One thing I mentioned was making sure your permalinks were set to “Post Name.”
When I started blogging, I didn’t do that. Which has been kind of a pain in my neck.
Basically, the reason you want to do this is so your posts are “evergreen.” Which means that they remain relevant no matter what the date is. The only sites that actually need to have dates in the URL are news sites. That’s it. The rest of us need to be evergreen.
What are the benefits of being evergreen?
Firstly, having those dates in the URL is kind of a turn-off for some readers. If I’m looking for the solution to a blogging problem, I want something that was published recently so I know it works. You can update your old posts to make sure the information is up-to-date (you should really be doing that, by the way). But if a reader sees that 2012 was the publishing date, they likely won’t even give your post a read-through to see if you updated it. They’ll assume you didn’t and pass you over.
Secondly, not having dates in the posts means you can republish old posts.
What is republishing?
There is a lot of confusion over how republishing works. Most people hear that word and think it means to repost something. Absolutely do not repost your old content. Google sees duplicate content as spammy (which is also why you shouldn’t let other bloggers repost your content, why you shouldn’t send the same guest posts to multiple blogs, etc.).
What republishing really means is this: you find an old post that could use a little love (or one that you think your new and growing audience will enjoy) and update it–change the photos if needed, add new information, edit grammar, etc. Then you change the publishing date, press “OK,” and then “Schedule/Publish.”
This is useful for multiple reasons:
- It’s an easy post. You update old content and then republish it as if it’s new content. That’s way easier than building a whole new post from the ground up.
- It’s a great way to cycle old content back through your blog and get your best content seen by more people.
- When you republish, it will be sent out through your RSS feeds again. So, once again, news eyes on old content.
Republishing is a GREAT reason to make sure your posts are evergreen.
I realize that it sounds lazy to just churn out old posts, maybe you even feel like that’s cheating. But it’s actually extremely beneficial to your readers and to you. Instead of leaving up old, outdated posts, you make them relevant and timeless. Being able to republish that post is a huge incentive to do that. (I know that before I was able to republish, my list of “Posts to Edit” was long and constantly growing. Now that I can republish, I’m trying to get as many fixed and updated as I can. Since most of those posts were written before anyone knew this blog existed, a lot of it is seen as “new content” by most of my readers.)
What often happens when someone new visits your blog is this: they see your old post on Google or Pinterest, think it looks interesting, and they click on it. If they read through that post and decide that it’s outdated and useless (for example, a post about how to best utilize Facebook in 2012 isn’t going to be very helpful in 2015), they’re not going to click on anything else on your blog. They’ll just leave.
Updating and republishing that post keeps those old posts on your blog, but keeps them relevant. Plus your subscribers will get to see that it’s been updated.
How do I make my posts evergreen?
As I said above, the best way to keep your posts evergreen is to remove dates from the URL. This is easy if you’re setting up a new blog. All you do is go Settings –> Permalinks, click on Post Name and then Save. Done!
I’m willing to bet the majority of people reading this are not NEW bloggers, though. Or at least not new enough that there are no posts on your site yet.
So how do you fix your permalink structure without breaking your site?
This is something I put off for months–MONTHS–because I thought it would be such a pain. I thought, “It’s going to take me HOURS to set this up and then you know what? I’ll probably wind up breaking everything. None of my links will work and I’ll have to undo everything, if it even CAN be undone.”
All of that was incorrect. Fixing my permalinks was SO easy. It took me less than five minutes.
All you need to do is set up redirection.
How to set it up:
Step 01: As I said above, go to Settings –> Permalinks, click on Post Name and then Save.
Step 02: Now go to your FTP and find the .htaccess file. Make a copy of this file in one of the folders on your computer. And then make a second copy in another folder. The first copy is so you have the original in case something goes wrong with the edited file. Don’t touch the first copy.
Step 03: Using your favorite text reader (I use Notetab Lite, which is free), open the .htaccess file (the one you intend to edit).
Step 04: Now go to Yoast’s Redirection Helper. Type in all the relevant information:
Step 05: Click “Generate Redirect” and it will give you a short code. Highlight it and copy it.
Step 06: Go back to your text reader. Paste the code at the top of the .htaccess file.
Step 07: Save the file. Go back to your FTP. Drag and drop your new .htaccess file so it replaces the old one.
Step 08: Give it a moment to save and then check your site. If it didn’t work and your site crashes or something, just go to the folder where you put the original copy of the file (the one you did not change) and drag and drop it into your FTP.
If that doesn’t work for you, I don’t know why it wouldn’t. However, there are apparently lots of plugins that will do this for you, but I found them tedious. And I don’t want a bunch of plugins bogging down my site when I can just fix the problem with a bit of code.
I was so surprised by how easily this worked that I actually thought I was imagining that it was working. But no! All of my URLs are now clean and date-free. Yay!
If you’ve been putting off setting up your 301 redirects, stop! It was so easy to do and the end result is so worth it.
FAQs About Redirecting Links
Will this affect my Pinterest pins?
NO. Redirection means that, no matter where people are coming from, when they go to the old URL they will be taken to the new URL. So your social media links are fine.
Will the number of pins/shares disappear?
It will disappear on your sharing plugins. But it doesn’t change the fact that they’ve been shared. All pins (even if you changed the URL on the pin itself) and posts on social media will still go to that blog post. The number on Shareasholic will just be lost. Which really isn’t that important.
Where is my .htaccess file?
I use an FTP client called Filezilla. So, for me, I just open the FTP on my computer, go to my blog’s folder, and the .htaccess file is tucked away in there. If you’re not familiar with FTP clients, you can access those files from your host’s FTP. The location can vary depending on your host, though. So if you have trouble finding it, I would recommend contacting Customer Service. (You could also potentially Google it.)
I use WordPress.com, will this fix work for me?
No. You can’t edit files in free WordPress. This tutorial was made for self-hosted WordPress.org.