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Changing Your Article Dates For SEO

In order to make the content look fresh and get more clicks, some websites update the timestamps on the articles. This has both SEO benefits and consequences. When it comes to search, content that’s fresh is still the best currency.

The chances of your content ranking in the SERPs are higher when your content is fresh and new ever since Google’s freshness update rolled out. 

And the ‘appearance’ of freshness, what about that?

When a website spices up its content a bit and gives it a new fresh look and date, what happens then?

What are the benefits and consequences of SEO then?

In this article, we’ll be discussing these questions and how SEO professionals treat datestamps.

Why Do Article Dates Get Changed?

It was explained by Google’s Martin Pitt that it’s preferable to update the old page instead of creating a whole new page with similar content. In order to attract attention in the SERPs, manipulating dates can be a very effective way to do so.

Users go towards the most recent content, so basically if a user is searching the internet using search keywords and finds an article related to their search, with a date that dates back to 2017 they’re not likely to follow up on it, but, if that very same article has a recent date on it, the situation changes.

Keyword research is very dependent on the information which is the freshest and a user will be drawn to the most recent content. 

The benefit of regularly updating your content is two-fold and it appeals to users because we want to read the most recent and up-to-date information available.

CTR one of the most important SEO metrics gets increased by date updates and depending on the current competition out there, the search engine itself might understand that it’s paramount to be in the current.

On the other hand, the page that hasn’t been updated since 2016 simply doesn’t get into the SERPs. It does, however, make a webmaster wonder about the fact that it might damage their trustworthiness if the dates can so easily be updated and changed.

Does Changing Your Article Dates Have A Negative Impact On Your SEO?

When referring to changing dates, there are two different dates we’re looking at which are:

  • The date in the sitemap that gets changed
  • The dates on the page itself get changed

John Mueller made a recent comment indicating that even a huge date change doesn’t negatively affect your SEO efforts.

However, when it comes to the sitemaps, Google’s sitemap guide indicates that a page’s value must be represented correctly or Google will stop reading it.

According to a recently updated study, to show both the updated date and the original published date are the best practice when it comes to article dates.

You will almost definitely lose out on rankings if you allow search engines to crawl the publishing dates on your web pages, instead, you should specifically show them to your users if you want to save your rankings. 

It’s better to hide publishing dates ending up on the actual page from search engines but show both the publishing and updated dates of the updated post to your users. 

How To Safely Keep Your Content Fresh

As far as Google is concerned the dates on your articles have very little to do with keeping your content fresh.

When it comes to freshness, there are many factors that include:

  • The amount of content that was changed
  • How frequent you update

Only one of these factors applies to the date an article is published, which means the quality additions you make to an existing page is what really matters. 

When it comes to breathing new life into your old content, there are three main strategies that are all related to one thing – Your content must be relevant, valuable, and timeless.

The Conclusion

Naturally, the path you choose to go is up to you, but in my personal opinion, I’d rather create new fresh articles than changing the dates on existing ones. Not every article is worth updating, but whichever strategy you follow should be right for your content and your page.