SEO 101: URL Permanence

TLDR: If you create repeating, date-based content on your site, like an annual “best of” list or buyer’s guide, use the same URL every year. Archive previous years to date-based URLs. That’s URL permanence. You’ll get more SEO bang for your buck.

I’m pretty sure Rand Fishkin taught me this one, way back. Credit where credit is due.

The full explanation, which is a heck of a lot more helpful:

Say you sell capybara food. You can sell more food if the world knows you’re the world’s authority on capybara (I can dream).

That will help you grab rankings and maybe a few Interesting Finds and similar features.

So, you create an annual piece about the best capybara. Great so far.

But each year, you publish at a new, year-based URL:

mysite.com/best-capybara-guide–2020
mysite.com/best-capybara-guide–2021
mysite.com/best-capybara-guide–2022

You’re killing your SEO.

You’ll be more competitive for “best capybara” and capybara guide-type content if you:

  • Send all your external link authority to a single page optimized for “best capybara”
  • Link to a single “hub” page from every other page on your site, using your target phrase as your anchor text (hint: When choosing anchor text, use the blank sheet of paper test)

If you publish each year’s report at a different URL, you:

  • Spread external link authority across each year’s report
  • Spread internal links across each year’s guide, instead of concentrating it at one URL

Not good.

The fix is easy. Have a single, non-dated URL for the current year’s report:

mysite.com/best-capybara-guide

Each year, archive the previous year’s report to a date-based URL:

Image: Capybara Guide 2021 with a non-date-specific URL

Capybara Guide 2021 with a non-date-specific URL. 2020 is archived to a date-specific URL.

Keep archiving every year:

Image: Capybara Guide 2021 with a non-date-specific URL. 2020 is archived to a date-specific URL.

Capybara Guide 2023. All previous years are archived. Major hub created. Neat!

That:

  • Gives users access to previous editions, which is a great experience
  • Lets you promote a single URL for the current year, every year
  • Lets you link to the same page within your site
  • Builds a hub using the reports themselves

I could blab on about this for another 1000 words, but I won’t. Post questions in the comments, or fire off a tweet to @ianlurie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.