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What They Are & How to Structure Them for Max SEO Value

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What They Are & How to Structure Them for Max SEO Value

What comes to mind when you think of SEO?

“Permalink” probably isn’t the first or second thing, maybe not even the 10th thing.

The truth is, permalinks and SEO have a lot more in common than you may realize, and — when done correctly — can play an important role in improving your website’s ranking. Luckily, they are also simple to master.

Let’s get into how permalinks work, how to create them, and set them on WordPress.

Let’s break down this post’s permalink.

Permalink structure example

You first have your domain (and subdomain in some cases) which is where your website lives. It’s followed by the path, which indicates the location of the page. In this example, the article is located under the “Marketing” category.

The last part of your URL is the slug — an essential part of your permalink and vital for SEO because it tells search engines how to index your site.

Each component creates a permanent link leading to a specific page on your website that is unlikely to change, hence the name “permanent.”

When you don’t customize your URLs using permalinks, you get a randomized ID. The problem is that this isn’t attractive to site visitors and isn’t optimized for search engines.

Let’s say you’re blogging about sponsored tweets and their value. Would you rather have the URL look like this:

yourdomain.com/sponsored-tweets-guide

Or like this:

yourdomain.com/post-id?=5726fjwenfkd

Probably the first one, right?

Great slugs should include the keywords targeted in the post. Take our example above: “sponsored-tweets-guide.”

From this permalink, the reader (and Google) know the page is a guide to sponsored tweets and targets the keyword “sponsored tweets.” This makes it easier for readers to find and share your content.

In addition, using keywords with high monthly search volume (MSV) in your slug can help you increase your ranking.

That’s why when using a content management system (CMS) like CMS Hub or WordPress, you want to think about your permalink structure early on in your web development process.

What’s the difference between a permalink and a URL?

A URL is a web address that directs to a page or file. It can include a domain name only, or also a path, slug, and other information depending on the page you are accessing.

On the other hand, a permalink refers to a specific URL structure — a tool made popular by bloggers for sharing and SEO purposes. While every permalink is a URL, not every URL is a permalink.

The Best Permalink Structures

With several permalink structures to choose from, think about your content and your audience to determine what format will work best.

For instance, a news site can greatly benefit from having a slug that includes a date and title. This lets readers know quickly by scanning what the post is about and when it was written.

On the flip side, if you manage a blog that prioritizes evergreen content and has pages that get constantly updated, you’ll likely want to avoid having any dates in your titles.

That can signal to readers that your content is old and therefore, irrelevant. Instead, have a simple slug that only includes your article title.

It’s all about using a structure that will benefit you (and your users) in the long run. Once you decide on a permalink structure, you can set it up in your CMS.

How to Make a Permalink

To make a permalink, all you need is:

  • Your domain name
  • Your slug
  • Your path (if you have several topic categories and want to organize your content)

Then, there are a few best practices to keep in mind when deciding on your permalink structure:

  • Keep it short – Avoid articles like “the,” “a,” “an” and create a slug that’s a shorter version of your title. E.g.: If your article is titled, “How to Create an Instagram Story,” your slug can simply be /Instagram-story.
  • Include your main keywords – Optimize your slug by including your keywords. Make sure the keyword you use directly relates to the content on the page.

Now, in terms of where you go to create your permalink, that’s typically on your CMS or Website Builder — such as WordPress, Wix, HubSpot CMS Hub, and Drupal. The ideal time to do this is shortly after developing your site but before any posts go live. However, you can also do this at any point.

If you decide to change old URLs to reflect your new structure, be sure to update all backlinks or set up redirects for those pages.

So, you’re probably wondering how to optimize a permalink for WordPress. We’ll cover that next.

Using Permalinks with WordPress

When you create a post in WordPress, the permalink will not be optimized unless you have already set the structure. Otherwise, it will look like a random ID.

You can find the permalink on the page post while you’re editing, as seen in the example below.Permalink in WordPress blog post editing

Changing permalinks is a fairly simple process, and you won’t need to install plugins to do so. You can select from a few structures or customize your own.

More on this in the next section.

1. Open “Settings” and click on ‘Permalinks.”

How to change permalink structure on WordPress

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The first step in structuring your permalink is to open the “Settings” section of your WordPress dashboard. This should bring you to a list of options with various subheadings.

Once you click on this option, you’ll be taken to a screen with a variety of options to choose from. Depending on your preference of how you want your post to be archived and searched, you can pick the one that most aligns with your goal.

2. Choose a permalink structure option.

WordPress permalink settings

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Here are the different choices you’ll have and what they mean:

  • Default — Avoid this default option if you’re looking for maximum SEO value. It’s the post identification number, with no other information.
  • Day and name — This option sets up the slug to be the day the post went live and the name of your post. A good reason to use this is if you have multiple posts of the same name but want the differentiator to be the date it was posted.
  • Month and name — The same as the previous option, this time with the month being displayed. This is a great option if you have a monthly column, such as a “Favorites” or “Best Of.”
  • Numeric — Numeric is another choice that’s safe to ignore, as this structure is all numbers and provides little SEO value. If you’re archiving posts numerically, as a way to look back and see previous posts, numeric is the choice for you.
  • Post name — Choosing this route is an okay method for SEO, but not the best, as Google likes to focus strictly on keywords when ranking posts.

Learn more about that “custom structure” option next.

3. Consider creating a custom permalink structure.

If you’re not too excited about the structures WordPress offers, you can create your own permalink structure in minutes.

You’ll create a formula for your permalink structure, and every time a post goes live, it will follow that formula.

For example, let’s say you have a lifestyle blog and a travel category (i.e., path) under which you post about your latest vacations.

If you wanted to set the structure to be the category followed by the year and post name, here’s what you would put in the box:

/%category%/%year%postname%/

Permalink custom structure settings in WordPress

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A backslash separates each custom structure, and each tag starts with the percent sign.

You can find all of the structure tag options available to you on WordPress here.

Change a Permalink Without Hurting SEO

If you decide to change a permalink, it’s important to do so with care. This is because it will affect both the internal and external links to the page.

Make sure to set up a 301 redirect. This notifies your visitors and Google that your page has a new location. 

Google will keep track of both the redirect source (the old permalink) and the new redirect target (the new permalink) — and will eventually update the new permalink in search results.

Without a 301 redirect, your website will have broken permalinks and missing URLs — which may create a negative user experience. Search engines, like Google, will also lower your organic search ranking to prevent sending visitors to broken pages.

When creating permalinks, the main thing to keep in mind is focusing on SEO (i.e., keywords) and user experience. They’re the virtual key (pun intended) to making sure your content is found by the people you want to reach.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October of 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To
  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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