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3.1 Your Site's Structure and URLs

Learn how to improve your site’s structure and URLs for better SEO in this lesson.

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3.1 Your Site's Structure and URLs

Hello, and welcome back to this Tuts Plus course on WordPress SEO without plugins. In this part of course, I'm gonna look at the URLs in your site, and how you can optimize those for SEO. So we've already talked about the domain name that you pick for your site. And mine is learn-wp.net, which is a URL that I hope will help people find a site where they're looking for learning. But let's take a look at the URLs for all the pages on the site. So here for example is the about page, and you can see that's learn-wp.net/about-me. Now you may find with your WordPress installation, that instead of getting text here and about me, you get some numbers, and question marks, and all sorts of horrible things. And that's because you need to configure your permalinks. So let me show you in the settings screens. We have here Settings and Permalinks, and there are a variety of options you can use for your permalinks. Permalinks are the long URLs for individual pages and posts in your site. So you can see there are a few versions of them here, all of which will get you to the correct post, but not all of which will be as SEO friendly. So the first one is plain, for SEO purposes, that's terrible, so you really don't want to use that. Because you can see here p=123, doesn't tell search engines or human beings anything about what's in that page, so don't use plain. Day and name can be useful, if it's really important to you that people find the most recent content on your site. And if your content will go out of date quickly, because a search engine will prioritize pages that have got more recent dates. But if you're producing content that you intend to be evergreen, and you want people to keep on finding over a long period of time, don't use their name, and also don't use month and name. There's also numeric which is just as bad as plain. So again, for SEO purposes, don't use numeric cuz you can see here we've got 123, which tells people nothing. The option I use is post name. So when setting the URL for an individual post, WordPress will automatically generate something called a slug from the name of that post. And this bit here sample post is the slug. And I'll show you one of those in action, and I'll also show you how you can edit it shortly. You can also if you want to have a custom structure. Now you can see because I've selected post name, WordPress has automatically inserted the time for post name in there. But there are different tags that you can use here. So you could use category if you wanted to, if your categories will help your SEO. Now because I've added that afterwards, it will look a bit odd, so let's delete those and do post name category. So, that's one option for a custom structure. You can also change the way that your category base and tag based is organised. So.instead of category, I might have topics, which is what I'm calling topics within my site. And for tag base, you could have WordPress if you wanted to. And that might help your SEO because you've got WordPress in the URLs for all of your tag pages. Now, I would error away from that because it's a little bit spammy and doesn't really reflect what's going on in your site. So let's save the changes there, and then I'll go back to the site, and I'm gonna open up a post. So I've opened up this site, this post called WordPress Site Blueprints. And you can see here it's added a category that, that post is within. And if we scroll down, you can see that's the category. So that could be helpful for your SEO, it makes your URLs a bit longer. But if applications is important, it could help SEO because it's within that URL. So let's try another one, we'll get started with WordPress code, essentials is up there. Now I would say a word like essentials isn't gonna help my SEO. And in fact, the category titles I've used for this site, basics, essentials, ultimate, and applications aren't really very SEO friendly. And so I could rethink those, and call them something like WordPress users, WordPress developers, or something like that advanced WordPress, for example. And then those would be much more SEO friendly. So let's take a look at how we edit the posts to change this bit here, Get Started with WordPress Code to make that more SEO friendly. So you can see now that when we go into editing, we've got this nasty slug up here, but you don't need to worry about that because that's only what you have as the editor of the post will see. Your users of your site won't see that, they'll see that nice, friendly slug that's here, Get Started with WordPress Code. Now that slug was automatically generated by WordPress when I created this post, if I wanted to, I could change it. So I could add developers in there and I could add PHP. Now at the moment, this slug is a bit long and very long slugs aren't always helpful for your SEO. There is a limit how long a title and a slug should be for good SEO. So let's edit this to make it a bit smaller, I'm gonna change get started with to learn WordPress PHP code. So that would help me if somebody was searching for developers to learn WordPress, PHP, and code. So I'll update that, and then I'll view the post. So now we can see essentially, we've got developers learn WordPress PHP code. Now that's not very meaningful as a slug, but it does have some keywords that I might be optimizing that particular page for. Now another thing you can think about when you're identifying how to use URLs and slugs in your site is the structure of the pages in your site. So let me go to the pages in my sight. Now these are all on one level, they're all high level, but I might decide to have a page that's a sub page of another one. So let's put this one, Join my WordPress Academy and make that, A sub page of About Me. So I update that and then if I edit the post, you can see that this slug has become learn-wp.net/about-me/academy. So if I view that page, you've got a longer slug there. So again, it's about balance. Sometimes you might want to edit the slug of a page that's a sub page of another page, if that makes sense. So if this part of the slug, and this is the only bit you can edit was too similar to the slug for the parent page, you could edit it. I don't need to, and I'm gonna undo what I did with the parent page. So I'm gonna, Give it no parent at all, and then update it again, and you'll see that the slug will change to learn-wp.net/academy. So I've got a much shorter URL. I would recommend finding short, tight URLs that include the keywords that you're optimizing for and also that aren't just stuffed full of keywords are descriptive. So that's how you edit the URLs and the slugs in your site to optimize SEO. In the next part of the course, we'll take a look at the content and how you can optimize that for better search engine optimization. See you next time and thanks for watching.

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