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Why You Should NOT Remove Dates from Your WordPress Blog Posts

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Elegant Themes
Why You Should NOT Remove Dates from Your WordPress Blog Posts

When I started WPBeginner back in 2009, I made a decision to not include dates on any of my blog posts. I did that because I thought I was clever than the rest. My theory was that WPBeginner is NOT a blog. It is a resource like the WordPress codex or Wikipedia neither of which have dates on their articles. Besides my thought was that removing the dates from blog posts would trick the users into thinking that my content is evergreen. Boy was I dead wrong. In the recent months, I’m noticing a trend that more and more internet marketers and self-proclaimed “SEO experts” are advising their users to remove dates from their WordPress blog posts. In this article, I will provide in-depth details on why I chose not to include dates at first and what changed my mind later. I will also cover if/what are the SEO impacts of having dates on your blog posts (post-penguin and panda). Lastly, my goal is that after reading this entire posts you would understand that your problem is not with dates, rather it is with published date. I have found a solution that would please you, your users, and search engines.

Reasons Behind Removing or Not Including Dates

When I first started WPBeginner in 2009, I always saw it as a resource site similar to the WordPress Codex or Wikipedia. If you have used either of the two, then you know that they do not have time-stamp or dates on their entries. You are probably wondering what could be the possible advantage of that? Well, as users we have a built-in prejudice towards outdated content. The moment we see a date, we are programmed to classify it in one of the two categories: outdated OR relevant. In theory just because the content is old doesn’t mean it is not relevant, but users make that assumption. As a blogger that thought was disturbing for me because I wanted everyone to read my content. So what did I do? I decided not to include dates on my blog posts. My thought was that people read Wikipedia even when it has relevant information which may or may not be up to date. Since the user never know the original published date, they give it a benefit of doubt.

Wrong Way

In the past few months, I have seen numerous internet marketers and SEO’s giving out their verdict against having dates on blog posts. Each have their own reasons, but all follow along the same buzz-word evergreen content. When popular blogs like CopyBlogger decide to remove dates, it sets an example for others to follow.

I have gone down this road already, and I can tell you why it is a wrong path.

Why I Would Never Remove Dates Again

I don’t make the same mistake twice. Not having dates at first was a mistake, and I don’t think I would be repeating that mistake. My hope is that after reading this, you would do the same. When starting WPBeginner, my main priority was to help users with my WordPress tutorials. Like other bloggers, I wanted to think that my content was evergreen. But in reality it is NOT. Even though I go back and update articles, it is just not possible to keep everything up to date all the time.

In the beginning, I had no issues or complaints regarding the date. However, 6 months down the road I started receiving emails from users complaining about an older article. At first, I would simply go and update the article right away. However as the site grew, updating all articles seemed to become more and more unlikely. It came to a point where I would receive several emails, tweets, or facebook messages regarding the dates on a regular basis. It took me a year and half to give up on my stubbornness and add the dates in the post.

Hindsight

In hindsight, I realized how big of a disservice I was doing to my users and the larger WordPress community by not having dates on the site. I wanted to help WordPress beginners, but sometimes I ended up misguiding them or causing more confusion because they didn’t know that they were looking at an older screenshot or tutorial.

Overtime, I have also learnt that very few posts are evergreen. You always learn something new and your methods change. It hits you when someone quotes your own words at a session where you are speaking and contradicting an older post. Guess what, if that post doesn’t have a date on it, then you can’t say well that article is old.

Bottomline is if you truly value your readers, then you would not remove dates. Blogs by the very definition are meant to be outdated. Whether you have dates or not, you still show your posts in a reverse chronological order. If you truly believe that your content is evergreen, then why don’t you change that order and display posts in a random order (yup now that’s a challenge).

Wait, how could I be satisfied by knowing that my blog posts are outdated? Doesn’t google penalize outdated content? Am I missing out on readers because of user prejudice towards older posts? Well I’m satisfied because I have found an alternative way to display dates that keep me and my readers happy. I suppose it keeps the search engines happy too.

New Dates Method, Readers, and Search Engines

I realized that my problem was not with dates. It was with “published date” feature because it didn’t accurately reflect the amount of work I put into the site. Published date feature is relevant for books because book authors don’t go an update the original book. They come out with version 2 instead. As a blogger, I personally go back to update one or two posts every day on WPBeginner yet that post still shows published on older date. Well luckily, WordPress also has the ability to show “last updated date” which in my opinion was the solution I needed all along.

