Search Engine Optimization continues to be an enigma to many bloggers. There is probably no end to the tweaks and tricks one can implement to rank higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), but some of those tactics require a full-blooded Geek to perform. The point of today’s post is to share the first of six tips the average blogger can take without spending half your salary on an SEO expert or most of your vacation days to set up.
Keyword Rich Permalinks
Quite possibly the easiest thing you can do to better optimize your site for search engines is to include keywords in your permalinks. A post’s permalink displays in the address bar when a reader clicks on the post title. The WordPress default structure is www.yourdomainname.com/?p=123. Looks confusing, right? Google thinks so, too. And if Google ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. There’s a big discussion in SEO-land about which structure is best, but everyone agrees you need to change it from the default setting.
You can adjust your blog’s settings in the dashboard. I use /%postname%/ but some gurus say you should start with a numeric value and suggest /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%/. I’ve read so many opinions on which one of these structures is best, that my advice to you is pick one or flip a coin.
Once you’ve selected your actual blog permalink structure, you’ll likely need to change the permalink for each post. Why? After you set /%postname%/ as your blog’s structure (whether or not you choose to include the year and month), the permalink will automatically include your post’s title in the unique URL for that post (which is what a permalink is, in case you didn’t know). Problem is, headlines are written for humans, not Googlebots. You’ll want a great headline to intice your reader to continue reading (such as “Six Quick & Easy SEO Tactics Anyone Can Do”), but you’ll want your permalink to be short and include the keywords you’d like the post to rank for. (If you’ll look in your browser’s address bar, you’ll notice I changed this post’s permalink to “Easy SEO Tips.)
How do I change my permalinks?
This is done in the New or Edit Post screen of your WordPress dashboard. (See image below.)
Simply click on the “Edit” button next to the title tag, type in your new text (highlighted in blue in the above image), and the button text will change to “Save.” Click “Save” and you’re done.
Why should I change them?
As far as search engines are concerned, when it comes to permalinks, shorter is better. A longer title may intrigue your readers to click open the post, but few of them look up into the browser’s address bar after opening the post. And if they do and notice the permalink is different than the actual post title, they’ll likely think, “Hey — this is one smart blogger! She’s optimizing her site for search engines.”
Is this a big deal?
Well, like I said, if Google ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
Should I go back and change my previous posts to include keywords?
No. And I know this doesn’t make sense because first I tell you to input keywords in your permalinks and now I’m telling you to leave well enough alone for the posts you’ve already published. That’s because changes to your permalinks after publishing a post can also upset the Google applecart due to redirect errors (the dreaded 404 page), duplicate content in feed readers, and other issues. So, the morale to this story is to make sure you’ve got the permalink you want before you click the publish button.
This series will continue on SEO Saturdays, but should you want the entire list of six quick and easy SEO tactics immediately, sign up for my email newsletter (form is in the upper right sidebar) and you’ll get the remaining tips spread over the next five days instead of the next five weeks.
Until next time,