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Great SEO with Great Blog Links

by Steve Fisher on February 1, 2010

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If you are writing a blog or thinking about writing a blog, you might be focused on crafting that awesome, catchy title you might be missing a very important component of Search Engine Optimization in blogs. That is the actual web link of the blog post. Inside of the dashboard of WordPress at the bottom on the left section column under “Settings” there is a sub-section called “Permalinks”. These permalinks are what you use to create the structure of your post links on all published content. There are many different ways and structures of permalinks that give you flexibility to fit your need but it can also be a problem if you don’t implement it right from the beginning.

Avoiding the Dreaded Duplicate Content Issue

Ok, so I might have to get a bit geeky here but in search engines like Google, if they see your post or index it as they call it and find a duplicate post they will cancel each other out making in impossible to come up in search results. I was reading a great article on this from Michael Bubbo and he explains this part really well so I will let him talk for a minute:

“Basically, the biggest hurdle I found is making sure your posts and pages do not succumb to the infamous “infinite” duplicate content bug, which occurs when Google indexes your post permalinks with and without a trailing slash (if you are using just /%postname%/) and whenever someone types ANY combination of characters into the category portion of your permalink (if you are using /%category%/%postname%/).

Hard to imagine that if you type domain.com/2008/your-post/ or domain.com/FAIL/your-post/ that Google may end up indexing both and therefore create the dreaded duplicate content scenario! But it’s true, try it on your own blog…and if you want more details on this, you can check out this blog post on permalink structure and duplicate content.”

If You Already have Content you can still fix this and Improve SEO Results

They way to fix this is to first download and activate the Permalink Redirect WordPress Plugin. It integrates a 301 redirect solution for any old permalink structures that you have stopped using — thereby saving all those potentially lost visitors.

Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, go to Settings –> Permalinks in your WordPress Admin panel and COPY your current Permalink Structure.

Creating a Good Structure for Your Blog Links

There are many good ways to go about creating a good SEO friendly structure. Michael Bubbo points out correctly that “Google does NOT want a trailing slash and would like posts to end with .html — which is something I personally do not use, as some visitors may type in a permalink and forget to add .html! Instead, compromise by dropping the trailing slash and keeping your WordPress permalink format short and sweet.”

Top 5 WordPress Permalink Structure Suggestions

/%year%/%postname%
i.e. www.yourdomain.com/blog/2009/post-name
My personal favorite, please note there is NO TRAILING SLASH after Postname!

/%postname%
i.e. www.yourdomain.com/blog/post-name
A very popular choice, WordPress will automatically add a dash and numerical value if you use the same Post Title more than once (no worries there!). Again, please note there is NO TRAILING SLASH after Postname!

/%category%/%postname%
i.e. www.yourdomain.com/blog/category-name/post-name
Standard Blog issue, please note there is NO TRAILING SLASH after Postname!

/%postname%.html
i.e. www.yourdomain.com/blog/post-name.html
Google’s favorite, every blog entry post ends with .html

/%category%/%postname%.html
i.e. www.yourdomain.com/blog/category-name/post-name.html
Google + Standard Hybrid, every blog entry post ends with .html

My preference? I really like %postname% because it is simple and works on basic web sites as well as more flat structures. If you are building a blog with lots of content you might want to go with /%category%/%postname% OR /%year%/%postname%.

Michael’s post has more instructions on making this plugin go smoothly over at his post “Best Permalink Structure” so I would check it out.

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