4.03.2010

How to determine your Blogger post URL in advance

UPDATE! Blogger now allows users to view and edit their permalinks. See this updated post for more information and a how-to.

Dionna of Code Name: Mama and I are writing a few blogging tutorials of particular use for our Carnival of Natural Parenting participants. This one will help in determining your post URL in advance!

Here's a little tutorial on how to determine your post's link in Blogger (Blogspot) before you've published a post. This is useful if you want to figure out ahead of time what your URL will be once you've published. There's also a trick to choosing your own post URL, which I will share at the end.

(Note to my Carnival friends: You do not have to do this; it's just a how-to in case you want to — for instance, if you'll be busy on the morning of the Carnival and want to get sending us the post URL taken care of in advance.)

Let's take a look at how this works.

The title of this post is "How to determine your Blogger post URL in advance," but here's the post URL:
http://www.laurenwayne.com/2010/04/determine-blogger-post-url-in-advance.html

The post URL is the address of the specific post. It's what shows up in the address bar at the top of your browser when you've clicked on a post's title in a blog (not just on the blog's homepage, or the URL would look just like: http://www.laurenwayne.com).

In some blogging platforms, you can view your post URL in advance and edit it to be what you want. In Blogger so far, nuh-uh. It seems to be a change that's a-coming, but till then — we have to make do.

What you have to understand is the rules behind how Blogger creates the URL. Then you can:
  • know what your URL will be ahead of time
  • actually choose what your URL will be, if you so desire (say, to increase SEO)

How Blogger determines your URL


Blogger takes whatever you type into the Title box at the top of your post and creates the URL from that.

Your URL will have these parts:
http://[blog URL]/[year]/[month as two digits]/[post title up to 39 characters].html

See the parts again here:
http://www.laurenwayne.com/2010/04/determine-blogger-post-url-in-advance.html
http://[blog URL = www.laurenwayne.com]/2010 [year]/04 [month]/determine-blogger-post-url-in-advance [37 characters, including the hyphens] .html

Here is an online character counter to help you determine how many characters your title is:
http://www.javascriptkit.com/script/script2/charcount.shtml

Blogger's URL rules:

  • Blogger takes up to the first 39 characters.
  • The 39 characters includes spaces, which it changes into hyphens.
  • Blogger ignores the words "the," "a," and "an."
  • Blogger ignores punctuation, such as colons, commas, or dashes. (Hyphens, however, are retained as hyphens.)
  • If 39 characters would cut into the middle of a word, Blogger stops before that word.
  • If you've used the exact title before in that month, Blogger will follow the same rules for the post title but then append an underscore and a two-digit number to the end of the duplicate, such as "_07" or "_20" to distinguish them. This doesn't come up a whole lot, but I wanted to mention it since sometimes it does. For instance, if you do a Wordless Wednesday every week with the title "Wordless Wednesday" alone, Blogger will add an underscore and two-digit identifier to the subsequent posts with that same title. The underscore and numbers can go over the 39-character limit. (You can see an example here, from a post I double-imported by accident, but that's a tutorial for another day...)
So here are a couple other samples of how Blogger would create a post URL:
  • The post title of "How to determine your post URL in Blogger" would become http://www.laurenwayne.com/2010/04/how-to-determine-your-post-url-in.html (The word "Blogger" makes it 41 characters, so the URL would stop beforehand.)
  • A post title of "The way to determine your Blogger post URL in advance" from November 2008 at laurenwayne.blogspot.com would become http://www.laurenwayne.blogspot.com/2008/11/way-to-determine-your-blogger-post-url.html ("The" is dropped, and "in advance" is over the character limit.)

(If you are a Carnival participant and just wanted to know how to determine your post URL in advance, you can stop here. Whatever title you've chosen, just count the number of characters, including spaces but leaving out "the" and "a," and stop when you get to 39. Then cobble together the other elements of the post URL, and you can email that to us. Again, you don't have to do this. I know it's complicated and messy, so don't feel obligated to figure it all out. I'm only putting the information out there in case you want to for your own reasons.)

Now, for anyone who likes this sort of thing — if you want a different post URL from your post title, as I have? Read on.

Choosing your own URL

Now, you'll note that the title of my post: "How to determine your Blogger post URL in advance" doesn't match my post URL: http://www.laurenwayne.com/2010/04/determine-blogger-post-url-in-advance.html

That's because I've chosen to optimize my post title in this case to make it more attractive to search engines. (Or so I think...)

If I had let Blogger auto-create the post URL from my preferred title, it would have been http://www.laurenwayne.com/2010/04/how-to-determine-your-blogger-post-url.html and I would have lost the "in advance" part. I decided that was more important than the "how to" or the "your."

To force Blogger to create the URL I want, I follow this process:

  1. I figure out what the best use of my 39 characters would be.
  2. I put those 39 characters into my post title box: Determine Blogger post URL in advance
  3. I publish the post and check that the URL worked as I'd hoped. (Cross your fingers!)
  4. If all is well, I quickly go back in to the edit the post and change the title to my preferred title: How to determine your Blogger post URL in advance
  5. I hit Publish again, and now I have the right title and my preferred URL.

