Rethink your Permalinks and win.

March 12, 20112 Comments
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Many of you may have already noticed that the URL’s I use on this blog and others contain the date. I’ve been asked by many why I choose to keep this in place, and why I didn’t just go for the post title, which by many people’s thinking makes more sense for search engines. There are a couple of reasons, and they are worth sharing before you make the decision with a new blog yourself.

Performance

If you really want your blog to perform like a rocketship, and scale effectively with a ton of traffic, here’s the best practise for permalinks:

1) Do not start your permalink structure with the category, tag, author, or postname fields.

2) Select a structure that starts with a numeric field, i.e. the year or post ID.

3) Don’t listen to advice from so called experts that says you need just the post_name first to rank higher. Seriously, Googlebot isn’t stupid, and can spot a WordPress blog a mile away, picking out what your blog article is about using a combination of signals, not just the URL. In any case, I’ll outrank any numptie just using /%postname%/ with relevant links  any day of the week. Bottom line – date or no date in the URL –  Google is still able to determine relevance.

The technical reasons behind why 1 & 2 are important can be found here. In a nutshell, WordPress doesn’t have to work so hard to work things out. If you want further information on how it works, read and inwardly digest /wp-includes/rewrite.php.

Now that Google are concentrating on speed and the user experience (where they can) more and more in their algorithm, it makes absolute sense to optimise for speed.

Analytics

I’ve got my year, month, day in my URL’s, as a result I get a pretty awesome little report in Google Analytics, that you won’t get if you just use /%postname%/

Under content drilldown…

Not only can I see which categories drive the most engagement and pageviews via the category links – I can also see at a glance how the blog content has performed over time for the period in question.

I can break this down further by month to see which month of blogging was most successful, both in terms of pageviews and uniques.. Of course, revenue statistics for a particular month can also be pulled in with this if you’ve integrated your Google Adsense account.

This lets me see all kinds of useful data on the types of content that is working month on month.

Ultimately I’m not going dictate what permalink structure you should use when setting up a new blog, as everyone is different, but hopefully this should get you to rethink the decision based on goals and insight rather than just some blog post you’ve read by a so-called SEO expert.

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About the Author ()

Paul is a regular 30 year old web bloke / programmer with a penchant for online marketing. This blog is a personal outlet, with an eclectic mix of articles.

Comments (2)

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  1. Clare says:

    Interesting concept and I’ve never read before about the rules that WP uses to display the page in this way. As the Big G is all about speed I think I might switch up my permalinks to test this one out.

  2. Ileane says:

    Huh! Say that one more time just a little more slowly for us “numpties”…LOL!
    Seriously, I’m not sure I understand the point you’re making. How does having the date in the URL make the site faster?
    Also, if you want to know how your site is doing over time, can’t you just change the date range in Google Analytics?

    Sorry if I’m slow to catch on to this one so please have patience with me. :)

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