Should You Modify Your Blog Post Format For Better SEO?

Pros and Cons of Modifying Blog Post Format For Better SEO

Recently, having been nominated and having made the top 20 finalist list for Social Media Examiner’s Top 10 Blogs of 2013 (out of over 720 submissions), we contemplated changing our blog post format to something shorter and sweeter for SEO purposes. We even tried switching it for a day, without fully thinking it through mind you.

Our Challenge

Our current format was our URL+year+month+date+post-name and we wanted to change it to  our URL + post-name for better SEO.  However, to change it on a blog that already had over 245 sites linking into it, mostly other bloggers, would/could be detrimental.

We asked some of our blogging friends and here’s what they had to say:

Q: Is it wise to change out your blog title format on an already well established blog?

Frank Tocco, from How To Use WordPress Tutorials.com says, “I wouldn’t do it if it were me. I did this once and never got the link juice back that it once had on the site. It was a big hassle but one of the best lessons I have learned about using WordPress. Set every site up correctly before ever posting a single post.”

Scott Frangos from WebDirexion weighed in with some counter advice:

  • Your existing URLs are too long, so shorter would be better
  •  Research exists that dates in URLs turn off visitors who think the information is out of date when in some cases it may still apply
  • You can easily insert a 301 redirect plugin so that your links from external sites will still work

It is true that some disruption will occur. Your SEO may take a bump. But in the long-run, I recommend the opposite of the advice you received so far for the reasons given above.

The bottom line was they were both right. Scott is correct and lists all of the reasons we were contemplating it in the first place. But Frank had a point about not being able to get back the link juice.

The Cons

In order to make this switch, we’d have to  either modify the .htaccess file and add a line of code for each blog post to redirect old URL to the new URL, or we could install a plugin to handle the redirects from external sites as Frank points out. But, what about the internal links? Plus, do we really want another plugin to deal with? And who has time to modify the .htaccess file for over 400 blog posts. That seems like a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere. Plus, it also seemed that since our topic was in social media and is already very fluid, people would always be looking for the latest and greatest content on a particular topic, so dates might be good.

The Pros

It is good for ever-green content and good for SEO to have shorter URLs. In general, it’s good for shorter URLs because you can rattle them off your tongue or print them on a business card or at the bottom of an email very easily.

Final Decision

In the end we decided that because our content deals with social media and because we write about a lot of relevant & timely topics, we think that our readers would want to know the date on when something was written. Our friend Jon Loomer, who was one of the Top 10 Social Media Blogs of 2013 from Social Media Examiner, writes a Facebook tips blog and he still keeps the dates on his posts and he seems to be doing pretty well.

What do you think? Did we make a good choice? What would you have done if you were us?

 

 

About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is a social media consultant, strategist, and analyst.

Comments

  1. You made a good choice. You gained followers this way already and you will get more not because your articles are easy to find SEO-wise but because you write good content.

    Since social media is very flexible and can change 180 degrees overnight, it is better to have it that way so your readers will know how you have adjusted your writing and content according to the “trends” and what actually matters.

  2. I researched this EXACT question tonight because I could tell some content was re-purposed due to the dates of the comments. My comments don’t have the dates included, so I thought it would be a great way for me to bring some of my older, yet still relevant material back to the front of my blog by repurposing it.

    So…I made the change… and started worrying about all my links in and out, etc… My brain started going a bit crazy thinking of things.

    And now a couple of hours later, I find that it is still on my mind because I am planning the beginning stages of a call where I share “What I Wish I Had Known About Websites Before I Built Mine” that include VERY important points I wish to warn my clientele about since I’ve just offered to help them streamline their websites and streamline their copywriting! And want to share tips on repurposing content!!!!

    So, here I am on your website…and I’ve already popped back over to WordPress and changed my permalink back to the original year & month + blog title format…. Hope I didn’t mess anything up in that couple hours of space!!!!

    One of the things that kept popping thru my mind, that you may find relevant & a great point is this: personally when I do a search for something on the internet I very often add the year to my search because I want the most updated info for my topic. Have you ever done this? For this reason, having the year in the URL may actually be a great move, because there’s so much content to filter through, and others may do the same thing to cut through the older stuff.

    Thanks so much for sharing your own experience with this, because you may have just saved me from a poorly thought out mistake….

    Melody

    • Tracy Sestili says:

      Thanks Melody. I too, depending on the topic, add the year to my search. That’s why I left it in there too. And glad I could help.