Working Time

In the post mete data of WPBeginner, we have decided to replace published date with the last updated date. The code looks like this:

Last updated on <time datetime="<?php the_modified_time('Y-m-d'); ?>"><?php the_modified_time('F jS, Y'); ?></time>

The modified time function in WordPress checks for the last time you went an updated the post. If the last time you updated the post was the time you published it, then it shows the date you published it on. However, if you went back to update that post six months later, then it will show the last updated date.

I believe that in today’s world, last updated date is more valuable to readers than the actual published date. The published date is irrelevant when you have gone ahead and rewritten the whole article.

Now as for search engines, if you think that removing dates from your design would trick them, then you are very naive. Your WordPress sitemap contains the last modified date of each article, and chances are that you probably have submitted your sitemap into Google Webmaster Tools. I personally write for my users, and I value their thoughts a lot more than some search engine. However, the code above follows proper schema markup that tells search engines the last updated time of the post. Yes that means that Google will show the last updated date next to your entry rather than the original published date.

Lastly, the modified time feature satisfies me as a blogger. I hold myself to a pretty high standard, and I know that my users don’t let me slip either (Thank you everyone for being hard on me). Even though all blogs are meant to be outdated, WPBeginner audience do not allow for that. We get regular reports on outdated articles, and we do our best to update them as soon as we can. If you see an outdated article, then please let us know by tweeting at us @wpbeginner or by using the contact form.

Yup this solution keeps everyone happy.

Everyone is Happy

Today, I still see WPBeginner as more than a blog. I see it as the best WordPress resource site, and by adding date I think I have made it even better. Having time relevance doesn’t make us a bad resource rather it makes us a more helpful resource site. My hope is that with my opinion, I have convinced you to not remove dates from your WordPress blog posts. I am always open to feedback and criticism. Please share your thoughts on this topic in the comments below.


Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress lovers led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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Comments

  1. Allyson Williams says:

    Fabulous info. I update some blog posts annually and have been searching for a way to do this. I am using the Thesis theme. Can you walk me through how to do this for my blog?

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      We do not offer support for individual WordPress themes and theme frameworks. Please contact your theme’s support, they will be able to help you better.

  2. Richard says:

    I am TOTALLY baffled by how to go into WordPress.com and alter any sort of code. I do mean TOTALLY baffled.

    I like the idea of “last updated” solution–but I haven’t the foggiest notion of how I could alter the basic
    stuff I get with my free WordPress.com blog site.

    My goal is to write a book-form blog about my recent visit to Myanmar aka Burma. I want the posts to be chronological and I am using a static front page and still trying to figure out how to make this all play nicely together.

    Please tell me exactly how I would click through my Site Admin or Dashboard or whatever to modify the postings attached to the static front page to show “last updated.”

    With gratitude.

    Richard

  3. George Almeida says:

    Nice post! I tend to agree with having the date on your posts. I think it helps your readers for sure. One thing I’ve noticed with my blog is that even though I post the published data on all my blog posts, the date never shows up on the Search results. I’m not complaining really, it’s kind of the best of both worlds if you think about it. Anyone who sees one of my posts in their search, only sees the title and the Author but no date. If they click on the link, they will see the post AND the published date. This way, folks may not skip the post simply because it was posted 1 year ago and they do not get lost. It’s a win win. I wish I could tell you how I have this working but I don’t really know. I’m using a hosted WordPress blog. Thanks again for the article!

  4. Jennifer Roberts says:

    Thanks. As a reader I hate it when bloggers remove dates from time-sensitive posts. As a blogger, though, I’ve had some good posts get lost in search results because they weren’t new, even though I had updated them. This sounds like a great solution. I hope it works for me.

  5. João Marcos says:

    How add DATE to dinamic descripition using this code… ?

    add_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘gen_meta_desc’ );
    function gen_meta_desc()
    {
    global $post;
    if ( ! is_home() )
    return;
    $meta = strip_tags( $post->post_content );
    $meta = str_replace( array( “\\n”, “\\r”, “\\t” ), ‘ ‘, $meta);
    $meta = substr( $meta, 0, 125 );
    echo “”;
    }

  6. Rich Page says:

    Awesome! Finally the solution I was also looking for – I was always wondering whether to remove dates or not for my classic old content – this is the perfect solution! Thanks!

