Today’s (kinda) super simple yet super effective tip is to make sure the permalink structure for your blog posts is set to “post name.”
This setting will improve your performance in the search engines, which is something we could all use, right?
Have no idea what a “permalink” is? Each post you make on your blog has a permanent link that it is connected to. This link appears in your address bar when you are viewing the post.
Here’s an example of the permalink for my recent post:
Until recently, my permalinks included the date of my post, and looked like this:
(This is my friend Lorii’s blog, she gives great advice if you’re looking for love!) And it used to be, in older WordPress versions, you wanted the date before the post name for SEO purposes. Not so anymore.
Now, the SEO-friendly permalink includes only the post name. Two steps will correct your dilema if you have any additional information in your current permalinks. The first step is easy. In the dashboard of your blog, on the left-hand side, click on “Settings” -> “Permalinks.” You will see this screen:
Make sure you have the button clicked that says “Post name,” as you see above. Then click on “save changes” just below that button.
Simple, yes? It’s step two of the process that made me procrastinate on making this change until just the other day.
The problem you are creating when you change the permalink structure is this. The change doesn’t just effect your posts from this day forward. It effects all of your posts. Which means when someone clicks a link that has your date included in it, they will get an error. Because you have a new date-free link.
So — eek — by changing your permalink structure, you’ve broken all of your links. Which doesn’t help your SEO at all, obviously. Fortunately, I just stumbled upon an easy fix for this. It comes courtesy of Joost de Valk at Yoast.com. His article on this fix is well worth reading. Besides, you’ll have to go there to complete step two anyway.
Once you get to Yoast.com, and you should land on “How to Change Your WordPress Permalink Structure,” scroll down to the bottom left-hand side of the article and click the blue button that says “Generate Redirects.” That will bring up this box for you to fill out:
Fill out the box, click the “Generate Redirect” button, and it will create a line of redirect text for you. Copy that text.
The final step is not hard, but it is possibly unfamiliar. You are going to put the redirect text into your .htaccess file in your blog.
To do this, you will need an FTP client. Have no idea what this is? No worries. Download FileZilla (for free) now. To access your blog, log in by completing the information at the top of the FileZilla window. It looks like this:
You get this login information from your web host provider (Hostgator is one of the most popular). You may not need the “Port,” just use whatever your web hosting company gives you. Click on “Quickconnect” and it will bring up your files.
Before you go any further, click on “Server” in the FileZilla menu bar and make sure you have “Force showing hidden files” checked:
Now, go to the right hand side of the FileZilla window and find your “public_html” file. Click on that, find the name of your blog, click on that, and find the .htaccess file. Here’s what the right-hand side of your FileZilla window will look like:
Right click on your .htaccess file and select “view/edit.” That will bring up a box that looks like this:
The green highlighted portion in the box is the redirect text I received from the Yoast redirect generator. Paste your text in the very top of the .htaccess file just like I did here. FileZilla will prompt you to upload the edited file. Do that, and you’re done!
Now, go back to an old link you’ve posted somewhere and click on it to confirm that you’ve done everything right and your links are in fact still working.
You can do this in 10 minutes, and it will increase the SEO value of your blog, which means more people will be able to find your good stuff. And the more that find you, the more chances you’ll have to build relationships that lead to clients, friends and partners.
I’ll walk you through this in a video next time. Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions.