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wordpress super-short url how-to

Being that more people are using mobile web these days, and that short messaging is wildly popular with Twitter and Facebook, I decided it was best to have my WordPress permalinks as short as possible. This is easy to do in WP with just a few simple steps.

Before telling you how to do it, please don't ask me how to set up your .htaccess file because I won't be able to assist. Even though Apache is more or less universal across the vast majority of web host providers as the web serving software of choice, certain hosts allow permissions with that while others don't. This how-to is based on the assumption yours is working properly and that WordPress can modify it without issue. If what you try below doesn't work for you, I can't help you there - but there is documentation that can, so go there if you have a problem making this work.

Step 1. Eliminate the WWW

Where: Settings / General

What to do: Change your WordPress address and Blog address to not contain the WWW.

Example:

image

Step 2. Use a permalink structure that is post ID only

Where: Settings / Permalinks

What to do: Choose a custom structure and set as /%post_id%

Example:

image

Also note that I don't use a trailing slash (this thing: /) at the end. It's not required so don't bother using it.

Step 3. Test it

If you used the default way WordPress does "pretty" permalinks, the old way looks like this:

http://www.example.com/2010/01/31/title-of-article/

The new super-short way looks like this:

http://example.com/12345

Load your WP blog in your browser. If your address bar dropped the WWW and shows as post ID for the permalinks, it's working and you're done.

Quick questions answered

Will I have to re-link anything?

Nope. WordPress is smart enough to keep all the old permalinks in the database. All the old links will auto-redirect with a 301 to the new ones. You don't have to re-link a thing, and that's awesome.

Will it hurt my SEO?

Only for the old stuff, but that's only temporary. You'll notice (if you know how to read a server log) that Googlebot will almost immediately start crawling your site like mad from all these "new" links it discovered. Shortly after that, the Goog picks up on your new permalink structure fairly quickly, as will all the other crawlers.

It used to be true that having the title of your article in the URL actually mattered for search keyword purposes, but that is no longer the case. What matters more is the proper use of plain ol' HTML header tags for article titles, and of course relevant content related to the title.

Are the links from other web sites to mine broken?

No. As said above, all the old links will 301 to the new ones.

A few final thoughts

Nobody cares about long URLs anymore. People want and in some instances demand short links.

In the past it was true that having the WWW actually was more search engine friendly. Why I have no idea, but it did work. These days the Goog doesn't really care about that anymore, so it's okay to drop it - as long as your old links 301 properly to the new ones without the WWW.

URL shortening services are evil because they can vanish into thin air literally overnight. Remember URLtea? Probably not. They were a service that did that and simply shut down with no notice at all. Putting any dependence on a URL shortening service is just plain dumb, and you're better off making your permalinks short at the source - your blog.

My domain is 5 characters long. Even if yours is double the length of mine at 10, if you drop the WWW and use post IDs for permalinks, your URLs are still very short, such as http://example123.com/12345.

Lastly, people these days are used to short non-descriptive URLs because of sites like TinyURL, is.gd and so on. And to boot it makes it easier for people to link to your blog posts.

Seems like a no-brainer to me. If you have a WP blog and host it yourself, shorten up your permalinks. It works out for everybody.

sometimes no limit is a bad thing (email geekery)

I learned the hard way several times that storing email on the internet is a bad idea, because I've lost thousands of emails that way over the years. You'd think I would have learned my lesson the first time..

Storing mail locally to your computer is a great idea as long as you back it up routinely and use the correct method to store it with.

I truly feel sorry for the poor saps out there that still use Outlook Express 6. Why? Because each mail folder uses a proprietary DBX format for storing mail. If one or more of your DBXs gets corrupted, bye-bye mail. Unless you have a backup, the b.s. you have to go through to get those files working again is just plain ridiculous.

If you use OE6, you are a moron because you're inviting bad things to happen in the future. Switch to Windows Live mail.

Windows Live Mail stores each message individually as an EML file in the store folder it uses, so if you have one email go corrupt for whatever reason, no big deal because it doesn't affect any of your other mail. In addition to that, you can manually repair a corrupted EML by directly editing it with a text editor like Notepad++. That's the beauty of the EML format. Even if a mail gets totally screwed up, you can manually edit to read what it said.

Outlook uses the dreaded PST method of storage, as in one big honkin' file. Yes, there's the repair utility for it, but screw that because it's a 50/50 shot whether it actually works or not.

There is one perk of using Outlook's way of storing mail however - it does have a predefined limit. The latest has a maximum file size of 33TB - and I'm assuming it warns you when you're reaching that limit. In the early-early versions the limit was 2GB.

Thunderbird 2, which is what I use, uses the MBOX database format. This can be edited manually with a text editor in case one of them goes corrupt. But the problem is that if you have to do that, fishing out the corrupt part of the database is a nightmare all its own. You'd have to manually break apart the db in pieces until you found where the corrupt portion was.

I've done some research trying to find out if anybody is aware of a predefined limit for an MBOX database. The answer is always the same - there is no predefined limit.

