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The easiest way to get a website online is by using WordPress. I’ve always recommended WordPress to new users and all of my own websites are build using the platform.
There are many benefits to using WordPress including it’s ease of customization and the fact that Google loves WordPress sites.
One of the reasons Google loves these sites is because the built in SEO configurations allow it to take some of the stress away from the user so you can do what’s really important – posting great content.
There is one area that I personally do not ignore. I do not let WordPress choose my permalinks for me.
Setting Up WordPress Permalinks
By default, WordPress permalinks, the part of the url after your domain name looks very clunky. It looks something like this:
To the reader this means nothing and doesn’t add anything to the overall user experience. However, you can customize the permalink from within your settings to show the post title as the permalink. It is recommended that you do this while setting up your blog. Website building solutions like Siterubix uses this as a default so you won’t have to worry about changing anything.
With the post title settings for permalinks, your new url will look like this:
This one is a little better and users can now see what your page is about if you send the link in an email or post it to a forum or Facebook. You’re more likely to get clicks for this structure than you would for the permalink with the number.
It’s still not perfect for me though.
Removing Stop Words
SEO can be subjective at times. While there are set rules to pleasing search engines, some people may choose to do certain things differently. It may work for them but yet another website owner may argue against it. The truth is that both arguments may be right and it probably doesn’t matter.
While some may argue that stop words (common words like “i”, “and”, “the”) don’t have much effect on SEO, I prefer not to have them and actually used a plugin called SEO Slugs to remove them. With SEO Slugs, when I made a post, the plugin would remove all the stop words leaving a shorter url like:
To me this is a much better url than the default one with all the words from the post title. There are still a couple of problems.
- I prefer not using plugins if I don’t have to. Using too many plugins can overload and slow your sites.
- In some cases the urls are still very long but without stop words.
Shorter, More Efficient Permalinks
When you’re editing a post or page in WordPress, I noticed that there is a way to edit the permalink right in the window. You just click on the permalink (or click the “Edit” button) and type whatever you’d like the permalink to be.
After I realized I could do this, I got rid of the plugin and started letting WordPress choose my permalinks for me, then editing them to show my desired permalink.
For this post, I just used the word “permalinks” because that’s what I’m talking about here. I could be more specific and call it “wordpress-permalinks” but there are a couple of other reason why I keep my permalinks short.
(1) I can remember them easier – I think it started with my Wealthy Affiliate review. I kept wanting to refer to the review and would constantly have to go back and copy/paste the url. This meant looking up the post on my site or a link to it so that I had the right link. I eventually gave it a shorter url and ever since, I didn’t have to even check the site to remember the url. This came in handy when I was out and needed to give a friend a link to the review. I just grabbed a piece of paper and wrote it down from memory.
(2) Looks great when shared – A lot of times when you share your url in other places online, like some forums, your url can end up getting truncated even though the link is still there. On Twitter, unless you use a shortener service link bitly.com, your long url can become retweet unfriendly. With short permalinks, you can include the entire link and it looks great. People can instantly tell where the link goes and it doesn’t take up much space, leaving room for commentary when retweeting on Twitter.
(3) Google prefers shorter urls – This point may require it’s own post and I might possibly be asking for an argument here so I won’t go too much into it. I’ll just say that it’s possible that Google uses url length as a ranking factor. One thing I’ve noticed is that Blogger blogs no matter how long your title is, will cut off your url after the first six words. And here is a quote of Google’s Matt Cutts from an old interview (check the permalink vs the post title on that page).
If you can make your title four – or five words long – and it is pretty natural. If you have got a three, four or five words in your URL, that can be perfectly normal. As it gets a little longer, then it starts to look a little worse. Now, our algorithms typically will just weight those words less and just not give you as much credit.
The thing to be aware of is, ask yourself: “How does this look to a regular user?” – because if, at any time, somebody comes to your page or, maybe, a competitor does a search and finds 15 words all strung together like variants of the same word, then that does look like spam, and they often will send a spam report. Then somebody will go and check that out.
These are just my reasons for making my urls in WordPress shorter and more usable for both myself and readers. So what do you think? Do you think my urls are sexy?