WordPress Tip: Changing Your Permalink Structure Resets Your Facebook Like and Twitter Tweet Counts

Just wanted to pass along this tip to my fellow bloggers who are using the WordPress.org platform. Recently, I adjusted my permalink structure for better WordPress search engine optimization (SEO). My initial permalink structure looked like this:

http://www.socmedsean.com/year/month/date/articlename

So the URL to my blog article on developing a business blog strategy was:

http://www.socmedsean.com/2011/09/11/on-your-marks-get-set-blog-5-surefire-steps-to-starting-your-blog/

Notice that the URL has the full publication date before the article title, making the URL longer and adding a lot of unnecessary characters. To adjust this to be more visually appealing and to enhance my SEO, I wanted to adjust my permalink structure to look like this:

http://www.socmedsean.com/on-your-marks-get-set-blog-5-surefire-steps-to-starting-your-blog/

Notice that both URLs point to exactly the same article, but one is just a bit cleaner. Making the change was relatively simple:

  1. Open the WordPress admin console
  2. Click Settings –> Permalinks
  3. Choose the permalink structure that you desire
  4. Click Save Changes

As you can see in the image below, I chose to use a Custom permalink structure with just the post name after my domain name.

Wordpress allows you to choose a custom permalink structure to help you optimize Search Engine optimization

[Note: using the permalink structure that I have selected means I need to be careful not to name two articles the same thing, otherwise WordPress will append an additional numeric identifier to the article to distinguish between the two. Not the end of the world, but just something to be aware of.]

The update was instantaneous and WordPress immediately began serving my pages using the new permalink structure. The downside, however, is that Facebook and Twitter now treated every article as though the were brand new. This means that any Tweets and Facebook likes are no longer reflected in the button counts on my articles. This makes sense, because it keeps black hat bloggers from falsifying the popularity by gaming the number of likes/tweets it has received.

As an example, the article below is one of my most popular posts about the Dairy Queen and Edge shave gel commercials blatantly ripping off the Old Spice Guy campaign. Before the permalink change, this article had hundreds of likes and tweets. After the change, the counters reset. The end of the world? No. Because I’m confident in the quality of the content and that it will continue to be shared across social networks. For those who are “counter-conscious”, however, this might cause some distress, especially if your blog is a corporate blog and you are working to demonstrate value to execs who don’t understand the intricacies of the change.

One of my most popular posts lost all the Twitter tweets and Facebook likes because I changed permalink structure

So, be forewarned bloggers. If you’re going to change your permalink structure, be aware that Facebook and Twitter will treat your articles with new URLs as brand new articles and will reset that Tweet/Like counters.

Experienced this issue before? Have a solution or a workaround? I would love to hear about it in a comment!

–Sean

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