When was the last time you analyzed your blog traffic to identify your most popular blog posts? How many of those posts are from last year or the year before last?
It’s not just about Google. The real readers of your blog, the humans also tend to be highly focused on what’s new. No matter how great your content is and how relevant it is — chances are, your readers will ignore it if they notice that it was published 3 years ago.
Don’t trust me?
Well, try bringing up one of your favorite blog posts from 3 years ago and highlight it on your homepage without changing its published date! Let’s see how much traffic you receive on that post.
Another good indicator could be the number of comments you receive on your older posts even though you might have a few people landing on those pages through search engines and your content is evergreen. Doesn’t it mean those published dates play a role somewhere?
Example Google Search With Blog Post Dates Displayed
Not because you don’t know about this or you haven’t tried. I performed this Google search with the term “Why You Should Start A Business” to show you how those dates impact click through rates in search results. Look at this:
I don’t know about you but, instinctively, I wanted to click on the post which was published on August 29, 2013 first. If it would not have been what I was looking for, I would have clicked on the post which was published on June 11, 2013.
The Forbes article in the search results will always receive less clicks, compared with the other two.
Two Schools Of Thought on Dating Your Blog Posts
There are bloggers who believe that we must promptly display the published date on our articles so that if the information we have shared is outdated, the reader will know; based on the date on the post.
This is just common sense, comes by default as soon as you set up your website, and I thought shows good intentions. I did this for a while as well.
It is true that most blog posts to not have evergreen content. And therefore it makes sense to let your readers know when you publish something so that they know how old the information is. That way, you don’t confuse or upset your readers and try to follow your instructions.
But, over a period of time, I decided to make some changes in the way I display my blog posts and my publish dates because good intentions alone cannot generate revenue.
The second school of thought is that there is no need to display publish dates on your blog posts unless you are a news website or you’re writing about technologies that change frequently and drastically. People like Derek Halpern of Social Triggers do not display any dates against anything on their blogs and their websites are really huge.
Companies like Copyblogger also removed dates from their posts last year. However, now I see that Copyblogger has put back their publish dates against their blog posts. So, perhaps they now realized that they need this back!
How I Display Dates On My Blog Posts
Some of my blogger friends think (and they even asked me why I don’t display dates on my posts) that I do not have dates on my posts.
But, that is not true. Every post on my blog is dated!
Back in 2010, when Michael Hyatt published his book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, he shared his experience with dates against his posts. You know that I follow the man because I know that he only teaches what he practices.
He said that because of this one little change in the way he displays his post dates on the page and the way he promotes his old posts, 30% to 40% off his entire web traffic comes to his old posts. That is an incredible achievement!
Can you imagine 40 out of hundred people who visit your website daily reading your posts from last year and from the year before? Check out his blog post about it here and learn more.
The idea is to not hide dates on the blog posts but to make it difficult for ignorant readers who want to decide the worth of my content based on date. Interestingly, it works! It works for Michael Hyatt and it also works for me!
On my blog, the date is displayed in the meta section of the post below the content instead of the default location around the title as this screenshot shows:
Home Page – Date At The End Of The Teaser
Single Posts – Date At The End Of The Post
I Don’t Display Dates For Comments
Because I do not see any value comment dates add to the comments, I chose not to display them. It adds to the size of my pages and if it will do anything, it will only stop people from commenting since the last comment on the post seems to be old.
I have never received any complaints regarding comment dates, and so, I received comments on posts I published in 2010. I think I’m going to keep it that way.
I Update My Content To Keep It Current
I know that I have published a few guides and I continue to write technical posts with regard to website design, security aspects of WordPress, and some tools from time to time.
Those posts need to be current to be relevant and, therefore, as soon as I realize that a post needs to be updated, I go back to it to update it.
Sometimes, I receive an email from my readers and then I go back to update it. The point is, I try my best to keep my content relevant.
Blog Published Date Is A Bad Indicator
Now, you might say that you keep your content current as well. Well, that’s great! And that is why you need to know what I am about to share.
Unfortunately, WordPress by default displays published dates against our posts (and most themes are coded that way too.)
