Well formed URL’s are important to usability and SEO.
However, the base install of WordPress will add the word “category” to your url structure before the actual category name. Having “category” in the middle of your URL is not particularly useful, certainly not pretty and can make URL’s longer and harder to remember.
For example, if you have a category on your site called “Gadgets” you would want the URL to look like this:
The url is so intuitive that someone could just type it in and find what they are looking for.
Unfortunately, without some modification your URL will look like this:
The disadvantages of leaving /category/ in are that it is longer and harder to remember and, according to some sources, the deeper keywords are in the URL the less relevant they are from an SEO standpoint. And you do use well thought out keywords for your category names don’t you?
Keep in mind that URL’s are an important part of SEO, though in the big picture they are only one piece of a much larger puzzle. In other words, URL’s alone won’t give you a ton of SEO juice, but they can help, so don’t ignore them either.
In my opinion, usability is the most important issue and the real reason for well formed URL’s.
ESPN is a good example, if I want to know about football, I know I can go to http://espn.com/nfl and get football info. I don’t even have to guess if that’ll get me where I want to be.
There are a couple of ways to get rid of the “/category/” in your WordPress URL’s:
- Add some code to your .htaccess file (not-recommended)
- Use a plugin.
Sidebar: .htaccess files allow you to make web server configurations on a per directory basis and allows for decentralized web server configuration, including things like URL rewriting.
Having been a coder, I’m not at all afraid to modify .htaccess but for most I wouldn’t recommend it. Getting it wrong can cause you some serious headache. In this case, a WordPress plugin works extremely well and is headache free.
For the last couple of years I’ve been using “WP No Category Base.” It works flawlessly, is kept up to date and does exactly what we need: it removes “/category/” from our category based URL’s and nothing more.
Just download-install-activate and you’re done.
Additional thought: I don’t particularly care for dates in URL’s either, I see them a lot but I’m not inclined to click on yoursite.com/2010/03/ it just doesn’t have meaning.
Download WP No Category Base and get started cleaning up your URL’s!
What permalink structure works well for your WordPress site?
Added notes (1/12/2011): Got a tweet from Bill Erickson regarding performance issues with this plugin. I personally have not experienced any performance issues but Bill has, including one site whos page load time increased 100x when the plugin was deactivated. If you use this plugin and experience any latency as a result, deactivate it and see if the problem goes away, then come back here and let me know! As Bill has said, page load time is far more important than one word in a URL. Again, no issues in my usage but keep an eye on it and as with all things WordPress, if you start to have any problems, plugins are the first thing to check.