Social PR Mistake: Removing the Date from Blog Posts

Krista Neher discusses dates on blogsThe dating game of aging content. It seems some brands are choosing to remove the date from blogs posts in an effort to keep the content timeless and forever young. In a recent Facebook thread, Krista Neher posed the question to her SEO friends: Is there any benefit in displaying dates on your blog posts?

I loved this question because I personally hate reading a dateless blog post. I feel the author is trying to trick me by removing the date from blog posts. But…some may go for the timelessness versus  timely.

Looking dated and passe?

“I ask this because the downside is that people think your content is outdated even if it may be evergreen (always relevant regardless of how old it is),” said Neher who is the author of Visual Social Media for Dummies.

One of the most popular posts on Neher’s Boot Camp Digital blog is: “What is Tumblr and how does it work?” Although the original post published way back in 2011, it generates the most pageviews.

Are dates too much of a commitment?

“Removing the date from your blog posts is a terrible idea,” says Googler Adam Singer who is an Analytics Advocate for Google by day and runs The Future Buzz blog by night. He feels so strongly about it that he wrote a blogpost with that headline.  – See more at: http://thefuturebuzz.com/2013/03/05/removing-the-date-from-your-posts-is-a-terrible-idea/#sthash.0wm9vDKm.dpuf

Singer makes theses points on why the dates are an important piece of digital data:

  • Date is an important piece of meta information associated with any digital content.
  • Knowing when something was published provides that all-too-critical context of time.
  • Some people have an incorrect assumption that just because something is old, it is immediately unshareable or unlinkable.
  • Removing the date also makes it seem like you are trying to hide something.

“If a post doesn’t have a published date I immediately question the credibility of the content,” said Leaves of Learning’s Beth Robeson.

The best of both worlds - new date and content refresh

Here is a solution offered up by Aaron Kronis, CEO of Stamina Records:

“Update your content  for posts older than two years old and update the date… use some fresh content and stop leaving outdated crap online for no reason.”

If you read Bruce Clay and Murray Newland’s book Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals, they have a whole chapter on updating evergreen blog content for the users benefit!

If the content is evergreen and still getting traffic, use the old article as inspiration and repurpose it? Here are some ideas:

  • Write a new article that approaches the topic with an alternative solution or perspective.
  • Put the content into a new format, such as turning a novella‐length blog post into a series of five‐minute video quick tips.
  • Create an infographic that illustrates the information.
  • Make a white paper that expands the topic.
  • Run a contest or do interviews to engage people around the topic.

What about the SEO perspective?

“From an SEO perspective, there’s not really a problem. The issue I’d be more concerned with is what several have echoed — people tend to look for the most recent content on a given subject. If yours doesn’t have a date, they may be more likely to pass it up. I like the suggestion Aaron gave. Update the post so you can change the date,” said Jason Potts, an online marketer based in Dayton, Ohio.

“I’ve always felt the date helps me realize how relevant the information is, especially in the SEO world. But this also applies to best practices for a lot of things: resumes, technology drivers, etiquette, etc,”  noted Internet Marketing Ninja Thom Craver in the Facebook thread.

If you decide to take away the date from blog posts and go for the timeless approach, just remember the credibility risks that come with the age-defying strategy of never getting old.

Well, you heard how industry leaders feel about removing the dates from blogs. What do you think about it?

Comments

  1. robdwoods says:

    Another option is you want a hybrid model is to have some custom code written to display the date for the first 3, 6, 12 months, etc. and then hide it after it reaches a certain point. I like to leave dates on posts and like to see them when I read but this solution can be a middle ground for those who can’t commit one way or the other.

  2. TomPick1 says:

    Excellent post Lisa. I tried removing the dates from my posts for a while (for some of the reasons you note above) but then realized it was a bad practice. Evergreen posts are different; original and revision dates can be noted. But let’s face it, a post like “Best LinkedIn Tactics of 2010″ only has so much of a shelf life. :-

  3. CarrieMorgan says:

    Great post! Removing dates does NOT make content evergreen – I think it hurts more than it helps.

  4. Laurie Wakefield says:

    To me, manipulating dates is spam-like behavior. I am more interested in building a following through credibility. To build lasting relationships and followers I believe we need to be respectful and engaging with relevant content and avoid using technology and tactics to trick readers into visiting a blog. I’ve learned to check dates on search results before I invest time reading articles. If I’m really interested in the topic, I’ll scan to see if older articles have value to me. I believe that if content is truly evergreen and has current value to the audience than an older date will convey thought leadership and real interest in the subject. I agree that posting updates, even as new articles is a great idea because the updates create value as well.

  5. wireddoc says:

    Some marketing gurus don’t agree, such as Jonathon Fields – he sees his work as commentary versus trendy. I think if you categorize your material time related, such as talking about an event, etc. then adding dates make sense. But if you are sharing ideas, strategies, your story, then it doesn’t matter. IMHO :0)

  6. lisabuyer says:

    robdwoods I agree and it also depends on the industry. With Internet marketing, social media and online PR, we are more apt to  be skeptics. But other less trending industries might be able to et away with it and it won’t make a difference.

  7. Sam Mazaheri says:

    Great article lisabuyer ! I’ve really wrestled with this… Currently, I’m going back and updating posts, and I’m adding a note at the top with the date the post was updated. 

    I could hide the post, but that makes it difficult to trust the accuracy of the article (I write about online advertising and the ad networks are constantly changing). I could repost the article and redirect the original, but I worry about the thousands of social shares being lost. I could just recreate the article and change the format as suggested, but I’m not convinced that’s the best option. 

    I’d love to hear everyone else’s thoughts on this issue

  8. Frank_Strong says:

    Completely agree with the sentiment here Lisa.  If content is good, even if it’s older, it’s still good!  There’s nothing wrong with promoting evergreen.  Another idea is to take an old post and rewrite it.  Often my best ideas come after publishing a post; it’s okay to re-write something, but leave the original, with a date, in tact.

Speak Your Mind

*