[wp-hackers] Permalink Structure - Performance vs. SEO

Eric Mann eric at eam.me
Tue Jun 14 15:01:54 UTC 2011

> 2)  "Good links come from humans, not computers" There is a minor flaw
> in use of links for popularity. Don't know a solution. But links
> should not be the "be all end all" of value. There are many extremely
> valuable websites that I use on a daily basis that I have never
> published a link to. I  might email the link. Or, PM the link. But I
> don't put the link on a webpage or in a blog. As search engines have
> gained popularity the need for posting mini-menus of links on a topic
> has diminished. Every time you mention to someone to "google it"
> rather than post a set of personal favorite links you are proving the
> point that individuals creating links of favorite content is on the
> wane. At the moment I suspect that if you actually measured the number
> of links being created we'd find a large percentage being created by
> computers in the form of text link spam bots or link-exchange
> scheme-bots. My own rant. :)

People "Google" content when they don't have a usable reference.  If you
want to really test the human-usability of your links, write them down on a
sticky note and ask someone to visit the page.  If your link is along the
lines of http://mysite.com/234192384/my-cool-post then it's easy enough to
write down and easy enough to type, but can break.  The "my-cool-post" slug
stands out, but if numbers are accidentally transposed in the id (234192384)
or someone reads a 6 rather than an 8, then they'll land on the wrong post.

A date-based system, though, is less prone to breaking.  If your URL is
along the lines of http://mysite.com/2011/06/my-cool-post you end up with
the following fallbacks:

   - If the slug is wrong, the user gets a list of all posts published in
   June of 2011
   - If the month is wrong (whether the slug is right or not), the user gets
   a list of all the posts published in whatever month they entered
   - If they leave off the month, the user gets a list of all 2011 posts

The advantage of this system is that it minimizes 404 errors.

The reality of the world, and this is hard for many of us who subscribe to a
hacker-related email list to remember, is that the majority of end users
won't be PMing, emailing, or tweeting the link.  A lot of people (and by "a
lot" I mean everyone I've ever met who isn't in a tech-centered career) will
pass on links by writing them down, printing them in a document, displaying
them on screen in a presentation, or delivering it verbally to someone else.
 If your link breaks down in any of these media, then whether or not it's
SEO-friendly doesn't really matter.

1) Please try to keep in mind (occasionally at least) that some of us
> WP as a CMS for content that is not time sensitive. And , in fact the
> inclusion of year/month is misleading or confusing. So date is not
> *always* a good thing to make prominent. In these cases post id would
> be a better fit.

Yes, this is a dilemma to be sure.  But if your content is truly evergreen
(the inclusion of a year/month is misleading), then should you really be
publishing it as a post?  Evergreen content is better suited to pages in the
WP system.  Pages still function like posts, but aren't included in the
standard loop on the homepage and have a URL that lacks a date/time stamp.
 If your article was written 3 years ago but is still relevant, make it a
page instead.

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