Will Older Article Post Dates Hurt Your Rankings in Google?

Apr 15, 2011 • 1:16 pm | comments (14) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under

Most articles or blog posts have a post date or publication date, a date listed on the page such as "Apr 15, 2011 - 2:05 pm" stating the time which the original content was first posted. It's a helpful signal for users to identify how timely and relevant an article is. But how useful is that date to Google's algorithm? Is it helpful or used at all (for ranking in a QDF query for example)? Does Google use it in addition to other factors just as date of page last modified, discovery date/first crawled, etc..?

A thread was started on WebmasterWorld by a webmaster with a very large content rich site that was hit by the Panda Update. He describes how he hides the publication date of his articles with Javascript and forces Google to use the Last Modified date for his content. He is trying to avoid older post dates from showing up in the search results. He said this has been working great for the last year, until the Panda Update hit. Google started using the original publication date even though it was hidden with Javascript (its very likely Google could read this). The webmaster is wondering if the older content (2004-2007) that Google is now seeing is pulling down his rankings.

It's very unlikely and could be a result of many things such as content attribution and his content not being as unique as he believes. Tedster agrees as well saying:

I doubt that the dates are a big factor here... I know that we have a lot of threads about Panda to stay up with, but the summary is that Panda did NOT lower rankings based on any single factor. instead it is a mix of factors, not all of which are currently identified.

Among those who are studying the actual data, no one has found even a low level correlation between dates and lowered rankings.

No correlation observed yet. It's not to say that is not possible however. Finally, forum member Goodroi has some good points worth mentioning. He says:

"I have seen manipulating the dates to be more recent leads to a higher CTR. A higher CTR could possibly help with rankings but I wouldn't blame old dates for ranking problems. "

Continued forum discussion on WebmasterWorld

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Michael Martinez

04/15/2011 06:41 pm

There are certainly people who have been trying to hide older article dates to create EverFake content (content that pretends to be "Evergreen"). I see plenty of traffic for articles that are 5-10 years old regardless of the dates they were published. Of course, there ARE some types of queries where only recent information is relevant -- the danger of creating EverFake content is that you may promote an outdated or dangerous idea into search prominence. That is simply irresponsible.

S.E. Troll

04/15/2011 08:07 pm

Question: how has any blogger been writing for so long without gaining a loyal core audience? One can assume he has been at this for quite some time if he feels the need to hide the date of publication. Sweet Sergey! People are lying about their publication dates for click-throughs? Lies as a way of doing business. This is exactly why I have come to contemplate slicing my arms open in my cubicle lest I show up the next day to work in this wretched industry. The Sergey, The Larry, The Holy Google. Deliver me from SEO. Amen.


04/16/2011 03:54 am

I hide the post date on my evergreen content, simply because the date has nothing to do with relevancy and publishing it could detract from the content's value in the eyes of the user. As far as bots go, it makes no difference. Google knows when they first discovered the content, and for those who use XML sitemaps, don't forget about those dates...

David McClellan

04/18/2011 12:24 am

Good read. The correlation between dates and Google ranking is something that I have been wondering about for while. Thanks for elaborating on it.

Anirban Das

04/18/2011 05:47 am

I dont think Google will devalued the older article dates and confident with tedster's comment on that issues,because specially after pandate(panda+update) , I was looking for some tips about some specific technical issues I found,lots 2003,2004 forum thread post out ranking most recent threads, its very annoying from IMO,which I didnt faced before panda on Google seach..

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04/18/2011 08:04 am

Interesting!!! In My Opinion Dates are not a Big Factor Here.. Although Google Might Prefer Recent articles and they can generate more CTR comparable to older Articles..

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04/18/2011 09:06 am

I agree with the comments above,what ever the publication date is for an article if its unique and not copied it will give you worth for sure in rankings.

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04/18/2011 09:06 am

I don't think that google will devalued articles,I think you should work on articles after panda wisely it will help you to improve your ranking.

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04/18/2011 01:29 pm

I agree, I cant see older publication dates being a huge factor. I think that it is unlikely that older dates are to blame for lower rankings because although the content may not be as relevant as it once was it still adds to the history of the website. If age of domain is a strong factor in ranking well you would also think that older published articles and content would also contribute to that regardless of the articles current relevance. After all the if the published date is visible then site visitors as well as bots know when the article was created and it really shouldn't impact the rankings. There is a ton of old information on the web and sometimes people are still looking for that information so why would that hurt your rankings. Thanks for the great post!


04/18/2011 05:01 pm

I would think high quality, unique content would not be devalued. If it is then their logic is flawed.

Michael Martinez

04/18/2011 05:27 pm

Dude, Disqus links aren't even indexed.

Barry Schwartz

04/18/2011 05:32 pm

:) good SEO


04/19/2011 10:56 am

Good content is good content and it is always new the first time you visit any site for the first time.


09/06/2011 10:24 pm

I would be interested to know what the perception here is of modified articles, for example on our security site, we are constantly updating articles based on the change in security trends. Not "new" content, but more valuable then reposting the same old drivel again and again.

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