This post was most recently updated on March 13th, 2019
Your WordPress URL is a key SEO factor. But sometimes you may need to change it...
Has this ever happened to you?
You carefully choose the keyword for your blog post. You’re so confident that it’s a killer keyword that you include it in the slug (the wordpress URL) for your blog post:
But within days of going live you realize you underestimated the competition on that keyword. You’re on Page #5 of the search results and there’s no prospect of moving up.
At the same time you find a much better keyword, an alternative with much less competition.
You change the title of your blog post and you make a few adjustments in the body of the article to emphasise the new keyword.
Finally, you change the WordPress URL so that it now includes the new keyword.
And then you set up a re-direct so that any traffic to the previous WordPress URL will redirect to the new URL.
That’s all fine.
But what if you’ve already got shares and comments on the first version of the blog post?
If you change the WordPress URL, you’re going to lose both the shares and the comments.
That was the situation I found myself in a few days ago.
I had 18 shares and 6 comments. Not huge, admittedly. But I didn’t want to lose them.
So I did what I always do – I searched it up on Google.
And I found two solutions, one for the shares and one for the comments.
But in the process of implementing those two solutions, I stumbled upon a third solution that makes the whole process a little bit easier.
I’ll share that with you in a minute.
But first, the two solutions I found on Google.
Step One - Share Recovery (using Social Warfare Plugin)
This was my first lucky strike – the Social Warfare Plugin (SWP) allows you to recover shares from a previous WordPress URL.
And it just so happens that SWP is the share button I use on my site.
The ‘Share Recovery’ options are located under the ‘Advanced’ tab on the Social Warfare menu:
As you can see in the screen shots below, the SWP Share Recovery feature is mostly aimed at changes that affect your entire site, such as:
- changing your permalink structure or
- changing your connection protocol from ‘http’ to ‘https’
- changing domain name
If you want to recover shares from a specific URL (which is what I needed to do), you have to go into the Edit Page of the actual post itself.
In this example, I’m assuming you’ve edited the slug portion (shown in the rectangle below) of the original post so that it now contains your new keyword:
Next, at the top of the Edit Page, toggle the ‘screen options’ tab to display the screen options and check the box next to ‘Custom Fields’:
Then scroll down to the bottom of the Edit Page till you come to the ‘custom fields section’ where you’ll find a box titled ‘Add New Custom Field’:
Click on the ‘Enter new’ link.
Then enter ‘swp_recovery_url’ in the left field and enter the old URL in the right field:
Then click the ‘Add Custom Field’ button and then update the post or page.
Your shares will now be transferred to the new post or page.
You can find full instructions on how to do this below:
Step Two - Comment Recovery (using Tako Movable Comments plugin)
Next I discovered that there are at least two plugins for transferring comments from one WordPress URL to another (confirming my belief that there’s a WordPress plugin for virtually anything you want to do).
First, download the (free) Tako Movable Comments Plugin.
Once installed and activated, go to the ‘Comments’ item in the left-side menu of the WP dashboard:
Find a comment that you want to transfer to a new page and click ‘Edit’:
Mouse-over in the area beneath the comment until the menu of options appears and then click on ‘Edit’:
On the next screen, scroll down until you see the ‘Move Comments with Tako’ box:
Start typing the title of your new (replacement) post until the full title appears as a link.
Click on that link to select that post.
Then click ‘Update’:
And that’s it!
Repeat the above process for all the comments that you want to transfer to the new version of the blog post (i.e. the version with the changed URL).
A Simpler Solution
This is the hack that I stumbled upon:
It so happens that I have a WordPress plugin called Duplicate Post.
I haven’t used it for a long time. And to be honest with you, I’ve forgotten why I even have it.
But I was about to do some fairly tricky things. And it occurred to me that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to make a copy of the original post.
That way, if it all went pear-shaped, I could go back to where I was at the beginning.
Now Duplicate Post, once activated, inserts a small link under the title of each post that says ‘Clone’:
So I clicked on that and made an exact copy of the original post. If it all went haywire, I could simply revert to the cloned copy of the blog post.
What I immediately realized is that the cloned copy had all the social media shares of the original post. So ‘Step One’ (Share Recovery) was now completely unnecessary.
However, the comments were missing, so I still had to go through Step Two (Comments Recovery).
So there you have it!
A not-too-difficult solution for transferring shares and comments to a new version of a blog post, when you change the WordPress URL of a post or page.
I hope it helps!