As an example, a permalink including the date would look like this:
A permalink not including the date would look like this:
Importantly, changing your permalinks after you’ve started publishing is not recommended because all links using your old structure will break. For this reason, it’s worth carefully considering whether or not to include dates in your permalinks before you start publishing content to your new site.
Old and Stale, or Evergreen?
If your content is evergreen, including its publication date in the permalink might cause problems once it’s been around for a while. People might think it’s old and stale when it’s actually not. When they see an old date in the permalink, they’ll decide against clicking the link onto your site – and you’ll lose visitors.
If you think people don’t pay attention to permalinks, remember that including a date in your permalink can also cause search engines like Google to add a timestamp to your content in search results, like the one below. You might be right that people won’t pay much attention the permalink, but they are likely to pay attention to a date that’s displayed prominently in the listing.
Based on that, if you’re publishing evergreen content, it might be a good idea to not include dates in your permalinks.
It’s Not Just the Permalink
Even if you do decide not to dates from your permalinks, remember that Google is very smart. The permalink isn’t the only way it can work out the publication date. If the date is displayed within the content itself, or even on comments that your audience members have left on your content, it will use those dates to create the timestamp.
You can avoid these timestamps by removing the dates from your content and from your comments.
Posts vs Pages
It’s worth noting that permalinks for Pages in WordPress never include the date – only those for Posts do. In most WordPress themes, Pages also do not display the date within the content.
There’s a good reason for this. Pages are the intended place for evergreen content, while Posts are really meant to be used for content that becomes less relevant over time, like news.
The simple solution, then, is to just use Pages for your evergreen content and leave Posts for your news content, and you won’t need to worry about removing dates from your permalinks. But then again, it’s up to you how to run your site, and you might have a good reason to be using Posts for evergreen content.
We already established that for evergreen content, including dates in the permalinks can unnecessarily make your content look less appealing. What about content that’s not evergreen and does get less relevant over time?
First of all, there’s definitely still a place for news content, so don’t give up on publishing it altogether. But should you try to omit the dates anyway, or do you just live with the reality that it’ll get fewer clicks over time?
No, and not necessarily.
If the publication date is significant to your content, then hiding it from your audience is dishonest and not recommended. However, you could consider omitting the date from the permalink but displaying it within the content itself. That way, you’ll still get the initial click onto your site, and if your visitor does decide the content is too old, at least they’re already on your site and they might move on to look at some of your newer content.
For evergreen content, including the date in the permalink is mostly detrimental. For news content, it’s important to display the date, but the permalink isn’t the only place to do that.
Finally, don’t overlook the obvious. A permalink without a date is shorter, cleaner and easier to remember than a permalink with a date.
For all these reasons, my preference is to not include dates in permalinks. But at the end of the day, it’s up to you and about what works best for your site. Share your thoughts in the comments, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.