This is both good and bad.

Good: you can keep piling on data as much as you want without fear of running into a limit.

Bad: You never know how big is too big.

The proper thing to do is to sort mail by year to create separate MBOX files. However this doesn't touch another huge database, the Sent folder. You have to remember to sort out mail by year for that folder as well. My Sent folder is the second largest in my Thunderbird 2.

On top of that, part of the problem with T-Bird 2 is that there is no global search function. Yes, T-Bird 3 has that, but that client sucks.

And on top of that, I don't like running an old email client. When you do that, it makes it more difficult to migrate the data in the future.

What I may be doing in the future is switch back to Windows Live Mail when Wave 4 is released. That client, said honestly, is going to be awesome. It's going to bring in Outlook-esque features (ribbon interface), support tags, social networking updates, and so on. It's all good stuff. Truly.

The only sucky part about switching isn't the mail (because I have a method of exporting all T-Bird mail to individual EMLs for Windows Live Mail import), but rather the contact list. I have to manually put in all the addresses. Frickin' sucks. But oh well, I guess.

WL Mail Wave 4 is something I'm genuinely looking forward to. T-Bird 3 was an absolute disaster, and T-Bird 2 is really long in the tooth. The existing WL Mail is close to everything I want in a mail client, but is missing a few things that keeps me on TB2.

Hopefully when Wave 4 comes out it will be something I can switch to so I can kick Thunderbird to the curb. And I'm pretty sure that's exactly what's going to happen. The TB3 thing was just.. bad. Mozilla had a really good chance of being the free mail client again and botched it up something awful. Now Microsoft is going to step in and stomp Thunderbird into oblivion. I have no doubt of that, because if you've used TB3, you know how much it just plain sucks compared to TB2, and TB2 is old.

don't use the big goodbye

The Big Goodbye is something stupid people use in a seriously lame attempt to make themselves look smart when in fact it makes them look dumb.

In other words, TBGs are used by attention whores.

TBGs are best shown by example, so here's a few. I will be using Referee Slut to make this bloggo more attractive.

1. "..and I will never return to this site again!"

foul

FOUL

You're lying

The use of the word never means the exact opposite. Not only will you return but do so several times to make darn sure your stupid comment/post is there and seen.

See, here's the poop: If you truly did not want to visit a particular web site ever again, you'd simply stop and would never announce it. When you announce, you're attention-whoring. You are that whiny little four-year-old brat waving his or her arms for attention and might as well be screaming "LOOKIT ME! LOOKIT ME!"

2. "I'm unsubscribing!"

foul

FOUL

Nobody cares, and what you're doing has the exact opposite effect of what you think it has

The "I'M UNSUBSCRIBING" b.s. happens on YouTube and for other sites that use a subscription-based medium, such as newsletters.

What the mouth breather doesn't realize is that whenever they do this they're attracting *more* subscribers. They think that they're pulling some grand maneuver and that it's TOTALLY INSULTING to say "I'M UNSUBBING nanna-nanna boo-boo!". Um, no. You just attracted more subs, so you're nothing but a big pile of fail.

3. "X was better the way it used to be"

foul

FOUL

You like things to be old, crusty and predictable while everyone else doesn't

X can mean anything, be it a web site, forum, YouTube channel, author's content or whatever. The idiot blurts out that X was better Y time ago and that everything should go back to the way things were. This type of idiot is a back seat driver, and sincerely believes they speak for everyone. Um.. nope. Nobody cares.

This maneuver technically isn't a TBG, but it usually precedes one.

4. "I don't think people appreciate your.."

foul

FOUL

No one elected you leader, jackass

Your mention of people (and/or community) means you honestly think that you speak for everyone. Maybe in your own little world you do, but only there. Nobody asked you to speak for everybody, nor do they want you to. Nobody cares what you think, so shut your face.

5. "I'm going to tell everybody about [insert TBG user's inane bile here] and to NEVER to go to your site!"

foul

FOUL

You're lying. Again.

"Everybody" means nobody. Nobody cares about what you think about a certain web site or person. Repeat: They don't care. Why? Because "everybody" doesn't want to hear you complain about something you saw on the internet.

But let's say for the moment you do know people. Guess what happens? The exact opposite. You telling your friends about a web site you hate will prompt them to go to it.

Thanks for the free publicity! I should tick you off more often.

6. "A truly smart person would have.." / "Someone didn't do their research.."

foul

FOUL

Attempting to hide an insult makes you even more of an asshat

Something like this usually precedes a TBG.

So you thought you'd be all smooth 'n' smarmy by indirectly taking a jab at the author's intelligence. What you're trying (and failing) to do is hide a direct insult. The reason you're doing this is because if the author replies and says you're launching a personal attack, you'll reply and say, "I was never talking about you... it could have been anybody!" Wrong, jackass. You were talking about the author and everybody knows it. Stop being a douche nugget, because everybody can see right through that.

So kids, the lesson is this: Don't use a TBG unless you want to be instantly pegged as an attention whore with an IQ of a caveman.

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