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Many SEO Experts Give Wrong Advice Regarding WordPress Permalinks

Posted Wednesday, June 10, 2009 by

Update 1/4/2011: The problems described in this article regarding WordPress functionality breaking due to permalink structures have been fixed in version 3.0 and higher. Now the permalink structure suggested by the people mentioned in this article is the best solution for SEO optimized URL’s. However the WordPress Codex, the official WordPress documentation, still suggests that you should start your permalink structure with a number for performance reasons. In most WordPress sites, the performance hit caused using the permalink structure suggested by the SEO experts below would not be large enough to out-weigh the SEO benefits.

Let us start by giving a nice big thanks to experts in the SEO community. It’s likely because of them that there are literally thousands, possibly millions, of WordPress installations that setup with less than optimal settings. Many unsuspecting and uneducated users look to this group of experts for ideas and techniques to improve their search engine rankings and to gather more website traffic. Little do these users know that even some of the most popular people in this group of experts are handing out bad advice regarding how to setup WordPress systems.

Bad WordPress Permalinks Advice
Most of the SEO experts on the net recommend that users setup their WordPress permalinks in a very specific way. Every article on the net I have seen written by an SEO expert regarding WordPress permalinks suggests that users either use “/%postname%” or “/%category%/%postname%” for their permalink structure. This is a bad idea for many reasons, which I will cover below, yet the SEO experts continue to promote it.

In fact I was at SearchFest, a Portland SEO & search marketing conference, in March and I watched an SEO expert use this as his suggested permalinks structure to an entire room of people during a WordPress SEO session. Now I just feel bad for anyone who actually wrote down or took that advice. There are much better ways of setting up your permalink structures.

Why Are Those Permalinks Structures Bad?
Well to sum it up very simply it comes down to two things. Speed and Reliability. Thinking from the blog readers points of view these have to be the two of the three most important items that your blog can give them. The third of course being content, but that’s not what we are here to talk about today.

Let’s start off with reliability and how these permalink structures affect that. Both of these permalink structures have the first variable in the structure as a text based keyword. The variables I am talking about of course are %category% and %postname%. Unfortunately by using a text based variable you can cause WordPress to get confused when the system goes to process the request from your users. The reason for this is that there are just too many possible items it can match.

When we look at a example URL of “/blah-blah-blah/”, WordPress can run into problems when trying to match items to the request. Does it match a category, a page name or a post name? All of these text based variables use the same pattern matching so the system would have to run multiple database queries to figure out what the user is looking for. That’s not to mention the fact that the system also has to parse that request for attachments, tags, author pages and feeds which all use text based keywords as well.

Even then the system could get confused if you have a page/sub page combination that matches the slug of a category/post combination. Which one should the system load? These combinations of random keywords could easily cause WordPress to load the wrong page or post for a user which in turn makes your site less reliable in the user’s eyes.

So now compound all of the above with the speed issues. The most obvious of speed issues is that WordPress has to run all of those database queries that I mentioned above.Those are not lightweight and fast queries. They take time and delay the loading of the page that the user is requesting. How many times have you left a site because it loaded too slowly?

Another speed issue is for the WordPress author themselves. When using a permalinks structure with a text keyword as the first variable you end up causing WordPress to generate internal redirects to try and fix the issues mentioned above. These redirects are stored in the wp_options table in the database and are generated when authors add and edit posts or pages in the system.

The system is semi smart and generates internal redirects for all the pages that are loaded into the system. A simple page with a couple of attachments, whether they are displayed or not, can easily generate 11 internal redirects in the database. This is because the system needs the redirects for the page, it’s attachments, the trackback URLs and feeds that go with it. To make matters worse the system has to have a line for the redirect as it would show up in the request, the permalink for the item, and a line for how WordPress is to understand that request. So now we can double the number of lines in the database for that one post to 22 lines.

So by using the permalinks structure with the first variable being a text based keyword the system now generates these redirects upon saving a post/page and causes delays for the author. In fact there have been reports where users with 200 or so pages, with random attachments, in their WordPress installations actually causing server time outs during the generation of these redirects. This causes them not to be able to post to their WordPress installations at all.

Continuing with the speed problems, lets not give up on those internal redirects. Those internal redirects also affect the users of the website and their page loading speeds. With every page request the system has to load all of those extra redirects and process them. That’s 22 extra lines of code per request that has to be processed before the page will load for the end user. Imagine if you had a simple site with 10 pages, that’s an extra 220 lines of code. That is of course is on top of the other 125 lines of code for internal redirects that WordPress needs by default with no pages.

