The best thing you can do as an author is to kill off your blog’s dates.
We just killed off our blog’s dates at Author Media and wish we had done it years ago. Sure it was messy and painful but it needed to be done. We want our permalinks to be pretty, darn it!
No, I haven’t suddenly turned Stephen King on you. For the rest of this post, the best thing you can do is think of dates as days of the year, not potential love interests. It will just make life easier for all of us.
Confused about permalinks and why they need to change? Simply put, permalinks are permanent links that point back to a specific blog post or article once they have entered the site archives.
Most of the time, they follow this structure: www.domain.com/year/month/day/post-name.
It’s time to change that.
Do yourself a favor and kill off those pesky dates. What seems like a minor detail is really a big deal, especially if your platform is established on non-fiction.
NOTE: This is only for WordPress.org websites. WordPress.com does not allow you to change your permalink structure. You also need to come up with a game plan for redirecting links. That is not covered in this post.
In this article, you’ll discover:
- Why dates in permalinks need to be snuffed out
- How to do the deed without killing your website (or going to jail)
- When you should flip the switch
TentBlogger and Yoast also have really solid things to say about permalinks and go into wonderful technical detail about the process. If you want a super-technical post, I recommend Paul Stamatiou’s thoughts on the matter. So if you’re already bored with this post, hop on over to hear what they have to say.
Ready? Here we go.
Reasons why blog dates need to die -
1. They aren’t going to age well.
Blog posts aren’t wine. No one every scours the internet for a perfectly aged post to pair with their new iPad. That’s just not how technology works. Technology constantly changes and your blog posts need to change with it.
Quit thinking of your post as simply a one and done. You can’t just hit “publish” and then walk away. Those days are over. Think of it as it’s own page that needs to grow and be edited with time. Killing off your blog’s dates allows you to go back and update the content as needed.
Recency and relevancy need to be part of your blogging strategy. Not only is it important for you to provide value to your readers, you need to do it in a timely manner. You need to be relevant and recent to get on Google’s good side.
Recency – Google updated to favor fresh content on their search pages. It makes sense if you think about it. If I were to Google “Summer Writing Conferences” I would want the ones that are coming up this summer. Not the ones that happened when I was a kid.
Relevancy – Is your content out of date? Does it have anything to do with what people are searching for? If I’m searching “Summer Writing Conferences” I better not be getting results for the Summer Olympics!
This is a great strategy, especially if you are a non-fiction or business writer. If something changes, simply update the post instead of spending hours writing a new one. For Author Media, it was a perfect solution
2. No one likes them.
Have you ever noticed how long some URLs are? They seem to go on forever. Don’t be the blogger with a separate zip code for each URL. Take charge of the situation. Get rid of them.
I hate it when people send me links that take up half my screen, don’t you? There are ways to shrink them but in their organic form, they are grotesque.
There used to be solid reasons for having the date in the permalink. They had to do with website strategy and SEO. But those reasons don’t exist any more. It doesn’t matter as much when your post was published as it does the fact that people read it.
3. It needs to be done.
There are some things in life that just need to be done. This is one of them.
When we were arguing about when to do it at Author Media, Thomas Umstattd made a point. “Yes, we’ll lose some social badges but putting it off will only make it more painful.”
I hate it when he’s right.
What’s worse? Loosing a few month’s worth of likes/+1s/pins or years and years worth?
For us, it was just time.
- I’m learning to kill my blog’s dates. I’m going to do it this week! – click to tweet.
- @AuthorMedia just killed their blog permalink dates. I’m going to do it too. – click to tweet.
- Call me crazy but killing my blog’s dates just makes sense. – click to tweet.
- You need to be relevant and recent to get on Google’s good side. – click to tweet.
- What’s a permalink and why should I care what they look like? – click to tweet.
How To Kill the Dates
Here’s a step-by-step guide. It’s really easy.
1. Log into the back end of your WordPress.org site.
2. Find the settings tab on your dashboard.
Once you find the “tools” tab, click through to the Permalinks section.
3. This lovely screen will be waiting for you.
You want to click “post name” and then “save changes.”
That’s how you kill your blog’s dates. Pretty simple, wasn’t it? The collateral damage is all the links that have come to your post already. They are still there but they just don’t get counted any longer.
4. Generate redirects.
All those links have to go somewhere and it would be a shame to let them die. Yoast created a spiffy little plugin that will help you generate redirects. I recommend using it.
When should you flip the switch?
Pull up your website and start the process now.