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“I ask this because the downside is that people think your content is outdated even if it may be evergreen (always relevant regardless of how old it is),” said Neher who is the author of Visual Social Media for Dummies.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“Update your content  for posts older than two years old and update the date… use some fresh content and stop leaving outdated crap online for no reason.”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?