I took a look at one of my customers blogs who has 24 pages and compared that to his internal redirect list. His redirect list had a total of 773 lines of code that needed to be processed for every request to his blog. As you can see that 22 lines of code is a lower end figure when compared to his total number of pages. On our blog we have 22 pages and do not use one of the permalink structures above. Our blog only has 140 lines of redirect code that has to be loaded and none of those reference any of our pages individually like our customer’s redirects did.

Be advised that none of this touches on what kind of damage your doing to your server. Since WordPress is written in PHP and MySQL, all of the requests and code are processed on the server side rather then the user’s end of the connection. By adding excess lines of code for redirects and increasing your number of database queries, you are also increasing the amount of work your WordPress hosting server is having to do. That also isn’t a good thing.

So What is the Solution?
The solution is to use a permalink structure that does not start with a text based variable. By doing this you will drastically reduce your risk of the problems listed above. Here is a list of variables you can use that are not text based:

  • %year% – The year of the post, four digits, for example 2004
  • %monthnum% – Month of the year, for example 05
  • %day% – Day of the month, for example 28
  • %hour% – Hour of the day, for example 15
  • %minute% – Minute of the hour, for example 43
  • %second% – Second of the minute, for example 33
  • %post_id% – The unique ID # of the post, for example 423

Now that doesn’t mean you can’t have text based variables in your permalink structures, you just need to make sure the first variable is not text based. On Weberz we use “/%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%” as our permalink structure.

Why Would The SEO Experts Recommend The Wrong Structure?
The reason SEO experts recommend the “/%postname%” or “/%category%/%postname%” structure is simple. It makes the URLs easy to remember and it introduces keywords into the URL string that should match the content of your post. Typically in SEO the shorter the URL the better as its easier for the users to remember. The reason some SEOs recommend adding %category% to it is because categories normally include common keywords in the name that match the contents of the posts in that category. Are these extra 2-3 keywords from %category% worth it? Not in my opinion.

A better question would be why aren’t SEO experts recommending the permalink structure of “/%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%”? A simple answer to that one would be because they think the URL might be too long or they are unaware of the issues I am writing about today. After all some of these problems were not introduced until WordPress 2.7 was released. Hopefully some of the SEO experts will read this article and change their recommendations to their customers.

Why Blame the SEO Experts For This?
SEO experts are the ones who always are trying to optimize their pages to get the best search rankings possible. They are likely the reason that these options even exist for the permalink structures. Always wanting to get a extra 2-3 keywords in the URL out of the %category% tag or wanting to shorten the URL to just “/%postname%”. It’s just insanity.

Of course there is always the fact that they are the only ones I see recommending this to people because of the optimization boost that it can give you. If it wasn’t for SEO, there would be no reason to use one of those permalink structures except to make things look pretty.

How Do I Know This is Real and Not Just Your Crazy Opinion?
That is a very good question. Unlike the SEO experts opinions, I happen to have the official WordPress documentation on my side. The WordPress Codex page for Permalinks specifically states the following:

For performance reasons, it is not a good idea to start your permalink structure with the category, tag, author, or postname fields. The reason is that these are text fields, and using them at the beginning of your permalink structure it takes more time for WordPress to distinguish your Post URLs from Page URLs (which always use the text “page slug” as the URL), and to compensate, WordPress stores a lot of extra information in its database (so much that sites with lots of Pages have experienced difficulties). So, it is best to start your permalink structure with a numeric field, such as the year or post ID.

Really who is going to argue with the official documentation? Just in case you still think I might be making it up, here is a link to a discussion on the WordPress Testers mailing list thread that discusses these very issues.

Now as of the time of this writing there is a patch for part of the problem listed above. A user has provided the WordPress developers a patch via the WordPress Trac site to make the generation of internal redirects faster when authors save a post or a page. While I believe this is great, it still doesn’t solve the issue of those redirects needing to be there in the first place. Even if you generate the redirects faster, you still have the problem of having to process them with every request from a user. Seems like a band aid over a much bigger problem.

So Who Are These SEO Experts Giving The Bad Advice?
Honestly the list is too long to name everyone. There are a few key people in the community that I am going to point out anyway. Now don’t get me wrong, all of these people are extremely good at what they do and I have a huge amount of respect for them. It’s just on this particular issue, they got it wrong at some point in the past.

