Chances are your website has some reference-types of posts that are refreshed every year. In personal finance, there are plenty like IRA contribution limits or the income tax brackets. One great strategy that can help you accumulate more links is to make the post URLs dateless and shuffling the content around each year.

For example, let’s say you have a post on 2009 IRA contribution limits with the following URL:
http://www.yourblog.com/2009-IRA-contribution-limits.html

In 2010, I recommend that you use this URL for the 2010 version of the post:
http://www.yourblog.com/IRA-contribution-limits.html

When 2011 rolls around, create a new page:
http://www.yourblog.com/2010-IRA-contribution-limits.html

Move all the IRA-contribution-limits.html content into the new 2010-IRA-contribution-limits.html page and update the IRA-contribution-limits.html version with the updated information. The titles of the pages themselves should retain the date, it will help the reader know more clearly what year the information applies to.

This lets the dateless URL accumulate links, thereby increasing its link profile, while keeping the data fresh and accurate. This also gives people a chance to find the archived reference information should they need that as well. This won’t pay huge dividends at first but after a few iterations, you will see good results. At the very least, your site won’t be competing with itself.

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17 Responses to “Accumulate Link Equity by Shuffling Annual Reference Posts”

  1. Jeremy Says:

    What about a post that you wrote 3 years ago, it’s already found its way to the top few spots in SERPs, and you have just been updating the header and the few times it mentions the year in the post?

    I have one like this and I’ve just been afraid to touch it since it already ranks about as good as it’s going to. Sure, the permalink has the original post date in it, but I just refresh the very few instances regarding the date each year.

    Would I be better off to maintain this strategy for this post since it’s already doing well or would there still be any sort of benefit for using the method you mention?

  2. jim Says:

    If it has the year in it, then it’ll be a little confusing when readers see 2007-whatever-topic-this-is.html with 2010 information in it. In that case, I’d just start fresh with a dateless one you can update each year. Then on the older, better ranked page, link to the new one. Then keep the new one updated and build future links to that post.

    Or, don’t do anything and leave well enough alone. You can use this strategy for other annual reference type posts.

  3. Patrick Says:

    I think one of the problems Jeremy has is one that a lot of bloggers, including myself, have. We used dates in the permalink structure (would love to go back 3 years ago and undo that).

    So it looks like:

    http://yourblog.com/2010/01/11/ira-contribution-limits/

    I would love to change he url structure on my site, but I’ve got 3 years of archives and I’m too worried about losing link equity or rankings in Google (I know redirects should take care of it, but I’m not willing to take the chance at this point).

    I’m guessing the best option would be to simply link to the most current version from the old url in a clear way?

  4. Peter Says:

    What Patrick said, I wish I could go back and change things, but at this point 2 years in I’m afraid to change my permalinks to ones without dates for fear of losing my rankings in google. Mine look something like this:

    http://www.biblemoneymatters.com/2010/01/ira-contribution-limits/

    so there is a month and year in the permalink. What to do for us? Does anyone have any case studies of bloggers who have switched their permalinks without having any problems with search rankings or linkbacks?

  5. jim Says:

    I don’t think the benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks of changing permalinks now, especially since dates in the post URL aren’t going to kill you.

  6. Ben Says:

    Pete & Patrick, have you tried a redirect with one post just to see what happens?

    I don’t have the date in the url issue but I had a misspelling in a url that I later caught. I fixed the spelling in the url in wordpress and used a 301 redirect in my htaccess from the old url to the new and it didn’t cause any issues.

  7. Patrick Says:

    Ben, I’m not worried about the post redirecting, I”m sure it would work. I’m more concerned with the short and long term search engine effects. That would be difficult (and potentially expensive) to test with one article. I’m also not sure if I can change the permalink structure for one article unless I were to make it a page.

    I’m considering changing the permalink structure on my second site and testing the effects there. I plan on discussing this with a few people to determine whether or not it is worth the risk before making the change.

  8. jim Says:

    If you do it correctly with a 301 redirect, it’ll be fine. You will have some short term fall in traffic, as Google and other search engines adjust, but it should be fixed fairly quickly (days or weeks, not months). I just don’t think it’s worth the trouble.

  9. Mike Says:

    I have the same date problem. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Maybe just create pages for this type of post. Even though they aren’t published to your front page it shouldn’t really matter.

  10. Fred @ One Project Closer Says:

    Jim – If you find yourself with a lot of link equity to one of the year posts and you want to push that link equity forward, you could do a 301 redirect from the dated page to the non-dated page, and then setup a new URL structure for the dated page. E.g., if you had “Best-Pick-up-Trucks-2009” and you wanted to genericize it, you could 301 redirect that page to “Best-Pick-up-Trucks”, then create a new page at “2009-Best-Pick-up-Trucks” for the old information…

    I find that some of us want to do the yearly posts because we’re seeing traffic from those posts and it is likely because we’ve gotten some good link equity into them.

  11. Fred @ One Project Closer Says:

    I just read the threads between Peter and Patrick above… Just FYI that I have done a massive permalink redirect on our site successfully.

    I went from a structure of /%category%/%postname%/ to just /%postname%/

    I’m using Dean’s permalinks migration plugin and it worked flawlessly… All the incoming link juice moved to the new pages and google updated its indexes over the course of 0-4 weeks with no interruption in search traffic.

  12. Patrick Says:

    Thanks for the info, Fred. I think I’ll try it on one of my minor sites before trying it on my flagship. Just in case! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Mike Says:

    Ditto – thanks Fred.

    I’m going to wait until Patrick tries it (successfully) on his flagship blog before I try it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Matt Jabs Says:

    Many of you know, I also recently completed a successful move from /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%/ to /%postname%/

    I tried using Deans perms plugin but ran into some complications, so I just used .htaccess.

    Here is the code to use if you want to go this route: RewriteRule ^([0-9]{4})/([0-9]{1,2})/([^/]+)(.*)?$ http://www.yourdomain.com/$3/ [R=301,L]

    Although it was not painless, for me it is/was definitely worth it. Dated URLs pissed me off on so many fronts.

    I decided to go with one post for annual ref posts. An example is my IRA contrib posts in which I just plan to update it w/the fresh content on the top of the page each year. http://www.debtfreeadventure.com/traditional-and-roth-ira-contribution-limits/

  15. Mike Says:

    Matt, I’ll send you an email but you should change all your internal links to point to the new url. I notice you haven’t done that.

    I haven’t used it myself but this plugin might help:

    http://urbangiraffe.com/plugins/search-regex/

  16. Matt Jabs Says:

    Oh wow Mike, I thought I had already done that! Thank you for pointing it out.

    I used the plugin you referenced and it worked like a charm. All internal links are now updated.

    Thank you kindly.

  17. ยป Blogging Tip: Don’t Use Dates in Your Permalink Structure @ jammer(six) ยซ Says:

    […] related to the republication point above, but it bears repeating. Jim over at Wangarific actually takes things a step further than I did, suggesting that you might want to have one “master” post for reference info […]

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