WordPress Tip: Use an Optimal Permalink Structure

When it comes to search engine optimization, most everything is speculation and theories, but there are a few things that we know for sure.  One of the things that Matt Cutts, who works for Google’s search team, has confirmed is how to best optimize your blog’s permalink structure for Google’s search engine. 

In a statement he made at WordCamp 2007, Matt made two points that apply to permalink structure:

  1. In URLs, no spaces are worst, underscore are better, dashes or hyphens are best.
  2. Do not include the post date in your URL.

As you can see, for WordPress users, your best bet is to use /%postname%/ as your custom permalink structure.  This way the search engines can properly recognize your keywords and it avoids using the month/day/year or category in your post.   

If you already have an established blog and permalink structure, but want to make the switch, you can make the switch then use a 301 redirect to point to your older posts to avoid broken links.  For more information on how to switch your permalink structure within WordPress, you can check out my post titled How to: Update Your Post’s Permalink Structure in WordPress.

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  • 8 Reminders When Changing Your WordPress Theme

    One of the best and most appealing parts of using WordPress is the various WordPress themes and WordPress plugins available. The plugins are easy to add, and the themes allow users to switch their blog’s theme with the click of a button.

    If you have made a habit of regularly switching WordPress themes, you’ve probably noticed that there is a lot of stuff that needs to be done each time you make the switch. Here is a list of 8 reminders for you to follow each time you switch your WordPress theme:

    1. Transfer your metrics code – The most common thing people forget to do is transfer over their metrics scripts. These are usually found in the footer of your theme and can easily be transfered with a simple copy and paste.
    2. Transfer plugin calls – Remember all those plugins you installed that required calls to be placed in the theme? Those will each need to be transfered over to your new theme for your plugins to continue to function properly.
    3. Transfer sidebar stuff – If you are using widgets, this stuff will transfer over to new your widget-ready theme automatically. If you aren’t, you will need to transfer this stuff over manually.
    4. Verify your feeds work properly – Offering a valid feed to subscribers is crucial to a blogs success. You’ll want to make sure your feed is working properly, and if you use Feedburner, you will want to make sure your redirect is working properly.
    5. Update your advertising code – When you switch themes, you first need to transfer over your advertising code, then update the colors in the code to match your new theme.
    6. Test your theme for errors – Verify your menu is working properly, your tags, categories, and archives pages all work. You’ll also want to do a test search using the blog’s search engine.
    7. Test in all web browsers – You can either manually download and open your site in multiple web browsers (IE7, IE6, Firefox, and Opera), or try a service like Browsershots.
    8. Announce your theme change – Make a post that explains the change and ask readers to let you know if they encounter any problems. This way you can get feedback from people using a variety of browsers and resolutions.

    That covers everything I typically do when setting up or switching WordPress themes. Miss any? Sound off in the comments below!

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  • Tip: Schedule Your Posts Ahead of Time

    Have you ever seen a blogger mention how important it is to schedule posts ahead? It is generally a good idea to have a few posts set aside for a rainy day, or scheduled ahead in case something comes up.  If you are a WordPress user, you might not know that you have the ability to schedule posts ahead.  It is actually quite easy!  In addition to scheduling posts ahead, you can use old dates if you want your post to be dated sometime in the past.

    Here is how to schedule your WordPress posts to be published at a different time and/or date:

    1. Post TimestampWrite your post.
    2. Go to where it says Post Timestamp on the right side of your Write panel and adjust the time/date to reflect when you would like your post to be published. You will want to verify that your blog’s time is set up correctly to ensure the post appears when you want it to.
    3. Publish the post.
    4. The post will now appear in the Manage posts tab, but will not show on your site until the designated date/time. If you date it into the past, it will post right away and show the designated date/time.

    This is a useful way to keep a few posts saved for a rainy day or to keep content showing up if an illness puts you out of commission for awhile. You can also experiment with posting times to see what works best for you and your readers. For example, I’ve found publishing posts early in the morning seems to help Google AdSense payouts per click. It also allows readers overseas to see my stuff during their evening hours, before they go to bed.

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  • WordPress Keyboard Shortcuts to Improve Productivity

    If you use the WordPress rich text editor to write your posts, there are a few shortcuts that you may not be familiar with. Here is a useful list of shortcuts that you can use to make writing and formating posts a little easier:

    Bold: Alt+SHIFT+B
    Italics: Alt+SHIFT+I
    Link: Alt+SHIFT+A
    Blockquote: Alt+SHIFT+Q
    Code: Alt+SHIFT+C
    Read More: Alt+SHIFT+T
    Unordered List (ul): Alt+SHIFT+U
    Ordered List (ol): Alt+SHIFT+O
    List Item (li): Alt+SHIFT+L

    This can often save you the time it takes to switch back and forth between the visual tab and the code tabs. Enjoy!

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  • How To: Limit How Many Archive Months WordPress Displays

    There has been much debate over the value of displaying your archives on your WordPress blog. Some people are all for it, while others feel that you should move any archives to their own page. No matter which camp you are in, I think both can agree that if you do display your archives, you do not need to display an overabundance of them.

    By default, most WordPress themes come with some standard code to display your blog’s archives by month and with no limit to the number of archives to display. Typically the code will look something like this:

    <h2>Archives</h2>
    <ul>
    <?php wp_get_archives('type=monthly'); ?>
    </ul>

    This will be fine for the first 6 months are so, but once your blog gets a little more established, you’ll probably notice that the number of months displayed are never ending. This can quickly become an eyesore for your blog and people generally won’t want to look at archives more than 6 months old. In order to set a rotating limit of months displayed on your blog, you simply need to make a small change to the above code to add a limit:

    <h2>Archives</h2>
    <ul>
    <?php wp_get_archives('type=monthly&limit=6'); ?>
    </ul>

    If you want to display more or fewer months, just change the 6 accordingly. Its really that easy!

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