  • Scott Hendison – Scott runs a internet marketing company called Search Commander and was the one who introduced me to WordPress. Scott also has a WordPress plugin called WordPress Core Tweaks that automatically cleans up your WordPress installation for you. Unfortunately Scott’s plugin sets your permalinks to “/%category%/%postname%” which we now know is less then optimal.
  • Aaron Wall – Aaron is the founder of SEO Book – SEO Training Made Easy. SEO Book provides a number of good articles to readers about search engines and the SEO community as well as sells an ebook written by Aaron. Aaron mentioned in this comment under a blog Q&A session that he likes permalinks that are “/name-of-post” or “/2007/09/name-of-post”. At least one of them was a good format right?
  • Joost de Valk – Joost runs Yoast.com a website dedicated to tweaking websites for better SEO. Joost is particularly popular among the SEO community for having great WordPress SEO advice and some of the best WordPress plugins available. In Joost’s WordPress SEO article under section 1.1 titled “Permalinks” he specifically states “I prefer to use either /post-name/ or /category/post-name/“.
  • Michael Gray – Michael runs Graywolf’s SEO Blog a widely popular blog covering search engine optimization and search marketing news. In this thread Michael not only shares with users that he uses “/%category%/%postname%/” for a permalink structure, but also helps users solve some related permalink problems in the comments.
  • Matt Cutts – Matt is head of the Google web spam team and runs a personal blog on mattcutts.com. Matt is not an SEO but he is a major figure in the SEO community. Matt recently posted the slideshow that he used at WorldCamp 2009 when discussing blogging and WordPress among other things. There was no video posted but on slide 25 Matt was obviously talking about URL structures and permalinks. Unfortunately the slide also shows users should use a permalink structure of “/%postname%/”.
  • Jordan Kasteler – Jordan runs Search & Social and also has a Utah SEO Blog setup where he posts copies of his conference presentations. Jordan was the presenter at SearchFest 2009 that informed an entire room of users on how to setup their WordPress installations incorrectly. Here is a copy of his slides.. Slide 10 is obviously my favorite!

To add to the list above of people who handed out the wrong advice to users, below is a list of SEO experts that are using the wrong permalink structure on their own blogs. Since I couldn’t find anywhere that the people below had handed out advice on what to use, I didn’t want to mix them with the wrong doers above.

  • Vanessa Fox – Vanessa runs Nine By Blue and previously worked for Google where she built Webmaster Tools. Unfortunately Vanessa setup a blog on Nine By Blue where she uses /%postname%/ as her permalinks structure. She even talks about changing the structure in this post.
  • Adam Audette – Adam runs Audette Media a strategic internet marketing firm. Audette Media was kind enough to put up a blog where the primary poster is Adam himself, unfortunately they used /%postname% as well.
  • Stephan Spencer – Stephan runs Net Concepts an SEO marketing and consulting firm. While I could find many places, including a WorldCamp 2009 presentation, where Stephan recommends users shorten their URL and create custom post slugs, I couldn’t find anywhere he actually recommended a permalink structure. With that in mind, the Net Concepts blog also seems to use /%postname% or a custom post slug for each entry which is also a text based variable.
  • Danny Sullivan – Danny is the founder of Search Engine Land which is one of the largest sites on the internet for covering search engine and search marketing news. Danny’s personal blog located at daggle.com is also a WordPress blog. Unfortunately Danny setup his permalinks structure to be /%postname%-%postid% which is also not a good way of doing things.

By now you are probably asking if anyone did get this correct, the answer is Yes! I was able to find two SEO experts that actually have their blogs setup correctly and didn’t appear to give advice to anyone on how to setup their permalinks. These two great individuals are:

  • Jeremy Schoemaker – Jeremy runs Shoemoney.com where he shares his experiences in online marketing. Jeremy uses a permalink structure of /%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%.
  • Neil Patel – Neil runs QuickSprout where he explains and discusses ideas and techniques for online marketing and social media. Neil is also using the permalink structure of /%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%. As a side note, Niel also provided the best SEO presentation I have ever seen at SearchFest 2009… If only there was a video of it.

Hopefully this article will enlighten WordPress users and the SEO community to find a new permalink structure to use and promote. While it’s certainly obvious from the points above that there are better permalink structures available, I have no doubt that some users will continue to use bad ones. From your point of view, is using one of these bad permalink structures worth it? Is the extra processing and potential load time issues worth getting a extra few keywords into the URL? Share your comments below and let us know!

