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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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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MARKETING

6 martech contract gotchas you need to be aware of

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6 martech contract gotchas you need to be aware of

Having worked at several organizations and dealt with many more vendors, I’ve seen my share of client-vendor relationships and their associated “gotchas.” 

Contracts are complex for a reason. That’s why martech practitioners are wise to lean on lawyers and buyers during the procurement process. They typically notice terms that could undoubtedly catch business stakeholders off guard.

Remember, all relationships end. It is important to look for thorny issues that can wreak havoc on future plans.

I’ve seen and heard of my share of contract gotchas. Here are some generalizations to look out for.

1. Data

So, you have a great data vendor. You use them to buy contacts and information as well as to enrich what data you’ve already got. 

When you decide to churn from the vendor, does your contract allow you to keep and use the data you’ve pulled into your CRM or other systems after the relationship ends? 

You had better check.

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2. Funds

There are many reasons why you would want to give funds in advance to a vendor. Perhaps it pays for search ads or allows your representatives to send gifts to prospective and current customers. 

When you change vendors, will they return unused funds? That may not be a big deal for small sums of money. 

Further, while annoying, processing fees aren’t unheard of. But what happens when a lot of cash is left in the system? 

You had better make sure that you can get that back.

3. Service-level agreements (SLAs)

Your business is important, and your projects are a big deal. Yet, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get a prompt response to a question or action when something wrong happens. 

That’s where SLAs come in. 

It’s how your vendor tells you they will respond to questions and issues. A higher price point typically will get a client a better SLA that requires the vendor to respond and act more quickly — and more of the time to boot (i.e., 24/7 service vs. standard business hours). 

Make sure that an SLA meets your expectations. 

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Further, remember that most of the time, you get what you pay for. So, if you want a better SLA, you may have to pay for it.


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4. Poaching

Clients and vendors alike are always looking for quality people to employ. Sometimes they find them on the other side of the client-vendor relationship. 

Are you OK with them poaching one of your team members? 

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If not, this should be discussed and put into writing during the contract negotiation phase, a renewal, or at any time if it is that important.

 I have dealt with organizations that are against anti-poaching clauses to the point that a requirement to have one is a dealbreaker. Sometimes senior leadership or board members are adamant about an individual’s freedom to work where they please — even if one of their organization’s employees departs to work for a customer or vendor. 

5. Freebies

It is not unheard of for vendors to offer their customers freebies. Perhaps they offer a smaller line item to help justify a price increase during a renewal. 

Maybe the company is developing a new product and offers it in its nascent/immature/young stage to customers as a deal sweetener or a way to collect feedback and develop champions for it. 

Will that freemium offer carry over during the next renewal? Your account executive or customer success manager may say it will and even spell that out in an email. 

Then, time goes by. People on both sides of the relationship change or forget details. Company policies change. That said, the wording in a contract or master service agreement won’t change. 

Make sure the terms of freebies or other good deals are put into legally sound writing.

Read next: 24 questions to ask ABM vendors before signing the contract

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6. Pricing factors

There are many ways vendors can price out their offerings. For instance, a data broker could charge by the contact engaged by a customer. But what exactly does that mean? 

If a customer buys a contact’s information, that makes sense as counting as one contact. 

What happens if the customer, later on, wants to enrich that contact with updated information? Does that count as a second contact credit used? 

Reasonable minds could justify the affirmative and negative to this question. So, evaluating a pricing factor or how it is measured upfront is vital to determine if that makes sense to your organization. 

Don’t let contract gotchas catch you off-guard 

The above are just a few examples of martech contract gotchas martech practitioners encounter. There is no universal way to address them. Each organization will want to address them differently. The key is to watch for them and work with your colleagues to determine what’s best in that specific situation. Just don’t get caught off-guard.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


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About The Author

Steve Petersen is a marketing technology manager at Zuora. He spent nearly 8.5 years at Western Governors University, holding many martech related roles with the last being marketing technology manager. Prior to WGU, he worked as a strategist at the Washington, DC digital shop The Brick Factory, where he worked closely with trade associations, non-profits, major brands, and advocacy campaigns. Petersen holds a Master of Information Management from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Brigham Young University. He’s also a Certified ScrumMaster. Petersen lives in the Salt Lake City, UT area.

Petersen represents his own views, not those of his current or former employers.

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