Permalinks are a great way to optimize your blog post URLs. If you read my article on WordPress Permalinks, you may be using the same permalink structure that I use, namely this one:
With this type of permalink structure, your post URLs will look like this:
This is an actual URL from this site. See that the %postname% is replaced with the name of the post, and the %category% is replaced with the name of the category. I know, its fairly obvious, but bear with me.
What if you used nested categories?
Suppose you have a category called “blue-widgets”, that you setup to be a sub-category of the “widgets” category?
Well the post URL would now look like:
See how WordPress includes the full category path to your post?
That’s great for SEO, especially if you create your categories carefully to make sure that categories are grouped into “silos”, where you have the main category at the top, and all of the highly related categories as sub-categories of that main one.
However, there is one thing that you need to be aware of.
WordPress sets up “category” pages, which all posts in that category are posted to. An example is the WordPress Tutorials category on this site. Click the WordPress Tutorials link in the top nav bar.
You are taken to this page where you can see the most recent posts in the category:
Look at the URL. Because this is a category page, the word “category” is used by default in the URL before the actual category name (“wordpresstutorials”).
Now there is a plugin you can use called “Top Level Categories” that will remove the “category” word from these “category page” URLs.
The above URL would then look like this:
Much better, right?
Well….. There are some limitations to this plugin, and one is that it wont work when your permalink structure is set to:
Why? I have no idea. But if you use the same permalink structure I do, this plugin is no use.
You do have another option. You can specify a word to be used instead of the word “category” in these category page URLs.
Login to your WordPress Dashboard, and click on the Settings –> Permalink menu.
(Click to enlarge).
There is a box where you can enter the Category base. If this is left empty, WordPress will use the word “category” when displaying category pages.
My advice here is to insert a word that covers your main niche. That way all of your category pages will have an extra keyword in them.
For example, it your site was one dogs, you could enter the word “dogs” (or maybe if your domain already had that word in it, you could enter “canine”, “mans-best-friend”, or something similar, but preferably a word or phrase that is searched for).
As with all things SEO, don’t overdo this optimization. If you cannot think of a word to use, simply leave it blank.