37 Comments for Many SEO Experts Give Wrong Advice Regarding WordPress Permalinks

  1. Justin Albrecht says:

    Very informative article. I appreciate the way you pointed out the problem you found in a respectful manner. Rather then trying to bash people you provided helpful information that allows everybody to correct this issue, if they so choose.

    Keep them coming!

  2. Scott Hendison says:

    Okay, point well taken – looks like you’re correct! ;) Thanks for bringing this to my attention Rob – nice job!

  3. Robert Rolfe says:

    Thanks Scott!

    I also saw a twitter post where you mentioned that you would be updating your WordPress Core Tweaks plugin with a better permalink structure. It’s great to see some of you guys taken action to get these things fixed!

  4. Melanie Nathan says:

    Thanks for the informative post. Not sure how everyone is gonna like being publicly called out lol buuuut at least some of us are doing it right ;)

  5. Charlie Stanley says:

    Well said Rob. Very informative and educational. I am glad I saw this before converting my entire site to WrodPress rather than after.

    Thanks!

  6. Joost de Valk says:

    Though technically you’re probably correct, how much of an issue is this REALLY? When I can serve out pages on yoast.com with about 0.2 seconds of database time, how much do you think I care about this? :)

    And while you say that it’s not the best solution, it DOES come with the best way of creating rememberable URL’s, and URL’s that look good in the SERPs, which drives more traffic, and THAT’s what I care about. I can always throw more hardware at it, that’s easier than getting people to remember http://yoast.com/2134/top-wordpress-plugins/ or something like that…

  7. Robert Rolfe says:

    Joost,

    How big of a problem is it? Well It’s big enough that I ran into issue on my small blog here. I had some issues with WordPress redirecting my pagination URL’s of /page/2 to a posts permalink when the system got confused. So for me personally it was a pretty big issue.

    As for the easy to remember URL’s.. You have a excellent point. For people to remember the URL’s the shorter and the least amount of numbers the better. The question I have though is how many people actually remember URL’s these days rather then just remembering the domain?

    I have probably lost days of my life reading good information on your site and I couldn’t tell you the direct link to one of those URL’s. What I can tell you though is if i go to http://www.yoast.com I can probably find them again.

  8. Joost de Valk says:

    The system isn’t bullet proof, but it’s being worked on, it should detect collissions like that when a post is made, and prevent them automatically, however, very few people actually have that issue.

    I still think that performance is something that we should handle within WP, and not go for sub par solutions just because WP isn’t able to handle it. WP is the best optimized system out there, and I’ll fight till my last day to keep it like that :)

  9. Scott Hendison says:

    I do agree with Joost, about how big is this problem, REALLY?” and I’ve been racking my brain trying to decide whether to switch to /%postid%/%postname%/ or not – I REALLY don’t like the look of the URL’s with the numbers though. Sigh…

    If i were running into 404 errors like you did Rob, I’d have no choice but to switch, but I’m just not sure.

    Also, when I first read this I thought numbers in the post might help sites get into Google News, too, but I see that’s no longer the case.

    I’m also keeping an eye on this thread hoping they change the milestone back to 2.8 – I won’t hold my breath though. ;(

  10. graywolf says:

    using years/month/date is silly, it makes your posts seem dated when they don’t have to.

    Using WP Cache you can minimize so many of the performance issues it absolutely justifies having the KWD in the URL. Additionally if you do it “right” you can use the post title, page title URL KWD’s to capture alternate singular plural versions.

    it’s your blog so do what you want but i’m going to keep on doing “wrong”

  11. Phillip Barnhart says:

    I have been doing links the “good” way without much thought, but I have to question the premise of the “code count” – for lines of code. I must be missing something here. I disabled my wp cache (supercache – which does have additional lines of code in my .htaccess) and looked at the MySQL queries that actually pulls a post and dumped them to a log. If I have the post name AND post ID in ANY ORDER the SQL query is:

    SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.post_name = ‘stupidest-web-domains’ AND wp_posts.ID = 41 AND wp_posts.post_type = ‘post’ ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC

    This means that /%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname% and /%category%/%postname% execute the exact same SQL query to get the page.

    If I have just the ID, I get

    SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 wp_posts.ID = 41 AND wp_posts.post_type = ‘post’ ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC

    Finally, if I do something like /%category%/%postname% I get:

    SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.post_name = ‘stupidest-web-domains’ AND wp_posts.post_type = ‘post’ ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC

    Note that the category name is stripped away. In my opinion, this single AND has minimal inpact – and the wp_options table is properly indexed. Unless we were talking about tens of thousands of rows in your db, the different between these permalink schemes is almost unmeasurable. Given the variations of cache plugins, widgets, etc I cannot imagine any benefit whatsoever performance-wise of one scheme over the other – with the obvious exception of creating schemes that results in two posts having identical URLs.