That means, for a WordPress setup guide that you wrote in 2011 will still appear as published in 2011 even though you have consistently kept the post up to date. Even though your post talks about WordPress 3.9.2, Google shows that this article was published in 2011.
That is bad for your readership, right?
Use Last Updated Date Instead On Your Posts
That is why I do not display publish date on my blog posts. Instead, I got my WordPress theme customized to display last updated date on my blog posts.
Did you notice (in above screenshots) that my meta section says “Updated On” instead of saying “Published On”?
With this one little modification, my pages not only become relevant because last updated date is displayed, Google searches will also display last updated dates against my posts since the sitemap also reflects last updated date against my posts.
If you are good with PHP, you can modify your loop.php and single.php theme files to make use of ” the_modified_time” function instead of “the_time” and it will do the magic.
However, since every theme is coded a little differently, I do not want to give you a piece of code and have you assume that you can just copy it and add it to your theme. If you like this idea and if you are not comfortable with PHP and WordPress coding, get in touch with your developer and get it done.
For all Krishna World Wide hosting clients, this service is free. If your websites are hosted on KWWHost servers, please send an email indicating that you wish to make this change on your website and we will get this done for you FREE of charge!
Over To You – Share Your Thoughts And Experience
How do you handle (or balance) displaying of blog post dates with retaining your visitors and increasing traffic to your old blog posts?
If you use any strategy which is working for you and you like to share, please add value and let me know what are you doing and how are you doing it. I am sure all my readers thank you for that.
If you do not have any special strategy around post dates, would you mind sharing how you drive traffic and reduce bounce rates on your old archived posts?
I look forward to your thoughts, experiences and any ideas that will add value to this post. Kindly add to the comments section.
Thank you kindly!
Interesting topic for discussion 🙂
Yes, there are two school of thoughts about this, just as you mentioned. I use to have the dates on my posts, right on top, but then I chose not to because they show as a tis on my main page and also in the comments, so that is alright. Also, because old posts stops visitors from commenting, just as you mentioned. Yes, if the post needs dates and is based on some stats or figures, you need the dates and it should be updated too. Moreover, most of my content is evergreen, thanks to the vast niche, so never had any issues with it because people can see it clearly.
I have never updated any old posts as yet, so don’t know how it works or how it should work as I don’t really like doing that – it works better for me to write new content as I am faster at it. 🙂 I think your way is fine too, though this particular one says ‘updated’ so it is an older post, but I see no comments here? While some of your earlier updated posts did have comments, so perhaps you can hide those too for showing up later? I wonder how it’s all done. I know Ana updates her old posts and her comments show up with the older dates, and the new folks can just add to the conversation.
Thanks for sharing. Have a nice rest of the week 🙂
No no! This is a new post 🙂 But because “Updated” is a fixed text, it shows the same word for new as well as the old posts. The only difference is the real date values. If I update this blog post tomorrow, the date will change to reflect tomorrow’s date. I like it better because I want to display the last time the blog was updated rather than published date which is one time thing and doesn’t reflect correctly when was this post touched upon last time.
Having evergreen content really helps. However, since you write about technical aspects of WordPress and sometimes SEO as well, you need to be cognizant of your dates as well. For example, your last post on Alexa will become obsolete in a few months/years 🙂
Ah…I thought as much, though why not have a publish date for the date it’s published, and updated for the time a old post is updated, if you can do that with your settings.
Yes, I agree with that, though the Alexa post was a personal case study, so those stats and figures would change daily, but the screen shots help there as they are related to and shown on that particular month, so I guess I am ok without updating it later too 🙂
Yeah, this is a hot topic and I didn’t think you dated your posts either. Let’s face it, who is looking for your date at the bottom by your tags? Not me!
I personally found this difficult for me since I didn’t see a date on the comments either because when responding to comments on my guest post here I didn’t know what date they had commented for me to reference.
Now you know I’ve written about this as well and I see your point about wanting to get more traffic and comments to older posts. So maybe most people are eager to read, learn and comment on older posts but if I’m searching for content on Google and I don’t see a date on it I ignore it and look for one that does. It might be what most people see as evergreen content or as you say you update your older posts and made them relevant, but if I can’t find a date easily on the post then I’m just not going to take my time reading something to find out.
