Let’s say your blog is full of really useful interesting content pertaining to everyday affairs like politics. And some event happens today that you want to address. Only to realize that you already have a few years ago. Not the same situation of course, but the essence is the same. It’s the same issue. The same principle. There’s no point in essentially re-writing what you already did years ago.
At the same time, you can’t just promote your old post on social media all over again. For one, it might contain outdated information and refer to events that others might not remember. You want it to be relevant to today’s events. Ideally, you’d be able to make a few changes and simply republish the post right? Well, that might cause a few URL related problems.
Permalinks with the Date Included
WordPress recommends that you create a permalink structure with some reference to the date. The logic is that this increases efficiency when it comes to searching through hundreds of URLs. As a result, your permalink structure might be setup something like this:
In the above screenshot, your URL includes the month and year. So let’s say we have a really old post that we published years ago. Like so:
Changing the Publication Date to the Current Date
If you want to republish your old article so that it shows up on the front page, you have to change the date of publication. This is easy enough. Simple edit your old post and make your content changes. On the right hand side, there’s a section called “Publish”. We need to change the “Published on” line by clicking “Edit”. Now change the publication date to today’s date instead:
Click “OK”, then “Update”, and you’re done. If you look, you can see that the permalink on top of the editor has been changed. The post is now accessible using the URL with today’s month and year:
Moreover, it’s now visible on the front page of your blog. Just as if you’d published it today.
Avoiding 404 “Not Found” Errors
So far so good. You’ve repurposed and republished an older blog post, made it relevant for today’s content and served it up to your readers with an updated URL. There’s just one problem – the previous URL is now broken.
Since we changed the URL of the post to reflect today’s month and year, the old one no longer exists. This is a huge problem. Old links won’t work and what might be worse, any ranking accumulated for that page will vanish, thereby hurting your site’s reputation in the search engines. This is obviously unacceptable.
Luckily, we have a way to change the URL and redirect the older URLs to the new one, which still maintaining “Link Juice”. This is called a 301 redirect.
Using 301 Redirects with WordPress URLs
For 301 redirects, you can either use a plugin or edit your .htaccess file directly. The latter is faster, but a bit more difficult. If you choose to go the plugin route, simply download and install a functional plugin like Simple 301 Redirects. After installation, look under “Settings” to find the options. Then, enter the old URL on the left and the new one on the right like this:
Save your changes, and try and access the old URL. If everything works, it should redirect to the new URL using a 301 redirect.
The other option is to directly modify your .htaccess files using the following lines:
# Redirecting old URLs to new ones Redirect 301 [old url] [new url]
Make sure you take a backup of .htaccess in case something goes wrong. This can potentially be pretty dangerous! If you’re not comfortable messing around with htaccess files, simply opt for the plugin instead.