How to Get More Search Engine Traffic With One Simple Tweak

7 Essential WordPress Hacks: 1. Permalinks

One of the great things about blogs is how much the search engines love them. But is there a way to get even more love from Google by making just one small adjustment to your WordPress blog?

Search engines want a frequently updated web site with good information, and that also has a solid, navigable directory structure with meaningful URLs. Oh, and it’s also a huge bonus if your XHTML markup is both valid and semantically sound.

You can score outstanding code by applying the Cutline theme to your WordPress blog, and then you can learn how to create search-engine-friendly permalinks (page addresses) by watching this video!

Flash video: 6:45 in duration

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Episode links:

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  1. Permalinks are good but using structure can cause problems if a person accidentally names 2 posts the same. I recommend adding the post id to the end of it to eliminate this problem.

  2. @Dan
    that shouldn’t be a problem as the post-slug (which is actually what will become the URL) will have different name.

  3. Hi – That was a great tutorial
    I did not realise that was a facility available.
    I did axactly that on my Blog and the htaccess and works beautifully


    Anychance of more WordPress tutorials ?

    I know there is a lot more to learn on WordPress


  4. @jazzle

    You know what? I did not believe you so I tested it and you are right! WordPress will automatically append a number in the post slug to differentiate between the 2 posts.

    Thanks for the clarification!

  5. wow I impressed: you got your ranked 4 in google’s PR, and there is only one post there made recently with almost no content.

    (while has 0 PR…. )

  6. Should I make the change away from default permalinks on sites that are a year old and have have over 1000 posts? Does the .htaccess take care of any indexing problems with the SE’s or is there more work to do to make them happy if I make a change? WP’s forum suggests that there is no real reason to change.

  7. Joe,

    I’m not really sure why the folks over in the WP forums wouldn’t be touting the SEO benefits of “pretty permalinks,” but I will certainly step up to the plate here and say that you have every reason in the world to change.

    Personally, I think you should go out of your way to implement things that may provide you with a competitive edge, especially if that “thing” is something as simple as changing permalinks!

    Also, if you have that many articles (1000+), anything you can do to further your progress in the SERPs is a bonus.

  8. I tried it on my hp and there was nothing about an .htaccess update but it produced an error. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I was using an older (german) version of wp?
    After I tried it whith another version on my pc it didn’t do the whole error – but when I try to open a page directly, it shows the page name in the addressbar but not the page – else there is a small error (the other one affected my whole siite – frontend & backend error) – and there wasn’t this .htaccess update thing too. I tried to type it from the video but it didn’t had any effect.

    I think I’ll be able to fix it somehow but it would be nice to add somewhere how .. aehm .. not to do this .. so that others wont get the same problem.

  9. Joe, if you have that much content and a lot of incoming links, I wouldn’t change at this point. This is better to do when you are just starting a new blog. Otherwise you’ll actually hurt your SERP rankings.

  10. I made the changes to my permalink but when a user is searching something by Google and a certain page of mine comes up, it’s going to be linked to the old year/day/month format and when they click on it, it shows an error message on my site.

    How can I still make the change and then have all my links that people have been coming to for awhile through Google searches still send them to the correct page?

  11. WordPress has a really good SEO tuning right out of the box, but I guess there are simple tricks that can make it even more powerful.

    Good work.

  12. Does it work the same in 2.0.5? I didn’t get the error message or code to paste, but the hack seems to be working fine?

  13. If you have a .htaccess file already, and it’s writable on the server, WordPress will write the necessary code for you.

    The video assumes you don’t have an .htaccess file already, and/or it’s not writable from WP.

    Hope this helps.

  14. Hello,

    I am trying to get this hack to work and after 5 hours I am still stuck. I change the permalink structure, create the htaccess file and edit it and I get the follow error.


    You don’t have permission to access / on this server.

    Additionally, a 403 Forbidden error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

    I am using a mac, textmate to edit .htaccess and fetch to upload it but I cannot work out what is going on. I have also tried making my .htaccess file editable and I get the same error.

    Any help would be great.


  15. I’ve set up a whole bunch of blogs on 1and1 but haven’t needed the .htaccess there. It always worked great right off the bat. Is that because they may have some sort of global .htaccess already systemwide?

  16. MSN really likes it when content is changed daily. So I made up a random comment script (PHP), and added lots of comments and tips for my site. After doing that it made my site higher in its SE index.

  17. Guys – this is a great tip. I know it is going to be more work, but as a suggestion maybe you could also suggest the MAC version of tools such as the Notepad tool you recommended in this edition of the Tubetorial.

  18. Quoting Benny, I think this got lost in the post because I didn’t see an answer, and maybe there isn’t one but I have the same question. I’m wondering if there is an additional .htaccess trick that will accommodate these?

    I made the changes to my permalink but when a user is searching something by Google and a certain page of mine comes up, it’s going to be linked to the old year/day/month format and when they click on it, it shows an error message on my site.

    How can I still make the change and then have all my links that people have been coming to for awhile through Google searches still send them to the correct page?”

  19. Very good tutorial, but if you’re indexed well in G, it’ll kill your G index. Any tips how to prevent this?

  20. Thanks for the tutorial. I was just wondering .. Is there a difference (in terms of SEO) between the custom structure given in the video and the date and name based option in the ‘Permalinks’ menu?

    It seems exactly the same except that the date is listed before the post title. I’m currently using the date and name based option so any advice would be great.

    You guys really have a great website going on here. Keep up the good work!

  21. I followed your tutorial and my permalinks didn’t work. I’m an experienced web developer and I was sure to follow your instructions very carefully. However, when I went to click the posts I saw that it said there was no post by that name on the server.