Downsides of creating your own URL that doesn't match the post title?

You have to go back in and change the title to be what you want it, tout de suite.

Regardless, anyone who's signed up for an email subscription will automatically receive the "wrong" title. People who access your blog in readers or through your website will see the updated title as soon as you correct it. I like to put the correct title at the top of the post, both for ease in grabbing it to paste into the title box quickly, and so that email readers will get the right title somewhere.

If you have an automated service that, say, Tweets your RSS feed whenever something posts, it will likely also grab the wrong title unless you are really fast at updating the title.

So it's a little messy, but that's the price you pay (for Blogger's shortsightedness...). Let's hope Blogger will eventually catch up on this issue and let us view and edit our post URLs in a much more streamlined fashion!

(I read somewhere that it's supposed to be a feature of Blogger in Draft right now, but it's not working for me, and I've been working in Draft view for months. Sigh...)

20 comments:

Rachel said...

What browser do you use? I use Chrome for almost everything, but have found that some features in (Google property) Blogger do not work properly in (Google property) Chrome. Go figure.

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

Well, see, I have this problem. I like to leave browser windows open to remind me to do things or read things or write about things. After awhile, my poor browser starts dragging, even if I restart it (with my saved windows), so I switch to a less clogged browser until it, too, becomes clogged — and then I switch to another with old saved windows that I no longer feel so precious about and close ruthlessly and now I finally have a clean browser to use — for half a day. And the cycle continues. Yes, I'm a browser window hoarder.

Sooo...I've tried Blogger on Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera. And I'm on a Mac. I don't know if there's any luck with editing URLs on IE on a PC or not. I saw the rumor that Blogger in Draft included the feature on a bulleted list but then could find no details anywhere, and could find no one blogging about how it didn't include the feature (or did). And now I can't find even the bulleted list. Maybe I dreamt it...

To lengthen this comment even more, I so agree with you about Google properties not playing well with other Google properties. What's up with that? I cannot remember what it was, but there was something recently where I was screaming at my computer: "But you're BOTH made by Google! WORK!!"

Bethany from Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom said...

Fabulous post! Thanks for the great how-to. I've been wondering how to do this. Of course, now I have to go try it, but that's a different story!!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Thanks for this! I've tried this in the past but realize now I've left some steps out. Your description is very user friendly.

Blacktating said...

Lauren, couldn't you also hit publish, copy and paste the URL and then go back into your dash board and save the post as draft? My guess is the bad part about this is that it would go out to your email subscribers and if they tried to access a post, they'd get an error.

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

Blacktating: Yes, you definitely can. But as you mentioned, it will go out to your email subscribers as the unfinished/pre-scheduled draft, AND I've seen it go into Google Reader subscriptions, too, and stick there — as in, not disappear when it's reverted to draft. So I prefer not risking the early publishing.

One other option? Have a private test blog and publish a post with that title (and in the correct month). Then copy the URL but change the website name. So, if your test blog URL is
http://myblogtest.blogspot.com/2010/10/this-is-my-post.html
Then you'd switch out the name of the site but leave the rest:
http://www.myblog.com/2010/10/this-is-my-post.html
That might be easier than figuring out the URL, although you do have to know how to set up a private blog…

Jenny said...

i love this post lauren!! i keep coming back to this and have bookmarked it! excellent step by step instructions! :D

J said...

Thank you sooo much for this post!! Lifesaver for participating in blog parties!

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

I'm so glad it's helping you! They do make it tricky for us Blogger folks, don't they? :)

Mickey said...

Lauren,

Thanks a bunch for this post! I have used it a ton in a carnival that I am part of, and have passed on your tips to those in the carnival so that they can use it too if they like. I linked to your post in my comments about it. One thing I did find out is that "an" is another word that Blogger ignores. Thanks again!

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

Mickey: Glad to hear it's a good resource for you! Thanks for the addition of "an" — you're right of course, and I've popped that into the list.

Annabel Joseph said...

Thanks so much for posting this! Totally answered the question for me and solved a problem. (had a featured author who wanted a permalink for a newsletter she was scheduling in advance.)

Kyle and Svet Keeton said...

Thank you very much! That is the best tutorial I've ever seen!

MaxTell said...

Lauren, thank you ever so much. It took my slow head about an hour to figure out how to create the link properly, but - with your help - I finally know how to link to other posts in my blog. Now to figure out how to link within a page so that I may have a Table of Contents. Thank you again.

max

a.eye said...

Thanks for the info. I have accidentally posted before putting in the title and was stuck with annoying, nonsensical post titles based on my first line of the post. I'll consider the alternate title and then the switch to make it better for searches.

will said...

You could also write the special title, then write the rest of the post, then publish it.

After that, go back and change the title. Your subscribers would be able to start reading your post while you're editing the title.

Rhe Christine said...

Thank you!

Foodie Stuntman said...

This information is useful. Thank you for sharing!

Lorie K said...

In the new blogger interface, you can click on Permalink on the right and it will give you the url of the post.

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

Thanks, Lorie! I knew I needed to write an update based on the new interface — thanks for the nudge. So happy Blogger's finally made it easy!

Here's the new article: How to find (or change) your permalink in Blogger {updated}

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