The permalink or URL, in my opinion, happens to be a very important aspect of SEO. It’s what connects you to your blog post or website. It’s like the main indexer of all your content. That’s why we use it when informing Google of new content using their URL inspection tool. And because no two URLs can be alike, it’s unique for every page on your website or blog. We even use it in our sitemaps as a directory of our website.
The permalink is also found in Google Search along with your SEO title and meta description. All though, not completely visible to the user when viewing on the search engines. So, we can’t use it as a way to entice users to click-through. But, important because you want to keep it short and easy to remember so that visitors can copy it and later link to your content.
The URL structure is very important not only for Google but for your users or visitors too. You’ll want to make sure you pay attention to how your website or blog structures your permalinks. And make any necessary changes to make them SEO and user-friendly.
Date in Permalink
The permalink structure needs to be clean and not cluttered. For example, don’t include dates in your blog post’s permalink this will make it difficult for visitors to remember and lengthen your URL. Plus it dates your webpage something you don’t want to do is age a blog post. Visitors want fresh content not outdated.
See this example with date…
A better example of this would be: https://www.visualcinnamon.com/designing-google-cats-and-dogs/ this would be a much better choice than having the date in the URL structure.
URL File Extension
You’ll also notice that this permalink ends with “.html” another piece of the URL that just adds clutter and something that can be removed. As the user is not going to remember whether it’s “.html”, “.htm”, “.php”, or “.asp” for example. So clean it up and remove this from its structure.
Cleaning Up Permalinks
If you’re using WordPress you can go to Settings > Permalinks to change your permalink structure. Just remember this very important step so you don’t lose any SEO value of your old permalink you’ll need to perform a 301 redirect to your new permalink. Otherwise, your rankings on the search engines will decrease. This way a user is sent to the new URL then from the one they originally requested. So, if a user was to visit this blog post: https://www.visualcinnamon.com/2019/04/designing-google-cats-and-dogs.html they will then be redirected to https://www.visualcinnamon.com/designing-google-cats-and-dogs/ without losing any SEO value in its link.
HTTP to HTTPS
Nowadays search engines are flagging websites as unsafe if they have not received an SSL certificate for their site. The below is not only a site marked as “not secure” but an example of a poorly structured URL.
A better version of this URL would be www.lyberty.com/encyc/articles/tech/dot-url-format-an-unofficial-guide/ instead of the following structure www.lyberty.com/encyc/articles/tech/dot_url_format_-_an_unofficial_guide.html which is ridiculous with all of its underscores. Another big no, no I should have mentioned above when structuring your permalink. Remove the underscores and stick with hyphenated text.
But, the reason the site has been marked as “not secure” is because it has not been transferred from HTTP to HTTPS. Here is a great article on how to transfer your site from HTTP to HTTPS to make it secure.
Once you’ve made this change you’ll need to make sure to change your WordPress URL in Settings > General for the fields WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL).
Adding “www” to the beginning of your permalink is a personal preference. Some are doing away with it to cut back on the length of the URL and because it’s a useless piece of information just like the file extension. But, it does no harm in having it as a lot of webmasters structure their URLs this way and users are used to seeing it with or without.
To set your preference you must add your site to Google Search Console. Here you can make the change to either add the “www” or remove it. Again, that’s all up to you and your preference.
Subdomains vs Subdirectories
This can be a hard decision to make when structuring your URL whether or not to create a subdomain or a subdirectory. A subdirectory would be like https://www.linderobrands.com/blog/ whereas a subdomain would be structured like https://blog.linderobrands.com/. Most of your URL structure will be created using a subdirectory which flows nicer and is easier to read than a subdomain. A subdomain is treated by the search engines as a truly unique website. Here is a good example of when to use subdomains and subdirectories.
Conclusion, as you can see there are many different aspects in a sites URL structure. It takes a lot of thought into developing the right permalink structure for your website or blog. And should be one of the first things you do before creating content online. So that you don’t need to create those 301 redirects later on.