One of the great things about using WordPress is that it automatically creates keyword-rich, spider-friendly URLs for your posts (as long as your Permalink settings in the Options tab of the WordPress admin are configured properly). Many times, though, these URLs are TOO keyword-rich. In other words, the URL has too many words in it. That happens if you create a long title to your post, because every word in the title is worked into the URL automatically by WordPress.
But how long is “too long” for a URL? For the answer to this question, I went to the source: Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team. In my interview with Matt Cutts, I asked:
“What is excessive in the length of a keyword-rich URL? We have seen clients use keyword URLs that have 10 to 15 words strung together with hyphens; or blogs – we have seen them even longer there. A typical WordPress blog will use the title of the post as the post slug, unless you defined something different and you can just go on and on and on. Can you give any guidelines or recommendations in that regard?”
“Certainly. If you can make your title four- or five-words long – and it is pretty natural. If you have got a three, four or five words in your URL, that can be perfectly normal. As it gets a little longer, then it starts to look a little worse. Now, our algorithms typically will just weight those words less and just not give you as much credit.
The thing to be aware of is, ask yourself: â€œHow does this look to a regular user?â€? – because if, at any time, somebody comes to your page or, maybe, a competitor does a search and finds 15 words all strung together like variants of the same word, then that does look like spam, and they often will send a spam report. Then somebody will go and check that out.
So, I would not make it a big habit of having tons and tons of words stuffed in there, because there are plenty of places on a page, where you can have relevant words and have them be helpful to users – and not have it come across as keyword stuffing.”
Based on this new information from Matt, you can see that even your blog post slugs have the potential to appear spammy and “keyword stuffed,” which doesn’t look great for your readers and may end up getting flagged as “spam.” So how can you prevent your blog from appearing spammy?
I’d strongly recommend that you curb the length of your URLs. There are a couple of different approaches to this in WordPress:
- Hand-craft your own “Post Slug” when you are writing the post. To do so, simply type in your desired post slug into the “Post Slug” field found on the right-hand side of the “Write Post” page in the WordPress admin (you probably will have to hit the + sign to see the field). You can mirror your post’s title but drop throwaway words like “the” and “and”. You can take the first four words or so of the title as your slug. Heck, you could even write something totally different that doesn’t resemble your post title.
- Use a WordPress plugin that will trim your post slugs down to a more manageable size, i.e. to five or six words. There are two plugins to choose from that will accomplish this: the WordPress Slug Trimmer plugin or the Automated SEO Friendly URL plugin.
For more great tips from Matt Cutts, I invite you to listen to my audio interview in MP3 format or read the full transcript. The interview is a little over 30 minutes long, and it has some invaluable advice.
Enjoy, and happy search engine optimized blogging!!!