a bad URL

Three solid reasons for having Pretty Permalinks

This is the third post in a series of articles which expands on Six things you absolutely have to have on your website.

The Six Pack Series

a bad URL
Flickr: FrankFram

Permalinks are the text which becomes the link to a page or article on your website.  Another word for a permalink is a URL or uniform resource locator.  Permalinks usually are or contain the title of the page for which they point to.

Most of your pages, especially your static pages such as About Us, will have links that identify the page as it is.  For example: www.yourdomain.com/about-us.html.

The problem comes when you publish an article or a blog post.  Usually your title is more than a couple of words long, and, depending on how your database-driven website platform settings are configured, may contain a long string of numbers, letters and special characters which is known as a query string.

So, what’s the big deal?

Well, there are three very good reasons you should have what is called pretty permalinks.  Pretty permalinks are links to your article or blog post which do not contain the query string but look more like your static page links.

1. Short, pretty permalinks are ideal for sharing

Long permalinks can create multiple problems including readers sharing them with their friends via email and other social media networks.  A long link becomes trouble when you are trying to copy and paste or simply trying to tweet or post the article on Facebook.  Cut off any of the link and it is broken.

Some designers have started using shorteners to making social media sharing easy.  Other designers have gone so far as to strategically create short links (or domains) that are very easy to remember.  Such an example is goo.gl. Another purpose of using a shortening strategy is to help track click-through rates.  Social media marketers are using these types of links to track how a marketing strategy performs using the shortened link in an ad, on a landing page or in an email campaign.

Some will debate the use of shortening your URL for SEO, but I advocate using it for social media sharing but leaving your regular URL, your permalink, with its structure of keywords.  The bottom line is keeping your permalinks from being extra long and containing letters, numbers and characters.

Regardless, if you keep your permalinks pretty, and shorter, it will be much, much easier for your loyal readers to share the latest article from your website.

2. Pretty Permalinks are best for SEO

Long permalinks notwithstanding, it seems that is best to have pretty permalinks with keywords included to have a good search engine optimization experience for your articles.  It makes sense though, doesn’t it?  Sure, Google and other search engines use robots to find sites, but humans write the algorithms to power the robots, and, it seems, pretty permalinks help articles be indexed well.

Further, there is evidence that people actually tend to click on links in the search results that use pretty permalinks.

3. Pretty permalinks are short and use less bandwidth

Experts are starting to believe that long URL’s can cause a greater use of bandwidth.  Bandwidth is the amount of data that is delivered from one point to another, generally taking place when a user surfs the web and pages are being loaded from the internet to his or her computer.   Configuring your permalinks to be pretty will cause the URL to be shorter.

Now what?

When designing your website, choose a platform which will generate permalinks that use keywords and less characters.  If you already have a website, you might look for ways to go back and optimize those permalinks.

Are you using permalinks on your website?  How do you make it easier for your readers to share your articles with their friends?