Should bloggers who want to get more search traffic but lack an easy option to modify their posts’ “title tags” (the title in website code) modify the permalinks for their posts ?
This is another post in my Blog SEO series. I’m summarizing the advice of pros referenced below, teaching myself about all this and sharing it with you, my fellow bloggers.
What is a Permalink? a Post Slug?
Permalink = post link, post hyperlink,or post URL. Example from this post: http://pegcorwin.com/2009/10/blog-post-titles-shall-i-change-the-permalink-blog-seo-series
Post Slug = the part of a post URL after the website URL and date. Example from this post: blog-post-titles-shall-i-change-the-permalink-blog-seo-series
When Might I Want to Modify the Permalink of my Blog Posts?
Thankfully, on WordPress.com and Blogger/Blogspot, your permalink is by default your post title, which presumably includes your keywords. On WordPress.org, you can determine how permalinks are formatted in Settings.
As you draft a blog post, you sometimes change the blog title. When you do, the permalink changes too. However, once you schedule your post or after you publish it, the permalink does not change if you edit the title.
BEFORE Publishing: Here are three reasons you might want to edit a permalink before you publish a post:
Ugly Links. The default WordPress.org setting for a post may look like this: http://www.homebizpal.com/?p=123. Not informative or memorable, and no keywords related to your blog post. Consider changing your settings if your blog is fairly new, but be aware that no past links to these posts will work. You will have to create referrals to new links. So assuming you are stuck with your ugly post descriptions, you can edit the permalink to include your keyword-rich title or a shortened version of it.
Keyword Focus. If your blog post title used your target keywords, you don’t need to modify the permalink. “But if title lacks a keyword focus, edit the permalink before you schedule or publish to add more keywords,” says SEO expert Tim Grice.
Shorter URL. If you want a short and snappy URL, you may want to cut off irrelevant text, not containing keywords, like “Part 1. ” With free URL shortners like tinyURL.com and Bit.ly, this may be less important than it used to be.
The general advise is do not edit a permalink after the post is published, or you will break any links you or others have made to the post.
Errors. Edit a permalink to correct errors after you have published the post WITH EXTREME CARE. Lorelle gives detailed advice on when and how here.
But before you try this, read about the dangers, spelled out below. In fact Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgram says, “Don’t play with slugs.” ["After they are published] I’d be negligent if I didn’t warn here that, while you should change your post title, changing the actual page slug is to be avoided.”
Does My Blogging Software Allow me to Modify Permalinks?
WordPress = Yes
WordPress.org (self-hosted install) on Permalinks
Wordpress.com (central blogging platform) on Permalinks Post Title and URL
Blogger.com Blogspot.com = Not easily, only in HTML.
Others = Any TypePad or MovableType users, let me know and I’ll add your info.
DANGERS when You Modify a Permalink
Duplicate permalinks. If another post on your blog has the same slug, i.e., “Twitter Top Tips,” the search engines may have indexing problems.
Broken links. Whenever you modify permalinks, you break any past links to your post, which you do NOT want to do. If you must edit a published permalink, you will have to create permalink redirects to the new URL.
Lorelle explains in Understanding the WordPress Post Title and Post Slug, if you care to read more.
Comments on Permalinks?
For what reason do you edit your permalinks? Why now share your experience in a comment?
Other Posts in the Blog SEO Series
SEO Your Blog with Keywords: Blog SEO Series
Blog Post Titles for More Search Traffic: Blog SEO Series
Modify Blog Post Title Tags For Increased Search Traffic: Blog SEO Series
Improve Meta Descriptions for More Search Traffic: Blog SEO Series