This seemingly straightforward question from SEO consultant Collins Opara turned out to be anything but.
- It takes time to earn credibility with Google’s algorithm (which is why the first result in a Google search is three years old on average), but...
- An article that looks outdated can also prompt readers to bounce — and that hurts your Google ranking.
What’s an SEO to do?
Short answer: Neither.
A search advocate at Google, John Mu, replied to say that removing the date from a blog post — or URL structure — doesn’t bamboozle Google’s algorithm.
“Even when you publish something without a date, Google still keeps time,” he tweeted. “Yes, we have clocks.”
In fact, Annie Cushing of Annielytics said that cutting dates from their URL structure lost one of her clients 95%+ of their organic search traffic.
Anecdotal, but terrifying!
Constantly tweaking publication dates isn’t great, either, though — it can confuse readers and anyone who linked to your story when it was new.
First rule of SEO: Don’t cross your backlinkers.
What’s the real fix?
If you refresh the content, add an update date instead of changing the publication date.
It’s the media norm, and it offers readers the clearest insight into what they’re reading, and how old (and new) it is.