Should You Timestamp Your Blog Posts?


A timestamp on a blog post is a viewable date of publication. It is shown right below your blog post title. You can remove this if you want, but the question is, should you? 

Should you timestamp your blog posts? The general answer is no. And here are the reasons why:

  • A timestamp is an expiration date
  • A timestamp prevents evergreen perception
  • A timestamp serves no seo purpose
  • A timestamp reduces your traffic

Timestamps do not work for content that is evergreen. For example, you may have written a post about the best practices for marketing your blog. If you put a timestamp to that, no one is going to think it is still relevant two years later, or even just months down the road. 

As a result, you will get less traffic and fewer shares of your content because it looks old—all because of a timestamp.  Let us discuss this further and jump into the four reasons why you should not timestamp your blog post. 

A Timestamp is an Expiration Date

Nobody—and we cannot stress this enough—wants outdated information. The thing with bloggers is that the content they publish is always up to date, and most of the time, the content of small blogs is still relevant even after several years have passed. 

If you timestamp your blog posts, you just create its own expiration date. You see, even if your blog post still ranks high in Google, the search engine shows the date that it was published. If the reader sees that the article is already aged, he is not likely to click on it. 

Whenever we buy food in the grocery store, we look for expiration dates or dates of manufacture. A blog post that has a timestamp is like a food product with a manufacture date but no expiration date.

Here is the thing: in a world where there are four million blog posts published every day, how can you expect a site visitor to read something that is old? They won’t. People who have spent some time on the internet know that there is new and updated content every day.

The only exception to this rule is if you are running a news website. Surely, you have to time stamp your blog posts because you want the reader to have a context about what you published. Those who do not mind old info will still read your old news post. To them, it is history.

But for blog posts that have relevance even after a few years, do not time stamp them. Do not give the impression that your article is old.



A Timestamp Prevents Evergreen Perception

What is evergreen? 

Evergreen means it is fresh content no matter what time of the year it is, and no matter what year it is. There are blog posts—concepts and ideas—that will stand the test of time. For example, you may have written a primer about affiliate marketing. Ten years down the line, that blog post is still relevant.

That blog post is evergreen. But if you timestamp your blog posts, your prospective site visitors will not even click on them. Even if they do, they would see that the content was published ten years ago, and this will result in only two things:

  • A high bounce rate
  • Reduced session pages per visit

A bounce, as far as Google Analytics is concerned, happens if a customer exits a page without viewing other pages. A high bounce rate is bad because Google would start thinking that your page is not adding value.

What Google wants is for users of your website to stay there, and that they must visit other pages on your website. How can you do this if you have a time stamp? You can’t.

The moment a site visitor sees the date on your page, this same person is going to go back to the search page and look for something new. The perception is that your content is not evergreen, that it is not fresh, and that they are better off looking for newer content.

Now, if you take off the time stamp, the site visitor would never know that this post is old, unless if there are comments at the bottom of the page that indicate the dates they were posted.  

What you want is to give the impression that your content is new, and you can only do this if your blog posts have no time stamps.

A Timestamp Serves No SEO Purpose

Google does not care how young or how old a blog post is. The date you posted your blog post is irrelevant. What matters to Google is content and value.

Research after research shows that time stamps make no contribution to SEO. There is no positive and there is no negative impact. Google just does not care. 

Why? 

If a timestamp is important, then the top dogs of SEO like Neil Patel should have been penalized already. People like Neil has thousands of blog pages. Big companies also have thousands if not millions of blog pages. It is absurd to think that they have the resources to update all these pages. 

They don’t. But Google still shows their posts at the top of search results because they post content that is relevant. 

The exceptions are posts where they append a year at the end of the blog title. For example, there may be a post titled “The Best Ways to Get traffic in 2019”. If a blog post has a year appended to it, Google is not likely to show this article anymore by 2021.

This is alright. The purpose of an article like that is to generate traffic for people who are only interested in tips that are effective for that given year. Naturally, that blog post is going to reduce in traffic as the years go by. 

A Timestamp Reduces Your Traffic

Many people who have huge websites conducted experiments at their own risk. They added timestamps to their blog posts to see if it has an impact on their traffic. 

The result? 

The impact was negative. They saw an abrupt drop in their traffic by as much as 40%. And when they removed the time stamp, their traffic went back to normal.

Source: The Effect of Showing Last Updated Date Stamps on Blog Traffic [Case Study]

How did this happen? 

While dates on a blog post enhance the user experience, it is really a double-edged sword. The date has an impact on people who search for information. If they see that the post is old, they would skip it and go to the next one. 

Conclusion

If you care about user experience, then you must timestamp your blog posts. If you believe that your content is evergreen, then there is no need to timestamp your entries.

Google does not care about the age of your content or its publication date. Information is information, and for as long as that information is relevant, it will stay up in the rankings. 

If you timestamp your blog posts, expect a decrease in traffic. If you are writing content that still matters years from now, do not add a time stamp. If you are writing news articles, then do your audience a favor and add a timestamp.



John Kilmerstone

I'm an Aussie living in Japan who enjoys traveling, photography and blogging. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of blogging. Discover how to turn your passions and pastimes into an online business.

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