JoyHawkins

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I work with a bunch of attorneys that have some really awesome old articles that get a lot of organic traffic (hundreds of visits a month). Some of the articles were written 3-5 years ago (or longer) and are just plain text. I wanted to update the article by adding more to it, making it more of a list form etc. The other thing I wanted to do is update the publish date (so it looks current and not dated) and also update the URL since it's ridiculously long.

My fear is that updating the URL will result in a ranking drop. Currently it's something like this: domain.com/2011/03/super-long-title-that-goes-on-and-on-and-on

I wanted to remove the date from the title and shorten the URL a bit.

Does anyone have experience with this? Does updating the URL mess anything up? Obviously I know I have to redirect the old one.
 

DanLeibson

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I think that all sounds great except changing the URL. Redoing URL's to make them "more SEO friendly" is usually a net loss for a site, what you gain with the friendly URL you lose more then that in lost link equity and other previous associations. 301 redirects don't pass 100% of that on. Since they are already performing well it seems unnecessary.
 

JoyHawkins

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Thanks Dan! I figured as much but definitely wanted to get some other opinions.

I also reached out to a few people on Twitter & email and this was the responses:

Gyi Tsakalakis - "We have done this and sometimes it drops. If content could use an update, just update content and pub date"

Damon Gochneaur - "Agreed, best bet is not touching URL, updating content & publish date"

Mike Ramsey - "Updating content and date has worked...Switching URL is tricky. Winners and losers shorterm"

Dat To (Powered by Search): "I wouldn't create a new URL because if you 301 redirect this URL to new equivalent, then you will lose up to 10% of the link juice pointing to that page and same for authority of that page (if any)."
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks Joy, great Q!

And thanks for sharing all the Twitter comments too!
 

JoyHawkins

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Matt Green from Juris Digital also chimed in on Twitter and said he's had lots of success lately even with URL changes (no losses, only gains).

He said "I think the nature of the the other optimization changes plays a role in whether URL change is warranted. Also, I suggest adding new internal links to the new URL and updating old internal links to point at new URL."
 

Ben Bowen

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My sample size is small, since the only blog posts I update are my own...

But I have done both a quick update with no URL change, and ones where I change the URL. I have not seen traffic loss either way.
 

dmarks

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Maybe start with a small test of 3 and then evaluate after 30 days
 

DanLeibson

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Matt Green from Juris Digital also chimed in on Twitter and said he's had lots of success lately even with URL changes (no losses, only gains).

He said "I think the nature of the the other optimization changes plays a role in whether URL change is warranted. Also, I suggest adding new internal links to the new URL and updating old internal links to point at new URL."

Consider me skeptical ;) Although changing a URL that is underperforming vs. one that is performing well isn't the same in terms of the effects.
 
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alakov

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I guess, it's similar to moving a website to a new domain in a sense. From what I've seen, you usually are looking to lose rankings and traffic at the beginning for almost everything that's moved, but it might all come back if google still thinks the pages are relevant after awhile, sometimes a long while, and sometimes never.
 

Steve Conrad

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Maybe start with a small test of 3 and then evaluate after 30 days

I would do the same. Pick the most performing articles and update it.

You woun't need to change the publishing date, as the page will be reindexed after being renewed. Google loves this sort of updates.

Regarding your idea to change URLs, it's a big no-no, because you ruine all the page authority it has gained over years, including possible backlinks to it.
 

rmorgan

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We've had a lot of success reworking old blog posts and expanding them to include FAQs related to the topic, adding a button at the bottom for enticing conversions, and making the post more visual. We never repost the article, but instead just put "Updated:..." at the top of the post to show fresh content has been added. Google will recrawl it again regardless.

As for changing the URLs, I agree with most people who said to leave them alone unless you want to test a sample size. Because the title of the blog post is already in the URI structure, I don't see taking out the date from the subdirectory from helping very much.
 
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