now look like: https://gretchenlouise.com/pretty-permalinks/
See the difference? Yes, I like it, too.
Why was it scary, you ask? Because suddenly all the numbers on the share buttons below each post went down to big fat zeros. All those likes and Tweets and pins that I’d worked kinda hard to get — the links would still work, but I had nothing to show for them. Because of some silly algorithms that don’t allow redirected links to count.
It was scary. But it was a good opportunity to embrace humility. Especially since I should have done it when I moved from littlepinkhouse.net to gretchenlouise.com last summer. I started over with zeros last summer and I started over again with zeros for the month of April! What are social media share counts, anyway? Just one of the many ways to see how popular a post is.
But why would I want to remove the dates from my links? Well, I have become quite attached to the fact that the links are now much prettier without so many numbers and slashes in them. But the truth is that search engines are more partial to posts without dates in them, as well. They are more likely to view them as fresher, newer posts if they don’t have dates hanging out in the URL. Which is good for search engine optimization, ranking, and all that.
It also makes my posts appear more timeless to everyone else. I still have the date within the post itself, so people can easily get their bearings as to when I wrote something and how applicable it is now (I think this is especially helpful with technical posts!). But the link won’t appear outdated in a year. It’s the same reason I chose my name as my new domain name — it’s timeless, unlike the color of my house. (It’s no longer pink, peoples. Even though I will probably always think of it that way, and so will you!)
What blogging platforms allow you to change your permalink structure?
WordPress.org and SquareSpace.
In WordPress, just choose Settings, Permalinks, and “Post Name.”
If you’re scared to touch your .htaccess file, install a plugin like Redirection or Permalink Finder before you change your permalinks so that all your old links will redirect. If you have access to and understand how to use your cPanel file manager or FTP, then use Yoast’s Permalink Helper to create the .htaccess code that will redirect all your permalinks correctly.
In SquareSpace, visit the General Settings to change the permalink style. SquareSpace post permalinks will always have /blog/ or something in front of the /post-name/ section (don’t ask me why–I wasn’t impressed by that feature!), but you can skip the date and just keep “title”.
(To edit what appears in place of /blog/ in your SquareSpace post permalinks, click the “gear” icon by your blog in the Content Manager section to change the collection URL.)
Why should I take the date out of my permalinks?
- Reader perception.
- Shorter link.
- Easier to remember links.
Why would I want to leave the date in my permalink?
If your post share counts are really high and you need to prove to an agent that your readers love your blog, you could leave them. But you could also take some screenshots. If a book deal isn’t imminent, change the post permalinks now and give yourself time to recollect some numbers. (Permalink structure changes won’t affect page permalinks unless you still had the numeric structure like https://gretchenlouise.com/?p=9527)
What should I do before I change my permalinks?
Save some screenshots of the social media share counts on your most shared posts, if you want. Making a database backup is also a spectacular idea before you do anything major in WordPress. (Try a plugin like BackWPup.)
What should I do after I change my permalinks?
Reset any plugins that might have indexed your permalinks, like nRelate or LinkWithin. Start tweeting up your old posts (you could even use a plugin like Tweetify to do it automatically), repin some of your most popular posts — work on getting some traffic to your older posts that will help you regain those likes and shares. (You could even ask your mastermind group buddies to go back and like a few of their favorite posts within your archives.)
What if I’m on WordPress.com or Blogger?
You can’t change your permalink structure, but you can keep your post slug as short, neat, and clean as possible (and make sure those few words are good keywords!). If you write a post called “Ten Things I Love About Summer” you could change your post slug to be “i-love-summer” or just “summer”. Just change the slug before you first post, rather than after (or your feed readers might come to a broken permalink)!