I don’t know about you, but I’d been wondering whether to publish post dates since forever… until yesterday.
About a year ago I started thinking about it and have been searching the internet since, every once in a while. No one writes about this topic (I found one article, but did not really believe the guy) and yesterday I decided to make the switch and see what happens.
Well, I’m glad I did… turns out Google prefers articles without dates, or updated versions, which is why the ‘last updated’ option is what I know works best.
If you use Genesis, you can easily make the change with the Genesis simple edits plugin, it does really what it says – edits post meta data above and below content, footer credits and outputs as easy as 2+2.
I have no idea why Google ranks articles without dates higher, but it sure does… at least older such.
I wrote this article in 2013:
It’s been on page one of Google for ‘how to make money with cpa’ since then… but on the second position after Udemy.com (I also now rank for çpa marketing and more cpa keywords). It’s not a tough keyword and really not a big deal, it’s only been getting me about 7% of my search traffic, I have a lot of keywords on the first page, but tested this one for the article, cause I know you like backed up claims:
I used a proxy to get results as seen by you wherever you are (click to enlarge the images)
Yesterday I switched to ‘last updated’ and it jumped to number one:
It might be just Google showing different results to searches for different locations, it might be a coincidence, but my search traffic jumped to 43% from 41%, my search clicks increased quite a lot too… so I’m pretty positive about saying hiding your post dates (or showing ‘last updated’) will increase your search traffic quite a lot, check out this pic:
You can see how my search clicks skyrocketed since yesterday.
Just noticed the article moved up for ‘cpa marketing’ too and is now on page one, last spot (another update: it already moved up to second spot), it’s never been on page one for that keyword before…
There’s no doubt, posts that show ‘last updated’, or no date at all rank higher. You may have noticed the date in the search results was Aug 15, 2014, that was the previous date the article was updated, I guess it takes a few days for Google to notice the updates, which is the reason to not show any dates in the first pics.
Anyway, it’s been a day and I’ll need more testings to be totally sure, but that’s not really the point of this article… if you know how to rank, you will, with or without post dates, the big reason I wanted to talk about article dates is they have a huge impact on user experience… it might be positive or negative depending on what you show.
Let me ask you: do you like reading 5 year old articles?
Most likely not, right?
But you certainly like reading 5 year old articles that get updated often enough to make you feel the blog they are published on is quite fresh.
Almost everybody is like that.
When I go to a blog and see an old article I’m already thinking about the back button, no matter how cool the article is, or that it might get updated, even if it does not say.
When I see that the article was updated recently, that’s a whole different story.
This is why I chose to display ‘last updated’ instead of ‘published date’… it’s been a day and I already got a comment that went something like this:
“I posted this comment because I like your blog… and I see you are active”
That actually means:
“I noticed you had just updated this article which made me comment, like your page and become a reader”
The other huge reason to show ‘last updated’ is it makes my content evergreen… my old articles, people used to just scan through, now show that they get updated pretty often and people know they are current and worth reading.
My advice to you
Don’t just leave the post dates empty because there is so much information people just don’t read carefully content without dates, I know I don’t. There are some rare cases where huge blogs don’t need dates as they get their traffic from email marketing mainly, If you get a lot of search traffic though, or want to get a lot, not showing post dates can be quite bad (you will get more clicks as I already mentioned, but less time spent on the site).
The perfect solution is to show ‘last updated’, you’d get more search clicks, people would get better experience and… well, that’s pretty much everything you should be after to cash in big time.
Damn, I’m so glad I finally have the answer to publish post dates or not to publish post dates… I was wondering for quite a while, but just couldn’t find any information or the time to make the switch and see which is better.
Let me know if you liked this article and stay awesome.