If you’re updating your posts and making them relevant then why not put the date at the top? If it says updated post then why are you literally hiding it because I’m sure that if you asked your readers if they’d notice the day then the majority of them would probably say no.
That’s just my thought though and I understand that you’re learning this from someone you admire so I just hope that you’ve had a lot of luck with this. I’m keeping my dates just like they are and if I never get traffic to older post then oh well. I’m not going back and updating them anyway so I prefer them staying that way. I don’t want anyone coming to my blog and learning something from me that’s obviously outdated.
Enjoy your day and thanks again.
As you said, you look for dates when you search for posts and you ignore the ones that don’t have dates. That is the very reason the school of thought of “not putting dates at all” came.
Most people don’t just look for dates, they also look to decide whether they should visit the page or not based on the published date. This is the mentality bloggers need to deal with and especially those who write on subjects that are not time sensitive suffer. The solution is either to not show published dates at all or make it difficult enough for content scanners who hurt by increasing bounce rates because they decide to stay or leave because of date.
Now, I show my dates because I do write time sensitive stuff and therefore, I want to make sure my readers know when was the post relevant based on the published/updated date on the post. Those who pay attention, will find dates for sure and those who can’t pay attention to the details, don’t care anyway.
Most people keep the dates like you have and if that’s working for you, great. But I like to change things and try new stuff. I like to test theories that make sense and this is one of those things that seems to work because I can relate to this myself based on how I read content myself.
You have a wonderful rest of the week as well. Next week, I am excited to have results of our lucky draw in place and can’t wait to announce the winners!
Great insights Kumar. I prefer showing updated date as well and wrote a post on the topic. But this does not apply to all kind of websites. For instance I run a tech website (Tech Buzz Online) where along with tech tips I also publish tech news. In that case, it is only appropriate to show the published date of the posts – both for news and also for the tech tips (so much change with technology every day, even the tips become out dated quite soon :)).
Thanks for your insights on this topic.
I agree with you Jane! It’s not one size that fits all. Depending on the type of content and also based on your experience with your readers and analysis of your traffic, there can be slight adjustments in their approach and that’s all right.
The idea is that we have to realize that we are writing great content that we can produce for our readers every single time. Just because that post became older based on when it was published, it doesn’t deserve to die.
Especially, if you are somebody who keeps the information up-to-date, you will find it frustrating to see that people ignore your resourceful post for a more recently published article which may not have as much information as you have shared.
This is unfair I think and that is why I feel bad for the bloggers who think that they are obligated to show their publish dates no matter what.
My blog is my home on the Internet and I need to take care of my home and it’s health (SEO, traffic, bounce rates etc.) before I can try to please everybody who wants to drive by. If I get into the business of pleasing everybody who comes, I will be unhappy very soon with myself and my blog and my content.
Therefore, I chose to make the dates hard to find. That means, keen eyes will still find it while page scanners will be frustrated because they can’t find it easily. Well, if they are not sincere when they visit my home on the Internet, does it matter to me what they think?
I am glad to know that you also use updated dates at some places. Thank you for sharing about that!
Your post gives me a new way to think about publish dates. I also have been struggling with whether or not I should display publish dates on my posts. I think I might experiment with displaying post dates on the bottom.
Welcome to my blog and thank you for taking time to share your thoughts.
Well, I think that it is worth the experiment. Depending upon the demographics of your readers and also on the type of posts you write, your experience could be different than mine- maybe even better. So, I recommend that you give it a shot 🙂
Kumar- I actually tested it out. I did several months without a date and several months with the date and there was more comments left with the date. As for myself since most things in life are time sensitive, the date that was published is important to me. Information changes so rapidly that something that was posted in 2010 may not have any relevancy to what is happening today. Now if I take an old post that I feel is relevant today, using updated is a good idea and maybe just do that, update the blog.
Getting more comments while dates are displayed is great. However, that isn’t what I am intrested in. What I am curious to know is, “How many comments and visitors did your older posts get when you had dates versus when you didn’t?”
Everybody wants to comment on your latest posts and on my latest posts and they calculated that by looking at the published to date – easy. But, what I am more interested in is that I do not want my visitors to ignore my guides which I keep up to date just because it has an older published date.