    So what am I missing?

  12. Phillip Barnhart says:

    PS = the “This means that /%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname% and /%category%/%postname% execute the exact same SQL query to get the page” was a conclusion which was placed incorrectly due to poor cut/paste skills. It obviously should have come at the end.

  13. Phillip Barnhart says:

    RE: Scott and the WP Ticket #8958 (Huge amount rewrite rules for page revisions after upgrade). The problem is caused by the combination of attachments of pages and the permalink structure

  14. Dale Stokdyk says:

    Great post! Good to know…but as someone just starting to blog, I agree with the points made by Joost and graywolf. It’s “%postname%” for me.

  15. Tad Chef says:

    I agree with graywolf: Dated posts are bad for the simple reason that people won’t click your posts unless the date is one from just a fews days ago.
    The post number first version is a good choice for several reasons I explained here:
    http://seo2.0.onreact.com/seo-20-basics-wordpress-url-design

    So your examples that “got it right” are not really to recommend.

  16. Affordable Web Design says:

    I see the problems with this post, but I’m going to have to agree with Matt and Michael here. And not because I got to hang with them at SMX. I’ve been using the date before the post name for all of the WordPress installs, but I do agree that is does “date” the post as Michael said. I personally use this for myself as an internal motivator to add fresh content. But I did it the “right” way because WordPress asked it of me. That’s the only reason.

  17. youfoundjake says:

    RE:”Even then the system could get confused if you have a page/sub page combination that matches the slug of a category/post combination. Which one should the system load?”

    Can’t that be resolved by using a trailing slash on a category during the configuration of WordPress?

    Once thing to take into account, the idea of wordpress permalinks is becoming a little outdated (externally) due to the rise in URL shortners being used in place of a 99 character permalink generated by WordPress.
    http://youfoundjake.com/ooltq

  18. Garry Egan says:

    /%post_id%/%postname%.html FTW

    Cutts’ likes the filename extension, this starts URL with POST ID (approved).

    I think Hendison should made his http://www.seoautomatic.com/plugins/wp-core-tweaks/ plugin reflect this new strategy. IMO. Still love the plugin, Scott! It goes in first on my WP installs every time.

  19. Andy Beard says:

    I like to think in big rocks and small rocks

    Whilst this is something that has been a small “known” factor for a while, it is only something I have mentioned in a few comments.

    There are many much larger false statements or outright terrible recommendations out there either on current or historical SEO posts.

    This mainly becomes a factor when URLs get cut short, or when you are looking at extreme server conditions. When 5 server clusters are struggling, a small gain is worthwhile.

    Also relying on a disk based caching solution doesn’t cut it if the cache is being invalidated frequently on multiple pages.

    Note I have up until very recently used dates, but then dates are useful in determining outdated SEO content ;)

    I now use:-
    /%post_id%/%postname%.html

    For those thinking of migrating you might find this thread useful
    http://www.deanlee.cn/wordpress/the-problem-about-permalinks-migration-plugin/#comment-69587

  20. Matt Cutts says:

    What Graywolf said. OMG, I just said “What Graywolf said”! :)

  21. David says:

    Meh, I’ll trust the real experts who do it “wrong”.

    @Weberz-Rob I think you’re creating a problem where there really isn’t one.

  22. Dan Thies says:

    When my server comes to a crashing halt over a slightly suboptimal permalink structure, I guess I’ll make the change, 301 everything, etc. or get a better server – /%postname% won the reader survey and that’s that.

    Looking forward to the “bash is better than tcsh” post next.

  23. Joe Hall says:

    This is a pretty ballsy attempt at link bait. Excellent work!

    I agree with you about load time, and some what agree about reliability. But, you are really stretching it to say that those listed above are giving “Wrong Advice”. Because from an SEO perspective its the absolutely right advice. From a developers perspective it is the wrong advice. Its just one of those things that varies depending on your need. If you are trying run WordPress MU on a small shared hosting package then yeah, you are going to minimize load time. But if its a regular basic blog, then i would go with the most semantic URL structure possible.

  24. DangerMouse says:

    The day you favour speed over usability you effectively fail in your web efforts.

    Whilst using %postname% may have caused you a lot of hassle in the past thats the fault of your chosen technology solution and your implementation.

