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Using Living URLs for Seasonal Content

Understand How Google Handles Dates

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I’ve mentioned incorporating living URL’s into your SEO strategy before.  Now that I have been experimenting with them for a while, I have some tips about using them a little bit more intelligently.

If you read fashion magazines, you know that every year they publish a spring fashion update; bridal magazines publish new spring wedding dresses; and bands that have been around a long time will always return to give concerts in major cities like New York or Los Angeles. Traditionally, publishers would use a solution like this:

Title: Women’s Spring Fashion For 2011

URL: example.com/womens-spring-fashion-2011/

Title: Spring Bridal Dresses 2011

URL: example.com/spring-bridal-dresses-2011/

Title: U2 Concert Tickets Madison Square Garden 2011

URL: example.com/u2-concert-tickets-madison-square-garden-2011/

To use the living URL strategy, you need to understand how Google handles dates and to know when to use them and when to avoid them. My recommendation is to keep the year in the page/html title (updating it every year) but to keep the year out of the URL. So it would look like this:

Title: Women’s Spring Fashion For 2011

URL: example.com/womens-spring-fashion/

Title: Spring Bridal Dresses 2011

URL: example.com/spring-bridal-dresses/

Title: U2 Concert Tickets Madison Square Garden 2011

URL: example.com/u2-concert-tickets-madison-square-garden/

In the examples used above, I would put up new content on the existing URL’s and not save the old content. However, there are some cases where you would want to save the content, as in my WordPress SEO plugins post, but that’s a decision you’re going to have to make for yourself based on your niche and whether the archived content has value. A third option is to put the new content on the old URL and move the old content on a new URL. It sounds complicated, but it’s really pretty easy. I go into more detail in keeping an editorial calendar in the new car model section.

Next you need to consider the implications of social media on your living URL strategy. If your blog auto tweets new posts, you’ll need to clear/reset the fields that control those actions. Next, you need to update the publish date, especially if you do any date-based sorting or displays or if you include the date in your XML site map. If your content has a link bait social bookmarking quality, you need to experiment with how the site you are targeting handles submitting the same URL. I suggest experimenting with someone else’s domain–not your own. I suggest that you try adding parameters or try camouflaging your intent with dummy parameters like “utm_source=rss”.

So what are the takeaways from this post:

  • Use predictive SEO and an editorial calendar to identify candidates for a living URL strategy.
  • Use the date in the title but avoid it in the URL.
  • Have a plan for archiving, relocating, or eliminating the old content.
  • Update the publish date and reset any autotweet fields.
  • Know how any social media sites handle resubmissions. Try using parameters as a workaround.

Originally published at Michael Gray Graywolf’s SEO Blog

Using Living URLs for Seasonal Content
About Michael Gray
Michael Gray is SEO specialist and publishes a Search Engine Industry blog at www.Wolf-Howl.com. He has over 10 years experience in website development and internet marketing, helping both small and large companies increase their search engine visibility, traffic, and sales. WebProNews Writer
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  • Depesh

    Thanks for the tip – we’ve considered whether to keep the year in the URL or not assuming it had more weighting. We run seasonal holiday deals so your guidance is in refreshing the content and keeping the URL – from our point of view, this works fantastically well especially due to the retained page authority but careful attention needs to be made around the keywords that were helping your ranking in the first place (ie not reducing the impact of these keywords when updating the content)

    also the site in question uses wordpress so whilst the page doesn’t have year the URL structure certiainly does so i’m assuming this isn’t great…