Should you show dates on your blog posts?

Should you show dates on your blog posts?

A while back I stumbled upon a blog or an article that talked about long-tail searches and how displayed dates could effect readership. My overall take away from it was to not put dates on your blog (or article) posts.

It made sense. You’re creating content that you want to be relevant for a long time. You’re not sure when it will be discovered. So why date it and risk having a new visitor look at the date and immediately discount the post as old. It was a reasonable point.

So I stopped putting dates on my blog posts.

I simply stopped displaying a date on any content that had a non-time sensitive lifespan. Blogs, articles, etc. all had dates removed, hidden, or simply not added. But then nothing changed. My bounce rate didn’t change. My time on site didn’t move much. Pages visited remained steady. So I started to wonder.

First, by default, search engines catalog your entries by the date they scan and add it. So your blog post is pegged to a date regardless. And after reviewing my analytics, if the date didn’t make much difference, why not show it?

What was the original author worried about? Was there large gaps between content generation that he hoped to conceal? Would something that’s not time sensitive really be ignored if a date appeared on the article? Posts about technology will easily be seen as out-of-date by the reader. But what if they were actually looking for past reference?

So I started putting dates BACK on my blog posts

In about a year, after noticing no significant difference in analytics, I came full circle. So now I put dates on my blog posts - and articles and such. Sure, I don’t make them large and in your face - they generally trail at the bottom of a post or are displayed in light gray tones to not draw too much attention.

So when I’m asked now, should you put dates on your blog posts? My answer is yes - if you want to. It doesn’t make much difference. Especially today with so much content being generated, unless your post is authoritative or popular (meaning it’s still relevant and helpful) then it will drop way back in natural search listings. And since most content is still discovered via search - there’s a self-cleansing for most dated topics and posts.

Jan 24, 2013

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