From high traffic blogs to online stores, your URL permalink structure matters. It’s an SEO ranking factor and before you begin publishing content you should give it some thought as to the best permalink structure for your website.
Is it best to go with example.com/post-title/ or should you use example.com/blog/post-title? What about including dates or categories in the URL structure? I know it can get a bit confusing so I’m going to break down everything to help you make the correct decision for your website.
Depending on the platform and content management system your using for your website will determine if you even have control over changing the permalinks. Free platforms like Blogger don’t really give you much control over your permalinks while website builders and WordPress typically give you more optimal control. In this content I’m assuming you have the ability to change your permalinks.
Permalinks for SEO
SEO friendly permalinks need to be user friendly, logical, well organized and explain what the page is about. In short a good permalink for SEO has the following:
- Includes your target keyword
- Use hyphens and not underscores
- Be secure by using https (not http – it’s now a ranking factor)
- Use a custom structure depending on the site
- Avoid having extensions like .html at the end
Remember, the “perma” in permalink stands for “permanent” and while you technically can change your structure anytime you want, this is a sure fire way to ruin your hard won SEO as permalinks are supposed to be permanent.
With that out of the way, let’s cover the best permalink structures for blogs, websites and online stores. There are only a handful of options in my opinion to select from:
This is the most optimal structure for an information website and blog with under 1000 blog posts. It’s simple, clean and makes your blog easy to navigate and understand for both search engines and the traffic they send to your website.
However, if your website has some other key focus like an ecommerce website then you should avoid using “post name” as any blog post you create will look like a random page on your website. If there is another focus of your site beyond blog posts, then go with a blog prefix.
- Great for content driven websites.
- Clean, simple and easy to understand.
- Not ideal for ecommerce websites.
- A poor choice for large publishers with a lot of content.
This structure is essential if your website has some other core offering beyond blog content. If your an agency, ecommerce website or providing a service and using blogging as a marketing method then you need to add the “blog” prefix to help give a logical, well organized structure to your site.
This prefix will enable your website to be better structured and more understandable by separating the blog content from other pages on your website and the core offering. So with a dedicated blog section for your store, you can link it in your main menu and separate the content as needed for the end visitor.
If you do strictly have an information website and decide to use the blog prefix it’s fine too. But I’ve found “post title” to be better for information websites.
- Optimal if your website has specific core service that is separate from blogging.
- Essential for ecommerce websites owners who want to blog.
- A decent choice for content driven websites as well.
- Makes content driven websites URL’s needlessly long. Go with post title or a category prefix instead.
This structure is ideal for massive information websites with over 1000 blog posts where you start to have an unwieldy amount of content and ecommerce websites with a lot product categories.
Something like example.com/career/money/post-title allows you to create content about making money as it relates to a career for example. This is great if you’re covering a wide array of content and need to organize multiple content verticals of your website. For the majority of information websites however, using the post name structure is adequate.
Last, if you’re running an ecommerce website you’ll want to organize everything into product categories like store.com/shirt/product-page and blog posts as store.com/blog/post-title (using the previous structure).
Begin using sub-categories when you start to sell a lot of specific products and need better organization of your website.
- Very useful for any large website with a lot of content.
- A necessary choice for large ecommerce websites with multiple product categories and a blog.
- If you don’t have a large website, it’s not necessary.
Having dates in your URL is probably the worst structure possible unless you’re running a news website with time sensitive content (then you should use dates). If you’re not managing a news website, never use dates.
Even Neil Patel (whos site uses the blog/post-name structure) is on record saying that when he switched his first blog from dates to “post name” he noticed a much better performance in search traffic.
I experienced the same thing too when I moved my personal blog from blogger which requires the use of dates in the URL to ghost.org which has a post name structure. The performance overall has been much better.
- Important, useful and helpful for time sensitive content and news websites.
- For all other use cases it’s one of the worst permalink choices.
Permalink Settings FAQ
Should I use “blog” as a directory?
