error though). The data was still present since all the data is stored in the MySQL database. So all I need to do is extract the data and re-import this data into the new database of the updated and newer WordPress version. Through the permalinks, the URLs are still the same (with the .html extension) even though the article’s id number would or could be different.

Using %Post_id% parameter for SEO:

Just a note on using the %post_id% parameter in creating the SEO friendly url: I simply added this parameter since Google news requires it for their sitemap xml.

Advice on Setting Permalinks to Start with a Number

You’ll notice the WordPress article strongly advises against using the %category% or %post_name% parameters when creating your SEO urls as this could have serious performance implications. It states “Starting Permalinks with %category% is strongly not recommended for performance reasons.” However, upon further inquiry this problem seems to be when there are a few hundred attachments with the article posts. Since I’m not planning on adding attachments I don’t foresee this problem. This is a bug in the current version of WordPress 2.7.1. Read this bug report on the permalink rewrite structure.

I didn’t wish to have my url start with some date or number. I’m hoping this will be fixed – eventually; otherwise, I plan on tackling the bug myself if I encounter huge performance issues. If you feel there will be many (hundreds) attachments to your blog posts then please use a numerical value in the beginning such as the %day% parameter to avoid page latency even though there may be a sacrifice on the SEO.

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