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How to remove the dates from your permalinks

Today, as bloggers, we need quality over quantity. Most of us have hundreds, if not thousands of posts built up in the recesses of our blogs. And we’re still working our butts off to publish several times a week. And traffic is declining for blogs the world over.

Hootsuite said 50% decline in traffic from social media to blogs since 2015. Does that ring true for you?

The reason for the decline, in my estimation, is the greater number of blogs, the quality of blogging and the prevalence of social media ‘blogging’. We work in a crowded market space, and we face greater competition. So despite your increasing talent at photography, the practice at writing and all the networking, conference-going and Instagramming, the full-time blogging world is increasingly difficult.

To counter this trend, established bloggers are focusing on SEO like never before. Today we’re going to talk about one small part of boosting our SEO scores – evergreen content. Specifically how to turn a dated blog into a piece of evergreen content.

If you want to republish or repurpose a blog, do you remove the original publish date so it doesn’t display? Will it still ‘show’ to Google? How do we get a rescan from google?

What do you do if the permalink for the original blog has a date in it? All the blogs migrated from blogger used to have this permalink arrangement:

/year/mo/post-title.html

And once upon time it was the recommended best practice to use dates to keep the database / permalink connection faster for all WordPress blogs.

Now, most WordPress bloggers can safely use post-title permalinks without speed or database issues. So how does one remove these dates from your permalinks? And more importantly, not break any incoming links?

Remove Month & Year from Permalinks in WordPress

Let’s talk about how to remove your dates from permalinks (in WordPress) without breaking any links!

Step 1: contact your host to see if they’ll do it for you.

  • WordPress specialists like Orange Geek or WP Engine will help you with this. Continue on if you must do it yourself.

Step 2: create a redirect for incoming links. 

  • Use the plugin Redirection by Godley. You will need to redirect all year/mo/post links to /post links. You do this using regular expressions. (A regular expression tutorial is beyond the scope of this post.)

Step 3: replace the dated post links in the database

  • Use the plugin Search Regex by Godley to search all the links and replace them.

Note: I learned the hard way – do not replace ALL dated links, as /wp-content/uploads/YEAR/MO are to your photos!!

Step 4: change the permalinks in the Settings tab

  • Now you’re ready to change the permalinks!

Does a post-name permalink help SEO?

At some point there was speculation that placing your keywords at the front of the url carried some benefit. According to that line of thinking, removing the dates would put your post title closer to the front of the link.

Personally, I’m skeptical of that belief. A few words in between the first character and last won’t change Google’s mind about the authority or relevancy of your post, in my estimation.

The other point made about dates and SEO is the freshness. We know that Google looks for fresh, relevant and authoritative content to best serve it’s searchers. Will removing the date (especially an old date) make your post seem more fresh? I think your best approach would be to use the post-name permalink in conjunction with the other things that tell Google the publish date. What surprises most is that the permalink is not what tells Google how old your post is. It is your publish date. 

The publish date may or may not be displayed on your post. For example, most templates don’t display dates on a Page but may on a post. Some templates will also display the updated date which is another option.

Does re-publishing with a current date help SEO?

Actually making anything current and relevant will theoretically help with SEO. BUT before you go ahead and change all the post dates to TODAY, think about the weight of time. Some other metrics that Google is said to use, is the longevity of the domain. The longer its been around kinda means that it is more authoritative than not. Fly-by-night is not an SEO friendly site.

Also, consider whether republishing will do more harm than good. Republishing will mean getting rid of all those incoming links (and the Google points that they transfer). Yes, we can forward the incoming links to the newly published post but I think it’s better not to.

(That is my opinion, and its just founded on my intuition about SEO – Google webmaster guidelines say that the robots ‘follow’ 301 permanent redirects without penalty…)

One more thing – if your post is doing well, I would caution against changing anything too drastically. We don’t know all the factors that go into Google’s decision making process and if your post is on the first page, is it really worth risking changing things?

If you’re looking into SEO be sure to read these posts too:

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