There’s always something to howl about

Project Bloodhound: URL Structure

When you start browsing through blogs and as you click from post to post and page to page, watch the address bar. Here are some examples:
This is the one from the post that we chose for the SEO contest.
Here is one of my posts on BHB

Why the difference?
First off, Greg uses what is known as the default permalink structure. The one that comes out of the box. He did this because when he fired up BHB, it made referencing the posts easier for him. There is NOTHING wrong with this. Optimization is about making choices and trade offs, not about good and evil.

I chose a more keyword based structure that has become pretty popular these days. Here’s how you do it:
In WP go to Settings: and then Permalinks. You will see this:

Here’s a closer look:

These are your choices and you can see that I went to “Custom” and typed in /%postname%/ and hit save changes. Simple as that. IMPORTANT NOTE: On a few hosts this will barf up an error saying that the Permalink structure cannot be changed. If you are on GoDaddy or 1and1, feel free to email me and I will tell you how to solve this.

The effect of this is that any posts you write will include the title of the post in the url. For me, it makes it easier for the reader AND for the search engines. Doing something SOLELY for the sake of search engines is rarely if ever wise. Ideally, what enhances user experience and adds relevance will help you rank (having a site made of FLASH would be a BIG exception to that…)

Why you should NOT just arbitrarily go and change this with an established blog. Simply put, the search engines already knows where all of Greg’s posts are. He is right IMO to NOT change things and move their “cheese”. You can and redirect the old posts’ URLs to the new ones with a 301 redirect, but that can be WORK. I wanted to keep this simple. And while they figured out where everything was / is, he would lose some longtail goodness.

Stephanie, in your question, your current site is written in ASP (all of the url’s end in .asp or .aspx) so WHATEVER you do, you are going to change the urls and need to do some redirecting. This is where the trade offs occur, unfortunately and some long tail traffic may well take a momentary hit IMO.

Search engine friendly urls help, but they are not everything. They are just one thing IMO.

This post is just a basic start. What I would love is for some other search engine savvy folks to add to this with specific ideas for Stephanie’s site and give her some love. Here’s the post I am referring to.


10 Comments so far

  1. Todd June 29th, 2008 5:38 am

    An additional resource, slightly more advanced than merely running WordPress, is making the switch to Drupal – for its awesome SEO friendly URL tools:

    “Unlike WordPress, Drupal gives you precise control over URL structure. Each item of content in Drupal (called a node) can be given a custom URL (called a URL alias). In WordPress you are generally limited to one type of permalink URL for all posts. You can override the “post slug”, but it’s much less precise than Drupal’s URL aliases. You can also automate custom URL structures for each different content type with the Pathauto Module. The Global Redirect Module will automatically 301 redirect the internal Drupal URL to the custom URL alias. Unlike many other content management systems, Drupal’s content pages have nice clean URLs…”

    Lots of info here:

  2. Mark A. June 29th, 2008 7:43 am

    What a timely post, as I just found this new plugin for WordPress users in my feed reader:

  3. Stephanie Edwards-Musa June 29th, 2008 7:48 am

    Hi Eric, That is an awesome explanation, Thanks! Guess that I won’t worry about it for now, and when I get closer to switching over I’ll take a closer look at redirecting and how to do all of that.

    Thanks for all of that Eric! I can’t believe that I don’t have another question here. Wow.

  4. Malok June 29th, 2008 7:59 am

    Thats how I have my blogs set up. Just have to get it set up that way right after the wordpress install so you don’t have hassles later of trying to mess with it on an established site.

  5. Cheryl Johnson June 29th, 2008 8:36 am

    Thanks, Eric!

    If anyone wants it, here is the fully illustrated description of how to do this:

    Including the Go-Daddy part.

  6. Chris D June 29th, 2008 9:35 am

    The latest WP does 301’s automatically, and I’ve been using the ‘All in One SEO plugin’, which works terrific.

  7. Eric Blackwell June 29th, 2008 1:19 pm

    @Cheryl– No, thank you! I appreciate how well you do that!

    @Chris D – Correct, and All-in-One works great IMO Stephanie’s specific case, though…she is going from a different blog to WP..meaning that she’d need to do it by hand.

  8. jay June 29th, 2008 2:50 pm

    Shift! I’ll never be smart enough to wordpress.

    I have a new website I want to start non related to RE–a hobby/project if you will. Maybe I should consider learning.

    What is the absolute goto resource or dummies guide for setting up a wordpress blog step by step including ftp directions, modifying banners, deciding how many sections you want, etc. Before I shell out buck$ for a template w/ CMS I probably should look into it.


  9. Cheryl Johnson June 29th, 2008 5:34 pm

    Jay: I really do have quite a bit of step-by-step stuff at (WordPress only) and (all kinds of stuff) And I’ll be adding more as time allows.

    If it’s a hobby project, you might want to sign up for a account, just to get the feel of it. After, all it’s free.

  10. Stephanie Edwards-Musa July 3rd, 2008 9:54 am

    Hi Eric and Cheryl,

    I think I am finally done getting my plugins organized and up.

    Next, I’ll be organizing the content and moving links over. If I set up pages now within the temp. URL, will the links be broken when I change over the domain name?

    Also, @nik_nik mentioned the other day that switching over her blogger account to wp wasn’t as hard with a maintain permalink plugin, wondering if it is worth a shot…?

    Guess what I’m saying is, what in what order do I need to start switching everything over with minimal down time on the existing site?

    So many questions. Sorry. I’m just afraid that I’ll mess something up royally.