No, the use of a blog as a directory (blog.example.com) is not as effective for SEO as using it as a prefix. The directory function is very helpful if you’re offering a totally different service or product vertical from the core of your website, but a blog for most websites is a marketing tool. Not a different service.
Let’s look at maps.google.com, this is a great structure because Google’s core offering is a search engine. The map function however is totally and completely different and should be a directory.
If all you’re wanting to do is add a blog onto your website for content marketing purposes, adding it as a directory is usually a bad idea as search engines treat directories as mostly separate websites. It’s more beneficial for your SEO if you’re running an ecommerce website or agency to use the blog prefix.
Is having .html in my permalink structure bad?
It’s irrelevant and does not matter. On the blogger platform you’ll notice all URL’s have an .html at the end. Even some older blogs like Making Sense of Cents that is powered by the WordPress CMS on the back end use .html.
I personally don’t like having this pointless extension because it servers no purpose for the end visitor. But with regards to SEO it won’t hurt or help your website if your posts or pages have .html. For more, watch this video from the official YouTube channel for Google search:
Does the position of keywords in the URL matter?
You should always strive to include your keywords in a natural, organic way in your URL. You don’t need to over optimize your URL’s and you should remove excessive words that make your URL needlessly long.
Your URL really does not need to match exactly the title of the blog post if it causes an excessively long URL. My blog post on creating a website has the on page title:
“How To Create a Website – An Easy, Step 1 to Done Tutorial for Beginners”
The URL however for this post is davidutke.com/create-a-website as it contains the focus keyword and general idea of what the blog post is about. Davidutke.com/how-to-create-a-website is fine too.
But having a URL like davidutke.com/how-to-create-a-website-an-easy-step-1-to-done-tutorial-for-beginners is ridiculously long and not user friendly. In short, the position matters as it’s a slight ranking factor. Just make sure to include the main keyword and keep your URL’s user friendly.
Should you change your URL structure?
This is not a simple yes or no answer. If your blog or website is new and not getting a lot of traffic then sure, change the URL structure if you made a mistake. But if your website is using /post-title or blog/post-title for a year or two and you’re getting 500+ visitors a day then it’s risky with not a lot of upside benefit.
However if you’re using dates in your URL and are not a news website or for some reason are using the default p=123 permalink structure from WordPress then yes you should change your permalink structure.
If you do decide to change your permalink structure on an established website then make sure to 301 redirect all your old URL’s to the new URL’s as a way to avoid a loss in organic traffic and a loss of rankings.
Is using the category and blog prefix together a good idea?
I would avoid this structure as you’re making your URL’s a bit pointlessly long and pick either the blog prefix or the category prefix in your blog posts, but not both.
Having example.com/blog/category/post-title is getting a little bit long for my liking and not adding much usability for the end visitor.
Should I strip the category base?
In most instances you should not. With a blog you’ll have pages, posts and category pages that are an archive of content that are actually functionally different than a blog post. You also run into the issue where you could have two pages on your site competing for the same keyword which is not ideal for SEO.
A great example is AdamEnfroy.com. His site has both adamenfroy.com/make-money-online (a category) and adamenfroy.com/how-to-make-money-online (a blog post). Google is pretty sophisticated at sorting things out, but why make it complicated?
With WordPress all blog posts have to be categorized. Because of this you end up creating pages, blog posts and category pages. With SEO plugins like Rank Math, All in One SEO and Yoast you can remove the category base with the click of a button but in general I would leave it.
If you don’t like the word “category” you can simply jump into your settings in your WordPress install and change the category base word to something like “topics” as an alternative if you like.
Best Permalinks for SEO – Conclusion
Permalinks are small factor in your overall SEO strategy and hopefully by now you have a strong understanding of how to best structure your blog content and product pages for the best overall user experience.
David UtkeDavid Utke is a professional blogger, YouTuber and a highly rated user experience consultant. He and his team create helpful tutorials, software reviews, videos and more based on real-world experience. Join over 30,000 monthly readers and 20k+ YouTube subscribers!
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