WordPress SEO: How to Create Living URL’s

If you watched any of the congressional hearings about the newspaper industry where Marissa Mayer testified one of the concepts she brought up is Living URL’s. Danny Sullivan has an excellent write up on it on Search Engine Land. The basic concept is a story lives at a single URL and gets added to/edited/updated over time (the way wikipedia articles currently do). I took a stab at how to get from here to there in the comments, but after putting a little more thought behind it I’ve got another idea.

A word of warning this is an experiment in progress and should not be taken as solid, tested, or proven SEO best practices, your mileage may vary and if something breaks or goes haywire you have been warned.

OK so part of the problem is google news needs/wants a unique URL for each news story, especially if the facts have changed significantly that a new version of the story has to be written, which let’s be honest is the way a lot of news is reported/done. However this is in direct opposition to the “living URL” concept, so what I’m trying to accomplish is a workaround that is somewhat stable, and fits both conditions.

  • Publish a story under a unique URL
  • As the content becomes “aged” move it to “living URL”
  • If new content need to be created repeat leaving the old/historical post in tact

If you’ll notice one of my goals isn’t to update the page, but just relocate and add the new content as needed. IMHO rewriting every time new data become available just ins’t workable. You can see an example of this in place on the Survivor pages on wikipedia ( grasp the concept people don’t get distracted by the content)

I decided to experiment with one of my more popular posts, the one on wordpress SEO Plugins. The first post I did was in 2006, and it ranked in the top 3, however it became outdated, and people kept asking for a new version. Eventually in 2008 I wrote one.  However the older post had more links so it always ranked higher, so I put up a note saying this post was old go here (much like Danny’s California Wildfire’s post). It wasn’t elegant but it got the job done. When I was looking around for something to experiment with the living URL’s on my wordpress SEO plugins seemed to be the perfect test. So I took these to pages and combined the content in reversed chronological order :

http://graywolfseo.com/seo/seo-plugins-for-wordpress/
http://graywolfseo.com/seo/seo-plugins-for-wordpress-part-ii/

I put the combined content on a new page and set up 301 redirects to this page:

http://graywolfseo.com/seo-plugins-wordpress/

At the time this post was written the 301′s haven’t taken affect for [wordpress SEO plugins] as the old post still shows. The primary reason is a technical issue which is worth sharing. I use WP cache to keep things running smoothly here. While it has a setting to “clear the cache when you publish new posts” it doesn’t seem to be working properly with scheduled posts, which 90% of the posts here are. So I had the set up the 301′s but because I didn’t clear the cache googlebot was still getting the old versions and not the redirect, good to know.

So right now this remains an experiment in progress, but is a concept I think you should watch going forward.

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