I think you should date your blog posts.
No, not a date, date!! A calendar date.

As I buzz through various blog posts daily (because I’m a geek and I read plenty of them), I occasionally come across a post that tells me NOT to date my blog posts.

Then there’s one that tells me TO date them.

And then another that tells me NOT to date them.

I’m going to tell you why you should date your blog posts, and how it can benefit both you and your reader.

{why you should date them}

Why You Should Date Your Blog PostsLet’s start with the obvious question – Should I date my blog posts?

The answer to this is Yes.

If you’re shooting for evergreen content (and let’s face it, who isn’t), there’s a theory floating around out there that keeping your posts “date free” will make your posts appear fresh and new.

I’m here to tell you that if you think that’s true, you just might be screwing yourself.

As a ghostwriter, ghost blogger, freelance writer, and whatever else writer, the Internet is my resource center. I use posts like yours as reference all the time. But…if I come across your post and it doesn’t have a date on it, I DON’T use it at all. As a matter of fact, I ignore it.

Here’s why:
1) I have no idea how old the information is.
2) I can’t tell if it was written yesterday or a year ago.
3) I’m not going to spend my time reading the post to try and figure it out.

When I use OPP (other people’s posts) as reference, I never go back more than two years. If it’s 2017, I use articles from 2015, 2016, 2017. Therefore, if you have a post that’s undated, myself and a thousand other research writers aren’t going to waste their time on it.

 

{what happens when you don’t date them?}

If you decide to NOT date your posts, you might see a lot less engagement.

Here’s what I mean:
The other day I was Googling “How to Do a Twitter Ad.”

Because social media evolves so quickly, it’s super important for me to find the most relevant and timely post.

Here’s what came up:
Why You Should Date Your Blog Posts

 

Of the four, which do you think I clicked on first?
Which would you click on first?

Which do you think I clicked on last?

If you said the post from Kissmetrics, you were right. I clicked on it last. I have NO idea how relevant that information is. For all I know, it was written in 2013. If I kept reading and tried to apply the direction in that post to create a Twitter ad, I would eventually find out just how dated it was. But I’ll be honest, I’ve been down that road and I have ZERO desire to go down it again. 

(That is, the road of using an undated post as reference only to discover it’s older than the pizza crust behind my couch.)

Date your posts and give readers the courtesy to know when it was written.

 

{how do I make them evergreen?}

If you’ve got posts that are a few years old and are still relevant, you’ve got a few choices as far as keeping them relevant and clickable:

1) Change the date of your post.
WordPress lets you do this. If you think it’s getting ignored because it’s a year old, you have the option to change the date.

2) Republish an old post.
If you’ve got a post that’s a few years old and it doesn’t get much engagement, consider republishing and updating the post. I’ve done this a few times myself. I was a crappy blogger when I first started. I’ve since republished some of those posts and improved the post altogether.

3) Rewrite a new one and reference the old one.
I just published a post called 3 Freelance Websites That Pay WELL. In 2015, I wrote one called 5 Freelance Websites That Pay. I could have kept tossing the 2015 post around on my social channels, but instead, I wrote a fresh, updated post and hyperlinked the 2015 post within it. This shows the reader I’m relevant and a big fan of updating and refreshing my content.

 

{what about search engine rankings?}

Not that long ago, www.shoutmeloud.com did a case study of how using dates on blog posts affected traffic. The author of the blog said that removing dates had a positive impact on the overall search engine ranking.

According to the study, when the author, Harsh Agrawal, used a time stamp, he claimed his traffic dropped. Dip into the comment section, and you’ll see others had the same results. You’ll also see some had completely different results.

So what gives?

Harsh admits he likes to keep the dates in his posts to help improve user experience and that, to him, is important. He also offers a plugin “that allows you to show dates to your user, but not to search engines or you can show last updated time instead of published time.”

Here’s the free plugin he recommends to remove the date function from your WordPress theme.

 

{in a word…}

 It appears that including dates in blog posts shows that if dates are displayed in Google SERP’s, keyword ranking and blog traffic are negatively impacted. 

However, if you’re happy with your blog traffic and your blog dates are relevant to your readers, don’t sweat it.

For me, personally, dates are important. That’s because of the work I do. Is traffic important? Of course. But I’m not losing any sleep over it. Talk to me in a year when this post is a year old and you wonder at that time, “Is this information relevant anymore?”

 

Joleene Moody is a former television reporter and anchor turned freelance writer, blogger, and speaker, based in Central New York.
(No, not New York City. Not even close. 🙂
 )
Learn more at www.joleenemoody.com