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Best Permalink Structure for Your Blog Posts

More and more real estate agents are using self-hosted WordPress blogs these days, as I do on all my sites so far.  Here’s something you should know about how to choose the best permalink naming structure.

(The permalink is how the URL will look for that blog post.  For example, for this post the URL (permalink) will read “http://www.toolsforrealestate.com/best-permalink-structure-for-blog-posts.)

1.  The default blog post naming structure WordPress will give you looks like this:

http://www.yoursite.com/?p=123

This is terrible for search engines, since ?p=123 doesn’t say anything about what the post is about.

2. Most people do what I did, which is to instead select one of the other naming structure options provided by WordPress.  A really common one looks like this:

http://www.yoursite.com/2008/12/21/post-name/

where ‘post-name’ is the the title of your blog post.

This url includes the date of the post.  What I didn’t realize until just recently is that if you update your post at a later date the url changes to reflect the new date.  This messes up the search engines and anyone who linked to your (most excellent) post because it now has a new url.

(I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone in the next day to edit old posts.  Aagh!)

3.  A good choice is to select ‘Custom Structure’ and then use either just the post name:

/%postname%/

or the category and post name:

/%category%/%postname%/

This means that you can go in and update your old posts without losing the old url, since it doesn’t include the date.

So… what if you want to switch to a url with no date, but you already have a bunch of old posts with dates in the url and you’re afraid of losing links to them?

(When you change the naming structure in WordPress it changes all of your old post urls as well.)

4.  There’s a great blog plug-in called Dean’s Permalink Migration that creates a Permanent Redirect from all your old url formats to the new one.

This keeps the search engines happy and doesn’t break any links from the people who linked to you. It’s also VERY easy to use.

Just upload and activate the plug-in, go into the Permalinks Migration section to make sure that the old naming structure is correct (you can copy and paste from your permalinks setting if it’s not,) click ‘update’ in the Permalinks Migration section, then go into the Permalinks setting of your WordPress blog and choose whatever naming structure you want.

Update Feb. 4th 2009: This plugin DOES work, however the examples below may no longer work because of another change we did to our website since this blog post.

I just did this with two blogs and tested it by clicking on an old url to see if it went to the new url.  To test it yourself, click on:

http://www.toolsforrealestate.com/blog/2008/12/20/sending-an-email-newsletter-make-sure-your-content-rocks/

and you’ll see it will go to:

http://www.toolsforrealestate.com/blog/sending-an-email-newsletter-make-sure-your-content-rocks/

Here’s the link again for Dean’s Permalink Migration Plugin:

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

I love things that work. 🙂

Irene Nash
 

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