WordPress blogs by default use dynamic URL structure, in the form of http://mysite.com/?p=344. This is dynamic as the page is retrieved using the number parameter which changes for every page.
Using permalinks, the previous URL becomes something like http://mysite.com/cooking-tips-tricks.
Why use permalinks?
Besides being easier to remember and use, permalinks can have positive impact on your search engine rankings.
It is believed that Google ranks pages based on appearance of keywords in the URL, among other factors. You can see a hint confirming the theory in the actual search results page, as all keywords appearing in the URL will be highlighted as well.
Setting up Permalink structure
Permalinks are edited in Settings->Permalinks screen, and best results are made if you enable "Custom structure". Custom means you can define permalink structure by using one of many permalink tags. Most useful are %postname% (title of the post), %post_id% (id of the post) and %category% (post category, if in multiple categories first created category will be used).
Most basic usage is only having %postname% tag and as an example you can see urls on my site which are using this structure.
Recently I am more inclined to think that using %category%/%postname% may yield you better results if category names contain keywords you want to rank for.
Setting permalinks for Google News
If you want to list your site in Google News, one of the requirements is to have at least three digit identifier at the end of every URL.
This is easily accomplished using %postname%-%post_id% structure, which will append post ID to the end of url so it becomes http://mysite.com/cooking-tips-tricks-344. You only have to create at least 100 pages first in order to have three digits at the end :)
Since permalinks cost you nothing to set up, there is no reason not to use them. This should be the first step you do when you install a WordPress blog as changing permalinks at a later time requires more work (you will have all incoming links to your old urls).
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Posted in: SEO, WordPress
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