    The reality is that your users don’t care, and shouldn’t have to care what technology tools you use to implement your blog they simply want the most user friendly solution – and that does not include random numbers in a URL.

    Bit of a shame that you tried to be deliberately inflamatory in an otherwise intersting post.

    DM

  25. Jeff Demers says:

    i’ll stick with joost – his wp advice has absolutely never steered me wrong. I went with category/post in my newly launched site very much better than dating it.

  26. Pablo Almeida says:

    Your theory is interesting, but that doesn’t means that it’s correct.

    If the problem is only due to the slow query of permalink mentioned in the documentation, there are solutions such as use of the cache to supply this “deficiency”. Another important thing to evaluate is the theme that you use on your blog.

    Avoid exposing yourself! Be careful, man! :)

  27. Scott Hendison says:

    I’ve thought hard about this, and I’m going to leave my WP Core Tweaks plugin as it sits. I usually won’t want dates in my urls for the same reasons sited in the comments here. That said, in our next release we’ll append the recommendation to mention this choice.

    PS – my favorite comments above are these two -

    @David – “Rob I think you’re creating a problem where there really isn’t one.”

    @joehall – “This is a pretty ballsy attempt at link bait. Excellent work!”

    Well done Rob ;)

  28. Sourav Sharma says:

    I like this idea of using this /%post_id%/%postname%.html

    makes lot of sense….nice tips from everyone..

  29. Daniel Mcskelly says:

    Ooh, nice attack hook ;)

    Have you benchmarked your theory at all? Well, I call it a theory, I’m sure you’re correct…but unless it has significant impact it’s a bit rich to call what almost everyone else accepts as best practise wrong.

    It’s a bit like saying you should always use meta-keywords because some zillion year old search engine with 0.1% market share still uses them. Technically correct, perhaps, but not anything people are going to care about in the real world.

  30. Scott Clark says:

    I’ve always used the date based posting structure, mainly because the stuff I put in my blog *is* dated and *will* be out of date someday. I maintain an article tree in my static pages for the evergreen stuff. If something is in a post that belongs in a page, I’ll move it and 301 the post.

  31. Shoemoney says:

    Thx for the kind words. I never really gave SEO a second though…

    I am not a SEO ;)

  32. Andy Langton says:

    Many of the commenter above get it.

    To advocate a user-unfriendly solution for technology reasons says more about the technology you use than anything else.

    Calling out a section of the online community is an obvious ploy to attract attention.

    Put your URLs full of numbers in front of users, and see whether they prefer a URL that *tells them what they are going to find at the destination*. Date might tell them a little, but that’s like judging a book based entirely on when it was published.

  33. Brian says:

    I think the title of your article is a bit misleading. SEOs gave valid advice about search engine optimization. Your comments are about WordPress/LAMP optimization. Seems to me as a blog publisher you’ll want to prioritize your readers’ convenience first, then SEO, and your server last of all. Search engines reward sites that have queried keywords as close to the beginning of the URL as possible. Better to have a slow, popular blog than a fast, invisible one, right?

    Plus, couldn’t a plugin like WP-Cache help by converting dynamic pages to static HTML once per hour (or day) and pushing those to web agents? I’m pretty sure the problem you’re talking about was addressed years ago by static cacheing plugins.

  34. Lisa says:

    I would say it’s a bit harsh to qualify the SEO’s advice as “wrong”. Wrong or right often depends on the point of view. Wrong from an SEO point of view? Wrong from a usability point of view? Wrong from a php developers point of view? In this case it seems to be 2:1 for seo/usability in contrast to technical difficulties. And even if one decides that having only keywords in the URL for technical reasons, there are still other options, for example simply the numerical ID of the post. The date might look nicer but in reality it does not give the user so much important information, and it becomes completely irrelevant if a post is not news-related but is a great piece of information that is still valid after some time.

  35. Mike says:

    After reading what everyone had to say from both sides I am going to stick with /%postname%.html. Thanks for the information from both sides.

  36. Andy Beard says:

    Mike that URL structure is potentially better than what I suggested, though I haven’t tested it or gone through the code.

    With the .html on the end of the URL, it can’t be a category, tag or page, thus it has to be a post.

    I came up with testing the .html in my structure based on the suggestion that you can also use /post/%category%/%postname% to avoid verbose queries, plus I was using it anyway after migrating from blogspot and it just made things more natural.

  37. Shambhavi says:

    If you do not have the date in post permalinks, Google grabs the date from the post metadata and puts it at the beginning of the description/ excerpt. This makes the date even more prominent for the searcher.

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