    Any help?

  22. I use cutline, and I must say that it increases your traffic. I encountered some problems though, for instance, my category and archive page not working.

    Actually, on one of my blogs, I have a problem with pages.

  23. Amazing series. Keep up the good work. You guys need to upload this series to revver or so I can syndicate this content to my site!!!

  24. I followed your instructions to the letter. I was given no message telling me to change .htaccess, and when I try to navigate to my pages, I get a “404- file not found” page. Any help appreciated.

  25. Great series… thanks!

    I can’t seem to get the permalink change to work. I keep getting a “404-file not found” page. My Blog is new, so I would like to implement this now if possible, so any help would be mightily appreciated. Thanks!

  26. @Tom: Some newer versions of WP seem to have this problem. What I usually do is either close my browser and flush the cache or, if that doesn’t work, reset the permalinks back to the default, view any permalink page (in separate window or tab), and then once again change the permalinks to the way I want it. This always works, though if your cache isn’t flushed, it may not appear that way.

    You can try having a friend access one of your post pages and have them tell you what they see – before you go to this trouble.

  27. I followed the instructions in the video but in my version of WordPress (2.2.1) it doesn’t give me the .htaccess code and doesn’t even tell me to change it.

  28. Yeer: yeah, it’s unfortunate, but unless your server can handle url rewrites, you can’t do anything. Except change your host.

  29. Larry: To be honest, I have never seen WP generate that .htaccess code. I do not know what version of WP was used in the video but it’s probably pre- 1.5.2 version. Check out my newer WP permalinks tutorial on this site. As long as your server supports URL rewriting, it’ll work. WP will generate the .htaccess file itself, when possible.

    Give it a try and drop a comment either here or the other post.

  30. While search-engine-friendly permalinks are important I would say inbound links are king. I’ve read numerous articles on how to do on-site optimization, however I have seen little in the way on how to obtain quality inbound links.

  31. Question. If you’ve been using the date/title URL previously and many others have linked to your site, will changing the URL name to custom as presented cause any problems with the former links?


  32. I think the best wordpress hack is to stuck some post on the index more days then other…then just avoid duplicates..that’s it!!!!!

  33. this is cool, yeah I know about this already, yet it is great reminder since the default permalink from wordpress is really not SEO friendly

  34. Right on. Good for indexing and good for useability. I changed my permalink structure by selecting “post name” in the options then deleting the date stuff.

  35. Hi, that was a great tutorial and I am sure plenty of websites have been benefited using that tweak. I did exactly the same, placed /%postname%/ as custom field and then update the permalinks.

    I, however, did not get a .htaccess prompt. All I got was structure updated message. Then when I click to any post of my blog, it gives me error of post not found. Any suggestions about how to overcome that ?


  36. Vaibhav if you didn’t get the .htaccess prompt then most likely it was previously added, so you should be all set 😉

  37. Maybe I’ve downloaded a newer versio of WP since this video came out, but I don’t even have a permalinks tab under the options tab. Can anyone tell me what I need to do?

  38. Hi,
    I really am getting a great deal out of you tutorials. I have just installed Word Press and changed the permalink %postname% and I just got the message that it had been updated.

    I don’t remember creating a .htaccess file and I can’t see on there. Is this still fine?

  39. I personally use the yyyy/mm/dd/post.html permalinks structure and find that works well too. I wonder if /post/ will make a better difference

  40. Hi, I was watching your tutorial and I can not follow it because in the part of my dashboard, it does not appear words like you show in the tutorial. For example: “Settings” instead of “options” and also does not apear the word “permalink”. Please tell what can I do?

  41. If you have .htaccess file already on server, and it’s writable then you do same thing with URL rewrite tool..

  42. thanks for the post. I made the changes in custom without having to make the changes in the root directory. Must be updates in test version of wp.

  43. I share with all of you some tips for getting a lot of traffic to your blogs:

    Tip 1: Make a good content
    This point is very important

    Tip 2: Make a brand around your blog
    This point is very important because your visitors return to your blog in the future.

    Tip 3: Get high quality backlinks
    This point is very important because Google is a major search engine.

    Tip 4: Promote your site on social websites like facebook, myspace and news aggregators like Digg.

    Tip 5: Post frequently

    Tip 6: Be patient
    This is the most important tip because only with years of hard work you see a good results.

  44. if u r unable to find .htaccess or edit it.
    On windows :-
    enable your explorer to show hidden files
    on cpanel search for .htaccess.
    if u r unsure of how to edit it, simply change the permission of htaccess to 0777
    change the permalink structure on wordpress.
    now the update of .htaccess will happen automatically.
    after ur done dont 4get to change the permission back to default.

  45. yeah i also change my wordpress permalink in order to make my wordpress url SE friendly, so it will be easy for the spider to found my page, and also we should have some seo plugin,
    i found some on others web, but i already post it on my blog.

  46. wow I impressed: you got your ranked 4 in google’s PR, and there is only one post there made recently with almost no content.

  47. I created 2 similar blogs, one in Blogger, one in WordPress.
    After adding a lot of content to the Blogger one (much easier) – the WordPress is still ranked higher!

    Which means, WordPress does something to Google which Google themselves don’t know how to do… ?!#$


  48. Very nice tutoral…I will have to try and do some of those to get my blog or website more search engine traffic and page rank…thanks

  49. Permalinks are good but using structure can cause problems if a you accidentally name 2 posts the same. Other than this it is all good.

  50. Hi ,

    Nice tutorial , I also works on wordpress but enjoys watching and learning what other are doing.