  7. Katiero Porto says:

    It’s really simple! It depends on your niche, style and focus. If your blog is about something that is always changing, you will have to post almost everyday, update the posts sometimes and you can’t remove post dates.

    Only those who have some sort of atemporal content, let’s say who are writing things about history or religion, those people can hide dates if they want to because their content is naturally evergreen. It will help the reader today and ten years from now.

    So my suggestion is if you want to post less and think about long term you should choose an atemporal topic to blog, not something that changes everyday like internet marketing or wordpress.

  8. bernice says:

    This post is great, thanks for making it. However, I am a real newbie. Where do I put this code?
    Thanks again.

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      In your WordPress theme or a child theme you would replace get_the_date(); or the_time(); line. These lines are usually spread in your templates and display a post’s published date and time.

  9. Kira says:

    I disagree with this particular viewpoint but still a great article!!

  10. Hayslan says:

    Wow! I was just installing my new blog and thinking in removing the posts dates.

    Coincidentally I came here on the blog and at some point I saw the article about “How to Install and Setup W3 Total Cache for Beginners” somewhere and thought, “I’ve read this article before .. is it made ​​another?”. I went to check and saw it was the same article with a difference: updated!

    Not enough the article in question, just falling with a parachute here in this article .. let’s face it, awesome and helpful!

    You simply rock!

  11. Neeraj Pathania says:

    I wanna ask you about something. I have a wordpress blog and what i do is update each post monthly. So here’s my doubt:” Is there any limit on the number of times any single post can be updated.” I know that the chances of that might be slim to none. But i want to be sure.

    Please reply ASAP!

  12. Jim says:

    Thank you for doing this post, I was actually thinking of getting rid of the dates on my site, and now I know why not to. I see how valuable they truly are, thank you again!!

  13. Ian Thomson says:

    Great post and I agree 100%. I am very pleased you are thinking about the reader. If I can’t find a date I ignore the post and move on as it has limited value without one. I have just left comments with another blogger who proclaims himself a “leading social media marketing and online marketing expert”. He evangelises not using dates and does not accept that all information ages. Oh well.

  14. Naeem says:

    What about the dates in Blogger Urls, like on my blog at
    I am thinking of removing the date stamps in URL because they might affect SEO.

    What are your views on it?

    • WPBeginner Support says:

      We don’t use dates in WPBeginner’s URL structure. However, dates in URL can positively affect sites like newspaper sites, journals, other sites where dates are important to the relevancy and context of the content.

  15. Kenneth von Rauch says:

    Thanks for the post, Syed. What you say makes perfect sense. I just want to add that it still depends on the niche. For example, you can use WordPress as a Welcome site for a brick and mortar company. Such companies still exist and they just want their contact details to be ‘available on the Web”. :) That said, I totally agree that in the case of WPBeginner.com, it’s beneficial to display post dates.

    As for the code you offer, it works just fine, but you can just install the WP Last Modified plugin that does exactly the same. The advantage is that you won’t have to mess around with any code. The only issue with the plugin is that it does not remove the ‘Posted on’ text. I personally believe the users should have the option to decide whether to keep that text or not.

  16. Dpot says:

    I always prefer the use of date.

    Personally it allows me to see in which date I published what!

    Thank you :)

  17. Chiranjeev says:

    Hi,
    Finally found the post that cleared my all doubts.
    I was confused since long ago regarding Should I show date in search engine or not, But I got the right solution for it. It’s really good idea to update the post date instead off removing it from Google Search or other search engine.

    Thanks a lot for detailed information.

  18. Matt says:

    Grammar errors aside, you make some valid points here. FYI – Wikipedia does post a date in their articles. It’s just not very easy to spot. Look in the footer and you’ll find a last modified date and time.

  19. Zimbrul says:

    Coming back here after I did it!
    I’m using genesis and I’ve managed to drop the last modified date code using Genesis Simple Edits and a shortcode. Works perfectly and you have the freedom to drop the shortcode at the beginning of the article or at the end. Now, there is a problem. How do I style it to look like the theme’s post info?

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