When it comes to Google, they show dates on their search results page for organic search snippets when its own algorithm determines that it would be relevant and helpful to the searcher.
The truth is that dates on search engine results pages play a very important role and have a big impact on click-through rates.
Put simply, we tend to click on newer search results.
Google has guidelines when it comes to communicating dates to its algorithm. They include tips such as: using structured data to make the date more apparent; choosing a standard format and selecting the right time zone.
It goes on to say that including a publish date and time increases the chance of a page appearing in Google News results.
Yet the key when it comes to dates is that it is recent dates that drive clicks.
So what should you do with outdated snippets?
First of all, never hide the date as a general rule. One tip is to update dusty content to keep it relevant.
Even if you wanted to hide the dates to a page, it would be pointless doing so. John Mueller from Google once tweeted back in May that “Even when you publish something without a date, Google still keeps time.”
Updating content on a regular basis is actually an important organic search tactic.
But that means edits that are substantial because changing one or two words won’t cut it.
“If an article has been substantially changed,” according to Google, “it can make sense to give it a fresh date and time. However, it’s against our guidelines to artificially freshen a story when the publisher didn’t add significant information.
“It’s also against our guidelines to create a very slightly updated story from a previously published one, then delete the old story and redirect to the new one.”
So make sure that changes are substantial. Changes such as adding new data, updating links, rewriting key sentences.
But which pages to edit?
Not all content needs to be updated regularly. So there’s no need to revolutionize your entire content catalog.
PS: ArganoUV is one of the world’s leading digital products & experiences development & strategy teams. Contact us to see how we can work together.