I’m a member of a number of blogging groups on Facebook. We talk about group specific things (preparedness, homesteading, etc), but we also talk about general blogging issues, too.
Recently, in a couple of the groups, we have had discussions about reposting old blog posts, and today someone shared a link to an article on a blog that talks about how republishing an old article could hurt your blog. I read it, and after recalling previous discussions on the topic (with some highly SEO savvy folks), I have to circumstantially disagree with what the article says.
Allow me to explain…
The blog in question had their permalink setting to “your-url.com/YEAR/MO/name-of-your-post”. Let’s say you’ve written a great post 2 years ago, and since then you have discovered some new information (or some information you posted in that article has changed). You decide that this information needs to be revamped, republished and relearned. According to the tactics in the article, you would simply change the information, repromote the post, and possibly do a “round-up” type of post with this link added in.
That’s fine. Certainly nothing wrong with that.
But if you did republish it, what would happen?
Well, first, your URL would change to the current date (if you republished today, it would change to “your-url.com/2014/02/name-of-your-post”). This would cause Google to reindex this as a new page, and anybody who had linked to the old post would now have dead links (which are bad for your SEO). Google might also see this as spam since it has indexed information exactly like this before from another URL (your old post).
However, if you blog like a lot of the people I know, your url should be “your-url.com/name-of-your-post” (notice no date). This means you can republish this as often as you like and not get penalized by Google. Why? Because you’re not changing the URL. Only the content. Same as the method that was in the article. You’re changing the information on the page, but not changing the “location” of the page itself.
Why You Don’t Need the Date in Your URL
Now with all of that said, why would you want to use the “no-date-in-the-url” method of permalinking? There are a couple of reasons.
The first being if you ever want to republish an article for whatever reason, it won’t hurt your search engine rankings. The less obvious reason (and one that is most argued with) is that if you’re writing timeless information, why date-stamp your work? Some readers (not all, mind you) see an article from two years ago and just want “more current information” regardless if they get the exact same information from someone who’s written an article yesterday vs your article from two years ago. They would rather know they’re getting information from someone who’s “current”.
Also, if you write a post, and the information in the post changes drastically, you’re kind of stuck. What can you do?
You can delete the post altogether, but that would cause a dead link, which (again) is bad for your SEO.
You could write a second post and leave that one up, but then you have a blog with incorrect information which, even though it’s dated, will lead some people to believe that you post incorrect information, which will hurt your credibility as a blogger.
You could revamp the information and repromote the post, but then you have current information on an outdated post, meaning some people will know you either wrote the wrong information in the past, or you have changed the information since on a past post, again, potentially hurting your credibility as a blogger.
The point I’m trying to make here is that if you’re using the date in your permalink, your article information isn’t pertinent… and if you’ll notice on most (if not all) of the big bloggers’ websites, they all use the “url.com/name-of-post” format for the above reasons.
Ok, so technically you can have a permalink structure that includes the date and still share pertinent information, but that is best left to journal-style blogs that share information in which the date may be important. Otherwise, I can’t think of a single reason you would need the date in the URL.
Anyway, I hope this information helps. If you disagree and can give me links to show me why republishing an old article will hurt your blog, please let me know. I am always learning and never turn down the opportunity to learn more!