Should blog posts be timestamped?

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Generally speaking, both from an SEO and UX perspective, it is indeed good practice to include a date tag or stamp at the top of a blog post, as it helps the reader to understanding the context and also builds trust.

To be clear, I’m referring to a physical indication of the post date on the page itself – not included in the post URL.

The context

Content creators can write with a different perspective depending on the context of what else was going on at any given time. Therefore, having a timestamp will help the reader understand why a certain perspective was taken.

This context becomes even more crucial when the topic is technical or advice-focused. For example, we have all read an article on how to accomplish a task on a mobile device, only to find that the solution no longer works because there have been subsequent software updates. Not only is it a waste of time, but it can also leave the reader frustrated with the brand or organization that provided it.

Without a date tag, it is impossible to tell if an article was written two days ago or two years ago and therefore if it is useful to the reader.

Confidence

Including the date in a blog post is really essential to build public trust. It’s one of those things that readers don’t notice until it’s there and could increase a site’s bounce rate if readers immediately object to the lack of transparency.

In fact, timestamps are often inserted into SERP results. Therefore, by not including a date tag, a site may not benefit from the click at all, because the searcher selects results that are more obviously written within a time frame they consider reasonable. for a particular subject.

So why isn’t everyone using date tags?

Aside from the few who simply haven’t considered it, the main reason seems to be evergreen content and the fear that this carefully curated timeless material will become less valuable or even redundant if timestamped.

Although there is no data to prove it, the general consensus in the SEO community is that the increased trust and transparency provided by a timestamp far outweighs the potential harm caused by not having a timestamp.

But since Google favors sites that are regularly updated with new content, webmasters understandably fear that older persistent content with a timestamp will lose value over time.

In this case, do not hesitate to update it.

How to update blog content

In general, it’s better to update existing content than to recreate it. Competing content is not helpful to search engines and can cannibalize search traffic. Therefore, if the topic is still hot, updating the blog post is usually the best solution.

This strategy is best adopted with evergreen pieces of content that have done very well in the past and need a nudge in the right direction to stay that way.

Typically, the author will adjust the timestamp, then in the header or footer of the article, indicate the date the article was originally published.

Editors and those working in news tend to have a CMS that includes both the original date and subsequent updates, but most blog posts will only be designed to include the first. Therefore, it’s best to update the date tag and then mention the original post date elsewhere in the copy, otherwise the original date will continue to show up in the SERPs.

The timestamp doesn’t need to be adjusted for every small update (eg if the organization has changed its name or the odd stats here and there) but should be used for more meaningful revisions.

This also applies if, over time, a site has created multiple pieces of similar content that would all be best combined into one. With redirects in place and a better optimized page that doesn’t compete with each other, it’s not uncommon to see the new post outperform the combination of its predecessors, as link juice from all pages reinforces the new single destination.

Date tags and stamps are not directly related to rankings and traffic generation, but all the arrows definitely point in the direction in which dated content has the propensity to outperform undated stamped copy.

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