Unfortunately, in my experience, no matter how relevant your last year’s post is today, people are going to ignore it and go for something which looks to be dated more recently as compared to yours.
Sometimes, older posts add more value and have more in depth information and compared with the latest posts. But, people instinctively happen to give more importance to published dates because of the perception that older posts are most probably outdated.
Now, as a blogger, only I know it my posts are outdated or the relevant and if I want to keep them current. Because I like to keep my posts current, I am forced to make my published dates as hard as possible to find although I don’t want to remove them.
That strategy has been working for me and to this day, I still get comments on some of my blog posts published back in 2012.
Why? Because the visitors find information relevant and because dates are not too much exposed, information causes them to comment. I am sure they would not comment you dates where obvious all over my page 🙂
Anyways, thank you very much for dropping by and sharing your experience with dates. I am sure we all have a little difference in preferences and that’s what makes blogging so interesting.
There’s sure a lot of conflicting thought on this topic, Kumar, and I guess your first suggestion to really watch your statistics carefully is the most important thing to do.
I actually have my blog hosted by Krishna World Wide, and it’s great to know I can change the functioning of my blog in this way at no charge, and without having the hassle of doing it myself. It’s another reason I’m so happy to have my main sites hosted by you.
As to the discussion of dating your posts, I guess I see things the way Adrienne does in her comment above. I almost never read posts that are undated (or have dates concealed) because I feel like they (1) may be out of date and (2) the author has something to hide by not dating it prominently. The fact that you are meticulous about updating your content doesn’t mean everyone is. In fact, I bet most people are not. I’d have no problem reading one of your posts because I know you. But not having dates clearly posted would certainly be a put off to reading a post from someone I don’t know. Even the “updated” wouldn’t persuade me, because anybody can just routinely update their posts, without really doing a thorough job of updating.
I actually think that, for me, I like to date my posts and if I want to update an old one, I’d just use it as the basis for an entirely new post on the same topic, with a current date of publication. I think that would be a good idea for people to do consistently because they are always developing fresh posts on evergreen topics, and when you actually rewrite an old post… you’re much more likely to make it current than if you just quickly tried to “update” an old post.
I’m also under the impression (correct me if I’m wrong, as I might well be) that Google re-ranks your posts when you update them. If that’s so, then updating a high ranking post that’s been around for a while, may result in it being ranked much lower for whatever reason. Again, I’m not sure about this, but it could be an SEO consideration.
As an aside, I even have my permalinks set to show the publication month/year. I don’t think too many people do this. Even if I wanted to change it, though, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be changing permalinks because all your old links would be effected (and end up on 404 pages… yickkk).
Finally, I’m really undecided about the dating of comments. I can see the advantage of having them undated, but still, my gut tells me to just keep the dates visible because I always like to err on the side of transparency.
Thanks for raising this topic, Kumar. It’s one that all bloggers need to consider carefully, and decide for themselves.
Regarding the personal preference of how Adrienne, yourself or I prefer to choose which posts we read, I prefer to think it this way:
My blog posts are for everybody and I want to keep things on my site in a way that will attract more visitors to my site and also reduce my bounce rates.
It’s just like people’s individual preferences with regard to pop-ups. Some people don’t put pop-ups on their website because they personally don’t like it. However, the same people click 2 or 3 times to close 2 or more popups on websites like quicksprout.com or socialtriggeres.com and still stay there to consume content there. That is why these sites like these have you email list while others who don’t like pop-ups, keep struggling to grow their list.
What it means is that your blog’s success depends more on how masses is think and how masses treat your blog as opposed to your personal preferences.
As much as I would like to promptly tell people when I published my post, when I updated my post and way more information contact, I don’t do that and I don’t want to do that because some of the top marketers I know have analyzed through their experience and I don’t want to reinvent the wheel one more time. So, I just follow people like Michael Hyatt who I tremendously respect.
Regarding Google’s free-ranking situation, Google at dramatically pushes older content backwards anyway. Everybody knows Google also likes fresh content. So, not updating old content might hurt rankings of an older posts more than if they re-ranked because of an update. So, I recommend that logically, it makes sense to keep our content up to date so we don’t have to write on the same topic over and over and over just to keep churning new blog posts.
Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and preferences. I appreciate the fact that we all things slightly differently. However, from a marketing standpoint, I think that I need to think how readers think and strategize my content marketing based on that. We all need to do that and I am sure this don’t your reader demographics, you are doing what is best for your blog.
I just wanted to clarify why I do things the way I do because a lot of people were thinking that you I don’t have dates on my posts or why don’t I display right below the title. I hope this clarifies that aspect 🙂
I found a new stuff every time i visit your blog.:)
It’s a great thing to think up on as why bloggers enable dates of the blog posts? What’s the reason?
In my opinion the main reason is to make my readers aware that content is not old so that they can learn freely. As you have shown in your screenshots about a particular search people will not prefer to red the post which was posted in 2011. Readers try to get latest posts because with the time technology changes and ways of blogging are also changing.
I never noticed the dates you shown in your meta tag section. The way you show your blog posts dates is really impressive. It gives us a benefits as when we need to update our post the blog post date will be updated.
Thanks for sharing.:)
Have a successful week.:)
Thank you for stopping by and the words of appreciation. You are right. People to click on blog posts based on dates and just because that’s the way most people think, I needed to get just the way I display dates on my blogs.
If my content is fresh I don’t want to display it like an old post even though it was first published in 2011. I want Google to show viewers that this post was updated this year and so it might be relevant. This technique drives traffic to my old posts and also brings new comments which helps a little too.
You have a wonderful new week.
First of all, nice post..
Thanks for writing this post, it helped me to solve my problem.. I usually write about WordPress themes & plugins on my blog and you know that many new WordPress themes & plugin releases every month for different categories, so I have to add them in my blog post..
When users search their desired theme using Google, my blog shows post date to them and sometimes, If I forgot to update some of my blog post, the users go to other blog. So, I was planning to remove dates but after reading this article, I will try to add fresh content on a daily basis and update my old post asap.
But, I will remove comment date due to one reasons, whenever I Update my old post, the post will change but comments date not, which gives negative impression..
Again, Thanks for the reminding me about this … Have a nice day
That’s right Himanshu. If you are republishing your old posts again, removing dates on comments is a very logical decision. It is better you removed dates from there and keep it only for posts.
I am glad that I was able to clarify a few things for you. Thank you very much for dropping by and the letting me know that you enjoyed this post.
I look forward to hearing from you more.
Great and intriguing title – had to check it out. 🙂
Very interesting concept. I definitely do want to see some sort of date on the article for me to have a reference. I often times read older material, so it does not deter me from consuming content.
It is, in my opinion, respectful to show a date, and it doesn’t matter to me one bit where it is.
Yes, I agree that adding “last updated” is a great idea, but this would be my preference:
Published date AND a last updated date. I suppose this could also be custom coded.
I wonder, however about SEO ramifications to the older blog posts publication dates for that content losing any kind of status. Would be worth checking into.
Thanks for the thought-provoking content! I hope you have a relaxing weekend.
– Carol 🙂
I am not sure if I have seen any blog having published date and updated dates both. It may not be a good idea because these dates have to be reflected in site map files as well and the I am not sure how much of a custom coding we can do to also include this concept in our site maps so Google and being can correctly pick up the dates.
Therefore, I would rather keep only one date which seems to be industry-standard. I just keep the dates which makes the most sense to me and to my readers.
Removing dates from posts completely is not only a bad idea from an ethical standpoint that some people argue about (which I disagree because nobody complains why Wikipedia doesn’t have dates on their pages,) but also not a good SEO practice. Google Rich Snippets require published dates on our posts and therefore, I would recommend including postdate somewhere and try it properly so Google can recognize that.
But then, there are many popular websites who do not publish any dates and yet they are ranked pretty high on Google. So, I guess it’s a matter of marketing strategy that we all need to consciously make for our blogs.
You have a successful new week!
Interesting article and an interesting idea to have the date in the meta tags only – and to have the date the article was last updated.
If I had the option to do that easily, I might be tempted to do it, especially if it could be done selectively on a post-by-post basis.
I look at dates as a signal. I mentally scratch my head when there is no date and then I judge by the title of the article.
