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.
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%
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:
The new super-short way looks like this:
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.
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