This is the second in my series of making your blog search engine friendly.
One important aspect that is often overlooked by newbie (or even veteran) bloggers is the structure of their permalinks. Most often go with the default version i.e. domain.com/?p=123 where 123 is your post ID. Those who change their permalink structure go with the form – domain.com/year/month/day. But after seeing the URL structures of other top SEO-aware bloggers, I have noticed the tendency to modifying your URLs to be as short as possible. My blog URLs are now modified to display only the domain name i.e. ipatrix.com followed by the post slug title i.e. domain.com/post-name. I have chosen to remove other variables like year, month, or day references or even directory structure like category or archives. Remember, you should try to specify your post slugs whenever you can.
The best way to do this is in your Dashboard > Options > Permalinks. Change the default to custom and enter “/%postname%/” and click on ‘Update Permalink Structure’. Make sure your .htaccess file located in the root directory is writeable. However, if you have been using your current permalink structure for quite some time, Google may have indexed your blog using that structure so if you change it, (search engine) visitors may get a 404 Page Not Found error.
This can be easily fixed by using the Permalink Redirect plugin. After activation, enter your old permalink structure in its options page. This will issue a 301 redirect to your current page. In plain English, visitors clicking on the old URL structure will now be redirected to the new one. This will also transfer the Google juice of your old URL to your new one.
Update: Note that the permalink structure that I use is not necessarily SEO-friendly as compared to other that has categories and dates in them, as pointed out by Venu and Chetan in the comments. But I recommend at least changing them from the default ID structure.
Next, I’ll be writing on the importance of robots.txt file and a sitemap for your blog. Stay tuned.