The more exactly it meets my question and the better it is phrased, the more likely I am to click to see it.
In a choice between a recently-dated article and one that has no date but is better phrased. I’d probably click both.
Personally, I also click on posts based on similar preferences. If the title is good and geared towards giving the information I’m looking for, I tend to click on such posts depending on what kind of searches I am making.
For example, if I am looking for some news, I would prefer to click on links based on dates than the title. However, if I’m looking for a political information or solution to a mathematical problem, I don’t care what the date is I will click if the title is interesting.
So I guess that I am with you on that. Thank you for dropping by and sharing to add value. You have a wonderful new week.
Read another article on your site and noticed this one about dating posts
when I went scrolling around.
On my blog, if I update a post I will sometimes edit the published date to the date of the new content added.
Don;t know how all this pans out, but on my blog there is no date at the top or bottom of the post…but where posts are listed in a navigation widget on the side bar…date is front and
center and…all comments show a date.
Seems rather hit and miss to me. Have no idea how it ended up that way???
Inexperience and not knowing or planning what you are doing?
Now to figure out how to remove that pop up from every page and post!
Thank you for the share…though provoking…something to consider!
Great.. never realized this aspect of blog published date but it is so true that as a human we have tendency to click and read something which is more recent and latest rather than an older stuff.
Hi Kumar, like Adrienne rightly said, Yeah, this is a hot topic and I didn’t think you dated your posts either. Let’s face it, who is looking for your date at the bottom by your tags? Not me!
AND NOT ME TOO!!!
I once experimented with removing dates altogether but with time, I noticed no difference neither did my readers engage better with older posts.
Accordingly, I switched to showing the ‘last updated’ info (instead of published date). This was truly great and the theme I was using at the time rendered it perfectly. However, when I changed themes, I had no option but to let even that go!
So, I’m essentially back at starting point again. Not because I prefer it, but because, for me, I have really not noticed any significant change in traffic since almost all my entries aren’t time sensitive.
Make the day great!
This code works excellently for all themes and renders the published date in a ‘last updated fashion’. It is supposed inserted in the post meta data section of single.php:
Last updated on <time datetime="”>
I definitely like the idea of putting the date at the end of the post. Your reasoning is very sound and it actually makes a lot of sense. I’d love to do this, however, I’m not good at modifying those files and I’d be afraid that I would mess something up.
I’m definitely one that judges an article on it’s date. Although some things may still be relevant, something say like ‘the signs of a heart attack’ will never change, most topics are ever changing, particularly for technology.
I’ll have to look into it. Right now I have dated articles at the front of the post. Need to look into changing it. Thanks for the insight.
Great post and topic. I’m a big believer in displaying dates on posts. It gets frustrating when I go to a blog and I don’t know WHEN the post was published and then when I look in the comments to see what year the first few comments were left, there’s no dates displayed on the comments either.
Now, the technique you use is very interesting. I understand the logic and I can see that actually being effective. Perhaps I may have to test that out myself.
I’m not going to mess with the coding, if I do decide to do it, I’ll get a professional but it’s something that’s very interesting.
“Because I do not see any value comment dates add to the comments, I chose not to display them. It adds to the size of my pages and if it will do anything, it will only stop people from commenting since the last comment on the post seems to be old.”
While I find no dates on comments frustrating, I understand why it would make no sense to do that if you’re implementing this technique.
Like I said, I’ll have to test it out myself and see on another site I operate.
Thanks for this and hope you have a great weekend.
Another Interested Topic,
You are right, Sir
Actually I also have New Year Wishes Sites.
This post is very helpful for me because previous year I published post about New Year Wishes 2014 and when I will just change my title post and date will be old then this will be bad for my blog. So Now I follow this post and hope this post will help me a lot
Any way Thanks Gauraw sir.
You are very welcome Areesha! I am sure you are doing the right thing if you are following the approach!
By the way, I have a new year post too 🙂
Ah, I get in now.
Before I read this i just randomly post my article without setting the date.
Now I know why much blogger setting date post.
These is lovely post, i never thought of that but i believe is a good ideal to show updated than to show date on blog post.
I will have to changed that at my blog.