Dates On Evergreen Blog Posts – Why I Add Dates To My Articles
Should you show dates on blog posts?
Why would you show the published date if you write evergreen content and articles?
It is a logical assumption. If you write a post that is not time-sensitive, like advice or how-to articles, there is no need to show a publishing date on the page.
In contrast, a news site or blog would need a blog date and time stamp.
Dates on evergreen content
Some time ago, I wrote an article about how and why bloggers should be publishing evergreen content. In it, I said, get rid of the date on a post.
It is not difficult, as all it takes to publish evergreen content is to write timeless content. Then hide the publishing dates on blogs with a little CSS code.
The date is still visible to search engines because the publishing date is present in the page’s source code.
With a bit of coding knowledge or using a WordPress plugin, it is even possible to hide a post’s published date from search engines.
Some bloggers believe that there is an SEO benefit to removing dates.
Many professional bloggers believe in hiding article dates because it makes a lot of sense.
Timeless, evergreen, or everlasting content is all about timelessness. So why would you show and admit that you wrote the post three years ago?
As long as the articles are regularly updated, using a date stamp remover helps keep an article from being dated in search engine results.
It is all very sound logic. But how much sense does it make for readers of blog articles?
Then the penny dropped
Sometimes, all it takes to change one’s fixed ideas is a chance moment of clarity. The moment arrived for me a couple of months ago.
I was doing a Google search for a little WordPress issue I wanted to solve.
By habit, I changed the search setting to The Past Year. I don’t like getting search results showing hundreds of very old listings. They are sure to be out of date.
I’m sure many people do this when using search engines like Google. When you have a small problem or are looking for information, what use is content from 2006?
Anyway, back to my Google search and my chance moment of clarity.
An adage came to my mind: don’t do as I do, do as I say.
Or, in other words, how can I be so hypocritical about this content date stamp issue? I’m hiding this information from my site’s readers.
I want dates on blogs I read, but my readers can’t have them. I think that was my final moment of clarity.
Undoing the doing of dates on blog posts
After a week of thinking about it, I decided to change what had been one of the pillars of my blog.
Just Publishing Advice was, from its inception, an evergreen site. So logically, it didn’t show published dates.
But I like to know the date of the information I read. So it makes sense to show my blog’s readers the same information.
With that decision made, I did a full content audit of over 400 articles to ensure that the site’s content was categorized and labeled correctly.
I refreshed a lot of images to give uniformity and added, edited, or changed a lot of content and older posts.
I also spent a week improving site speed to help the overall performance of the site.
Then when it came time to unhide all the publishing dates, I had another moment of clarity.
What about all the updates I had done over the weeks I spent refreshing my blog?
I went back to another Google search to see how I could show the original publishing date and a date for any content I had updated.
But only if it had a last updated date. This last option took some time to get right.
It took a bit of trial and error, some coding, and help from my WordPress developer. But finally, I could add an updated date in the metadata of every article.
After weeks of work, I’m happy, and my conscience is clear.
Readers of Just Publishing Advice can now see the original publishing and updated content dates at the head of every article.
Are dates on evergreen articles right or wrong?
The evergreen content argument is not one you can categorize as right or wrong. Removing dates on blog posts is the right approach for some evergreen bloggers.
For others, showing dates on single posts is okay. While for some bloggers, showing dates can adversely affect SEO.
There is no single correct approach. You need to decide what is best for your blog based on your traffic data on Google Analytics and Search Console.
For my site, I would now prefer to be open about the content I write and post. Also, about what has happened to the content since it was originally published.
By adding an updated date, I can inform my readers that I have revisited an article and checked its content and usefulness. Or I made changes to enhance the article.
I would be very interested to hear from readers. What do you think about the importance of dates on blog posts and articles you read?
Updates to this article
Since writing this article, I have revisited this date issue (yet) again. I made a small change to how the article date appears on this site.
It was a little confusing, showing two dates.
The date now indicates the most recent posting update.
This one date is either the original publishing date or the date when the article was updated and refreshed with new content or advice.
Google and most other search engines use the last modified date for indexed pages and posts, so it seems logical to do the same.
But if you are curious, you can always find the original published date by checking the source code.
Related reading: 10 Best Free SEO Tools And Website Checkers For Your Blog
8 thoughts on “Dates On Evergreen Blog Posts – Why I Add Dates To My Articles”
I believe it is up to the content. Logically if someone’s blog is about trends, the dates are a must. Mine is rarely about trends, but I decided to hide the dates from search engines and to show them to readers because such is the nature of my content. My blog asks the reader for constant engagement and with visible dates, I keep myself accountable and my readers too. On the other hand, if someone runs a niche blog where they answer questions and give advice on some topic that is universal, like the same in every season or during the period of several years, I believe the dates shouldn’t be used because the content might seem outdated. The creator is, however, responsible to update the blog post if things change in time.
I agree, Olivera. I often think about a topic such as, how to open a coconut. It’s timeless, of course. But if it was published and dated in 2004, it would struggle to appear in search results. So it needs to have either no date or to use an updated date to have a chance to rank. So yes, it’s up to each blogger to make the decision.
The understated rationale to humanize wins it for me. Of course, you have to optimize for & woo search engines too, but that can happen behind the scenes just as well- in metatags, CSS, coding, etc. Commercial blogging is ads & pop-ups on steroids, and it’s chipping away at readership value as is. So the idea of dating blogs (no pun intended :)) is about letting users know they are valued over the bot race.
Good luck with it, Ian. I know it is a bit of a project! I changed themes to get exactly what I wanted. Even then, I had to get my WordPress developer to do a bit of extra coding magic. Especially in the area, you mentioned, of getting the order right for latest posts based on the updated date.
But there is an important secondary issue with posts. In what order should they to be sorted and displayed on the home page and in things like sidebar lists? On most themes the published-at date will be used by default for this. I think it’s worthwhile to switch this display order too over to the last-updated-at date. After all, if you have genuinely reworked an old post it makes sense to bring it back up to the top so people will see it.
In my theme this will take a bit of work but it is possible to change, so that’s what I’m doing now.
I hope more sites will come to experience the same moment of clarity you did. I’ve done quite a bit of bibliography checking for scientific/technical papers, and there is nothing so frustrating as finding a source that has no attributable date. And I do mean no date anywhere – you’d be amazed how many sites have managed to keep it not just off the user-side pages but also out of the page source code as well. :(
When I’m looking anything up on Google I always check the date, particularly on how-to articles. Mending kettles, using a comments box and even dating all become irrelevant if the advice is too old. And ‘too old’ can be six months.
There are exceptions. Truly evergreen features include history – although theories change all the time – and gardening. There again, new products come onto the market and trends in planting.
I’ve just argued myself into dates haven’t I?
OMG, thank you! Given how fast the internet (and the world) is changing, advice that was great in 2016 can be obsolete by 2017 if, for example, WordPress releases an update or Amazon changes its algorithms. I don’t tend to get to blog articles through searches, so I don’t have the chance to specify a range of publication dates, and it drives me mad when I can’t find when an advice post was written. I always show dates on my posts just because it annoys me so much not to have them.
Again, thank you!
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