Using SEO Friendly URLs For Better Search Results

While reading through the Review My Blog for a Free Linkback reviews, I came across quite a few blogs that are using the default WordPress URL permalink system. This is a mistake many new bloggers make and it may cost you in lower Google search ranking. Fortunately, this mistake is very easy to correct.

Dynamic URL vs. SEO Friendly URL

By default, WordPress names its URL with a dynamically generated sequential number. The number is placed after the domain name and looks something like http://www.johnchow.com/?p=1508. To Google, this doesn’t mean anything. Google will have to spider my content to figure out what the article is about. Contrast this with http://www.johnchow.com/new-ad-network-auctionads/. With this SEO friendly URL, Google can figure out immediately what the article is about. I have a much better chance of showing up in the search engine results page using a SEO friendly URL than a dynamic one.

Turning On SEO Friendly URL

To turn on SEO friendly URL, go to Options in your WordPress control panel and choose Permalinks. From there you have four choices for displaying your URL: Default, Date and name based, Numeric, and Custom. You will want to use Date and name based or custom because they are the most search engine friendly. I use the custom setting for my URLs – it shows my domain name followed by the post name. The custom structure to do it this is /%postname%/

Before WordPress can update to SEO friendly URL, you need to make your .htaccess file writable. FTP into your site, find your .htaccess file in the root folder and CHMOD it to 666. 😈 You can set it back to normal after WordPress updates the permalink structure.

If you’re not running SEO Friendly URLs, then go turn it on now.


60 thoughts on “Using SEO Friendly URLs For Better Search Results”

  1. Paul J. says:

    John I was able to figure out the SEO friendly URL early in the game. I come across many skilled bloggers that use the default dynamic url. I often wonder if they had been using the SEO friendly URL from the begining their traffic stats might have been much different.

    1. Andrew Chen says:

      🙄 I kind of remember there was similar post on this blog. Maybe I remember it wrong.

      I use friendly URL also. I go further to add a HTML extension at the end of the friendly URL to make the post look like a static page. The reason is that I heard some search engine only index static web pages.

      1. Ashish Mohta says:

        I dont think so…what matters to search engine is you have a good content with proper keyword.I have seen news channels with only number and still coming on google search

  2. Marc says:

    Google can interpret dynamic URLs. It’s not a death sentence. It is better to go with something structured, but if you do, keep in mind that you need to redirect to make sure that your old backlinks count towards your new URLs.

    1. Jonix says:

      It can, but i’ve alot more of better changes if your url is directory style. Alot alot more.
      Also the importance of the title and description are enormous, it makes a very big difference.

    2. Ashish Mohta says:

      thats the main problem.If your site is indexed and you have a lot of back link its not easy to get those backlinks

  3. Michael Kwan says:

    It’s almost ironic, really, because the main reason why I made the change in my WordPress is so that the links to my older articles (when I made the move from GoDaddy QuickBlog) would still work.

    1. Ashish Mohta says:

      It can wokr if you have a proper redirect but again we need who experienced this

  4. ilker says:

    Great point.. I’m lucky my Blogspot does this by default! :mrgreen: Google is getting evil these days though 👿

    1. ilker says:

      Apart from the ReviewMe reviews.. I just can’t afforf $250!! Do you have a student discount? 😉

    2. Ashish Mohta says:

      Blogspot has some good features in url friendliness but again some good things are missing i guess its a just another side of the coin

  5. Yeah, this is one of the first things I do when setting up WordPress blogs. I’m wondering why WordPress doesn’t come with these SEO friendly URLs by default…

    Google didn’t like dynamic URLs because they didn’t want to index similar pages that only had 1 or 2 parameters that were different – but they are able to better handle dynamic pages now.

    1. Kenny says:

      For those that do not know how to set it up, there is a chance it will not work (WordPress needs to be able to write to htaccess).

      Of course there are also lots of people that are not interested in indexing very well in the search engines.

      Using WordPress with the default dynamic URL setting still works quite well as it is quite SEO optimized as it is even without titles in the URL.

    2. Ashish Mohta says:

      You have a good point there.Instead of using plugins if wordpress can change o give an option at the time of installation for what kind of permlink we want to use it will be an easy life for wordpress users

  6. Leftblank says:

    Nice tip, but I’d personally recommend to put -%post_id% in it as well, that way links wont break when you change the post title – something I do a lot and I doubt I’m the only one!

    1. Marc says:

      Now that’s a heck of a tip. I had been planning to switch away from post ID to use titles, but that’s something I hadn’t thought of…

      Hmmm….

    2. HMTKSteve says:

      Umm… That’s what the post slug is for!

      1. Marc says:

        Excellent point… Looks like I won’t have to think after all 😉 Thanks Steve 🙂

    3. Ashish Mohta says:

      Post id doesnt have keywords that why putting it in title will make no difference,Google algorithm wont take numbers as keywords its based on english

  7. Tyler says:

    I did this and didn’t redirect, so my incoming links were wonky…luckily I am new and made the change early on before everyone here starts to link to my blog 😀

    1. Ashish Mohta says:

      You are lucky enough….But if your site is indexed well it will still work for older blogs

  8. Kenny says:

    John should definitely put in a note for established blogs to not just switch to the title in URL format if they have been using the dynamic form.

