Should you include dates on blog posts?

dates on blog posts

I’m treading on dicey ground here, as I’m going to confess there is a very good reason why I don’t include dates on blog posts.

This is because since 2017 I haven’t written much in this blog myself, and relied on guest post bloggers to update it for me. It is only very recently (2023) I have returned to writing in here.

Since then I have updated the homepage to include my own posts, but I was thoroughly ashamed of them. Many were terribly old, and therefore out of date, and have been removed. It definitely would not have been a good idea to show these dates on blog posts.

But then someone on LinkedIn asked why I didn’t date my posts, and it got me thinking. I have another blog, The Commenting Club, which I have been writing in very frequently since 2014, and those posts may well benefit from having dates on blog posts.

So here’s an infographic giving a brief outline of whether to include dates on blog posts or not:

Should you include dates on blog posts?

And here’s some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.

Are dates on blog posts expected nowadays?

In the olden days, before people had access to fancy blog themes and plugins, you had no choice but to be content with a date in both your post’s URL and on the page. Now these can be removed, and in the case of the URL, this is certainly a good thing.

However, anyone doing a bit of Googling for research reasons will inevitably glance at the date of the posts listed in the search results. Some people will say this hinders old posts having any chance of being considered worthy, because their publication date appears to be too old.

Certainly if you are researching for the latest information within your industry or niche, you would like to see a newer date on blog posts. Many bloggers rely on their reputation and longevity within their chosen fields to supersede this preconception.

Is there prejudice against perceived old content?

I confess my eyes kept searching for the dates on blog posts when I was researching for this post. It was a habit I wasn’t aware of until now. But even so, I did consider some posts with older dates, as they were more relevant for my purpose than the newer versions.

However, dates on blog posts do reveal a sense of transparency of how recent the information is. This goes along way towards creating trust with your readers, which is important if your credibility determines whether your content is read or not.

It is a pity readers who are not aware of the expertise or reputation of the blog’s author may be put off by an older post. These may not be any less relevant than a younger post, especially when written by someone who is newer to the profession.

How often do you update your blog?

Just like me, I suspect there are plenty of people who haven’t written in their blog for a while (though 6 years is a pretty long time!). So certainly having dates on blog posts will reveal your lack of commitment, which is a big disappointment for your readers.

Yet there are blogs, and websites created with WordPress, which need to show dates on blog posts. News sites, such as the BBC, require not only dates, but times as well, especially for breaking-news stories which are continuously updating when new information comes in from their journalists.

There are special codes or plugins for bloggers who regularly rewrite their old posts with new information, to show a more recent update. This is very good practice, as the search engines love new material, and finding it on a post with longevity receives more brownie points!

Do evergreen posts actually exist?

The reason why I didn’t include dates on blog posts is because I wanted my posts to be considered as evergreen. To me it didn’t matter when they were written, as the information they contained was always going to be relevant to the reader.

But sometimes this is not the case. Many of the posts I deleted from this site were out of date, because the technology and practices had moved on. Digital marketing is an ever-changing conception which is forever being updated, so readers need to know what is the latest version.

This is particularly true with how-to posts within specific areas, like my old WordPress posts I created back in 2008! Woah, WordPress has certainly moved on since then (and not for the better in my opinion, but that is another matter). The dates on the posts would have revealed this.

Does not having dates affect SEO?

One extremely eminent blogger revealed what happened when he added dates on blog posts within his blog. His traffic dropped by 40% and there was a significant decline in his keyword ranking. This was all due to the search engines taking note of his post dates.

This does depend how much you value search engine optimisation (SEO) in your blog. The blogger above did recover because of his reputation, also by a mad rush of updating and creating cornerstone posts by diverting information in from his old posts.

The answer is to add dates to blog posts to keep your readers happy, and to edit the code of your blog to stop the search engines from reading the dates your posts were published, thus preventing a dip in your performance stats.

What’s your take on dates on blog posts?

There are always going to be pros and cons with this subject. Maybe one day I will bite the bullet and add dates on blog posts in my other blog, and brave the consequences. I may gain the respect from more readers in spite of losing SEO performance as a result.

I forgot to mention that since blogs are usually set out in a hierarchical style, with the latest publication at the top, you can see which are the most recent posts. And there are also the dates included within the comments, which is another huge give-away to post age!

If you are steadfast about having dates on blog posts, please let us know why in the comments below. Also if you are like me, and prefer to keep my bad behaviour a secret, even to the detriment of credibility with my readers, also tell us in a comment. We look forward to reading what you have got to say.

Alice Elliott
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