Dated Content Impacts Your Google Rankings?

Jan 10, 2014 • 8:35 am | comments (10) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google CalendarThere is an interesting thread that I am not sure if I am looking into too much. The Google Webmaster Help thread has a representative from Rasmussen College complaining that his business management degree page no longer ranks well in Google. Now that is not the interesting part, the complaint. :)

The interesting part is that he said it only started dropping in the rankings when Google decided to add a date in the search results to the snippet. Despite the page not having any date based information on it, despite the fact that the page is not article like content, despite the fact that the page is a sales page for the school - Google dated the page.

google date ranking drop

So John Mueller of Google simply responds:

Thanks for posting -- I've passed your feedback on to the team!

The question is, why did Google date the page? If it did, did that impact the rankings of the page or was it something else?

Clearly for QDF types of keyword phrases, articles that are old should not rank. But what made this page a dated page? What made the keyword phrase responsive to QDF?

I may be looking into the lack of information in John's post, a bit too much. But I figured I share it and see what you all had to say.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Previous story: Bug: Google's Search Results Go Missing For Some Users


Terry Van Horne

01/10/2014 01:49 pm

Of course it impacts the CTR considering the context in which the search is being done (judging by the bolded words in the search).... if someone is looking for a school I think seeing a 3-4yr old date on the result would affect my click decision since course information often changes. Consider the video would likely draw attention first but be passed over seemingly as "old info". I wonder if the video is how they are dating it?


01/10/2014 02:09 pm

Agreed with @terryvanhorne:disqus - the date is there for the UX. It would be interesting to know the date the piece was published. As webado alludes on the thread, I'd guess the SERPs date is the day it was indexed, not published. Has the guy submitted a re-crawl request (304, I think)? The sitemap is extensive and, given the date, his crawl budget may not extend back 4 years. If so, a simple re-crawl request may update the date if there's fresh content to be found. The drop in SERPs may also be connected with Google's intention to promote purely informative content over sales pages. Or other content just meeting best practices more accurately. There's certainly no definitive answer with the facts we have...

Michael Merritt

01/10/2014 02:16 pm

The date has always been a bit of a double-edged sword. Last I checked, the date indicates not when the content was created but when it was indexed by Google. So them adding a date for evergreen content is definitely an issue.

Subhash Prajapati

01/10/2014 04:08 pm

yes, some type of information are changes each and every year. So we need to change our website content accordingly.

Lisa Hosman

01/10/2014 08:17 pm

Yes, it looks like the date is actually part of the video snippet. If I do a search for "business management degree", there are only 2 results on the first page with dates, both shown in the image above - both have video results. The rest of the search results on page one do not have dates or video snippets. Besides, if the date was causing it to rank lower, wouldn't you think that the search result shown would put above as it is more recent?

Terry Van Horne

01/11/2014 04:40 am

That date that is 3 yrs old definitely has nothing to do with caching or indexing which is why I suspected it came from the video or video meta data. I can understand why when Google can attach a date to anything then it's QDF nature would be to start moving older content down the SERP. I have heard some other talk elsewhere about photgraphic meta data usage. Interesting find at the very least

Vikas Pratap

01/11/2014 05:24 am

Totally agree with Lisa Hosman, So if the dated content impact the google ranking then the result of devry[.]edu (july 27, 2011) should rank higher than rasmussen[.]edu (Apr 29, 2010)due to its freshness.

osman musa

01/11/2014 12:11 pm

Whike we are on the topic of dates, it seems that all of my most recent articles have authorship rich snillets while all of my older articles no longer do. Or maybe this is jist for mobile view since I am on my Note 3 phone a lot.

Mathew Porter

01/11/2014 03:28 pm

Very interesting if this was the main factor. I wonder if the page has any rich media data relating to dates.


01/13/2014 02:36 pm

I work for Rasmussen but didn't submit the thread to Google. I happen to know the video snippet featured is a video we created about two months ago.

blog comments powered by Disqus