    There are plugins available that help bloggers change their permalink structure. I don’t have much experience with them as I made the change from day 0. 🙂

    1. HMTKSteve says:

      Very true.

      I recently moved from a different blog platform to WordPress and had to write a special redirect file so that people using my old links would not get 404 errors.

    2. Ashish Mohta says:

      If somebody can come out with a post how it affected when he changed the url using plugin it can make more impact

  9. Ryan says:

    This is definately something everyone should be doing, and on I also like remove the date field like you do here John. Helps make the URLs e-mail friendly.

    1. Ashish Mohta says:

      I agree to you on this.Longer links do have some problem in enails.Hope there is a solution

  10. Philip Liu says:

    Got to be careful with old permalinks. Both in the search engines as well as in the post links themselves. Be sure the old permalinks redirect to the new ones.

    1. Leftblank says:

      ‘Yet another reason to use the postid in permalinks’ 😉

  11. john i think you gave this tip a while ago…unless you just told me personally…

    1. John Chow says:

      I just told you personally.

  12. HMTKSteve says:

    If you remove the .html from your links will they still work with a wordPress blog?

    What I mean is if the old link is /blog/cool-interview.html and you change your permalink structure to drop the .html, will the old link still work?

    1. Ashish Mohta says:

      I dont think so.Google taks it as one file name…extension doesnt matter to google what matters is url.So even if you change an alphabet there its new for google

  13. Andreas Bard says:

    Thank you for mentioning this John. It turned out I had forgetten to do this on my main blog. I do not know how I could miss that but thanks to you its now fixed.

    // Andreas

  14. Gary Lee says:

    i’m worried mainly about what kind of effect changing the permalinks will do to my indexed content . . . Phillip mentioned something about redirecting your links, but how do you do that?

    1. Philip Liu says:

      Be careful and use at your own risk:

      1. Create file named .htaccess on your site root
      2. put the following line in your .htaccess file for each page you want to redirect:

      redirect 301 http://[Old website address] http://[new website address]

      I think there is also a plugin available that will automatically create all the redirects.

    2. Maki says:

      The WordPress plugin for permalink redirects can be found here:

      http://www.deanlee.cn/wordpress/permalinks-migration-plugin/

      1. Dave says:

        Good tip Maki. I actually added a post about the plugin on my blog a few days ago. It allows you to change your permalink structure but your old links still work and you won’t afect your search engine rankings.

    3. Ashish Mohta says:

      They say there is a plugin for that but I would recommend asking google on whats the affect of redirecting

  15. Wii says:

    It has come to my attention that John Chow needs a Nintendo Wii. The good news is that he can win one on my site!

  16. Erik says:

    Thanks John I ha completely forgotten that when I upgraded I had not taken it off default.

  17. Tyler Ingram says:

    What about those who don’t use WordPress? You going to show them how to use apache’s Mod_rewrite so they can do the same thing?

    😀

    1. Ashish Mohta says:

      Yes you can do it.Thats the only solution but then u should keep it updated every timme u make some changes with the url

  18. Jon says:

    I think the truly important thing is to not change it up all the time. Do one thing, and keep it consistent>

    and if you DO change something, make sure the old links still work so incoming links aren’t broken!

    1. Ashish Mohta says:

      Thats the reason now i am not doing it.Lets see how it will make the affect on my blog if i dont change it.Thats a game i am playing with google now

  19. Bes Z says:

    Good tip. Also, Jon is right; not changing it frequently is better. This requires a long term planning and sticking to it helps.

    Also, it is a mistake only when you think of SEO. In other cases, so far, you can get away with using standard permalinks if you know how to combine good content with good marketing.

    1. Ashish Mohta says:

      Thats the key content and keywords it can beat donw the sites having an excellent url structure

  20. Rehuel says:

    Is SEO friendly URL the right use of words? I think SEF (Search Engine Friendly) is a more appropriate usage.

    1. John Chow says:

      You are correct. But I wrote this article so I can get ranked for SEO. Far fewer people search for SEF. 😈

  21. Kenric says:

    John,

    Take a look at this article. It has a differing opinion based on Nemeas software. Don’t know who’s right, just thought it was interesting.

    http://www.artofmoney.org/internet-business/nemeas-review-how-to-choose-a-domain-name-part-3/

  22. Philip Liu says:

    Ashish is trying to make a run for the top commentor for the week! 14 comments and counting! 😯

  23. Ashish Mohta says:

    Lol at least i dont reply each and every comment either by supporting or saying yeah its good.I give a logic to comments coz i dont believe in getting top list by jusy making mere comments and moreover i dont have time to sit all day…I am off to work now so race beings tomorrow again this time lol peace

    No offenses please

  24. Zach says:

    i’m worried mainly about what kind of effect changing the permalinks will do to my indexed content . . . Phillip mentioned something about redirecting your links, but how do you do that?

  25. Andreas Bard says:

    For me the old URLs seem to load as good as the new ones.

  26. Lim says:

    By ignoring post date, will that be a problem if I accidentally create another content with same title some day?

  27. Everyone should absolutely do this – it makes it easier to link to sites.

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