WordPress Post Address Best Practices

The number 215 as painted on a plane most probably.

WordPress is – you might already know it – the most popular blogging platform and content management system on the Internet.

There are plenty of good reasons to use it although WordPress has also some major drawbacks

  • it’s bloated after years of development
  • it’s a frequent target for hackers
  • it has a cluttered admin interface

etc.

Nonetheless I use WordPress for more than one blog. Indeed I used WordPress since 2003 for numerous projects.

One of the benefits of using WordPress are the customizable post addresses. I still remember the days before WP and how difficult it was to get clean ones.

 

Why and how to change post addresses on WordPress

WordPress lets you change your post addresses with ease. They can get rewritten to offer the best possible user experience.

That’s nice but also there are some pitfalls. Why should you rewrite your so called URLs in the first place?

  • to make them readable and self explanatory
  • to make them Google friendly
  • for better archiving
  • to make them memorable

Now said that there is no one way to do that. There is no ideal URL structure for WordPress. It depends on what you need.

Just think about how you use your WordPress installation. WordPress can be used for multiple purposes:

  • as a blog (most probably but not necessarily)
  • as a website
  • as a news source
  • a an archive or library for real or metaphorically speaking
  • as an online store
  • as a forum

Now there are several ways to “design”- as in so called URL design – your WordPress post addresses. After years of practice my favorites are…

Stop, first I want to show you what the average WordPress URLs look like:

  1. example.com/?p=215
  2. example.com/category-name/wordpress-post-address-best-practices/
  3. example.com/2017/06/23/wordpress-post-address-best-practices

None of them are perfect, most of them have significant drawbacks.

#1 The number is short- There is no need for “tinyurl” services and it does not use any rewrite rules. I like that in some cases – for instance for blogs that have large numbers of short posts.

You can show off by having a four or five digit post number.

It tells you nothing about the content though. Imagine this link in an email. Would you click it or rather a link like that: example.com/britney-spears-naked

#2 The category and readable post address lets you categorize your content. Sadly WordPress categories do not work as expected. You can’t really choose which category is the most important one.

When you ascribe more than one category WP will almost randomly choose one.

Also, the “/” at the end mimics a directory which a post is not. Do you really want to trick your readers you dirty black hat SEO?

#3 The date and readable post address is great for a historical view but most blog readers expect current posts on a blog.

Do you really think someone will click on a link like example.com/2005/03/15/breaking-news ?

 

My own example

Now lets take a look at my own post address:
example.com/wordpress-post-address-best-practices

I love simplicity and I wanted my blog to appear to be a real website with real content not just ephemeral blog postings. It is not ideal for several reasons or rather purposes though.

Let’s say I make a list of 10 items and the add some more. I can’t change the URL though, as it would yield a 404 not found error n the old one.

Consider this URL again: example.com/?p=215

Now changing the headline does not have any impact on it. Now wouldn’t it be great to combine these two? Yes, as I am a man of “as well” instead of “either or” you can and should.

The solution is fairly simple:
example.com/215/wordpress-post-address-best-practices

This URL has a major advantage:

Long URLs send via email often get cut at the end or otherwise destroyed in the process of sending.

It does not matter with this one.

  • example.com/215/wordpress-post-address-best-practices
  • example.com/215/wordpress-post-ad
  • example.com/215/wordpress-post-address-%FC%DF%F6%E4
  • example.com/215/
  • example.com/?p=215

will all successfully lead to the same post.

Unfortunately this is not enough in many cases. As Google is quite stupid and does not know you are a blog unless you call yourself a blog you might want to use

example.com/blog/215/wordpress-post-address-best-practices

or better, if you want to rank for the often searched for keyword+blog combination:

example.com/seo-blog/215/wordpress-post-address-best-practices

You can achieve this either by uploading your WordPress installation into the real “blog” or “seo blog” directory on you server via FTP or by rewriting again. WordPress lets you add a so called “category_base”.

 

Dates are sweet

Many people still want to use the date in their URLs as they write news blogs and for better archiving.

You do not have to fake three directories with slashes (“/”) doing that.
When I want to retain the date I use either one of these two URL structures:

example.com/20170623
or
example.com/2017-06-23

Also
example.com/2017.06.23
is possible.

WordPress will still allow you to access the years as in “example.com/2017”, months or days.

Now you still have to decide which URL or permalink design is the best for you.

The implementation of the desired URL structure is shown here at WordPress.org or here with some screen shots.

There are also some dirty tricks as I like to call them ;-)

For instance you can add any suffix after the URL. Instead of the good old and pointless “.html” or “.php”

You can add anything you want. In my case something like “.seo” could be useful:
example.com/wordpress-post-address-best-practices.seo

It might look a bit redundant though considering my current URL:
seo2.0.onreact.com/wordpress-post-address-best-practices.seo

Last updated: June 23rd, 2017.