Changing Content Dates Could Hurt You, Says Google’s Gary Illyes

Articles that have more recent dates listed next to their Google search result snippets may benefit from a higher click-through rate. However, even if an article clearly has a click-through rate, Google may not show the date.

As content creators worry that their evergreen content could be overlooked due to an older publish date, they have resorted to continuously updating or manipulating their publish date to make the content seem “fresh.”

While this is a common practice for some, there could be consequences. The main concern centers around the triggering of a spam filter for changing the dates or Google completely removing dates from the site.

Gary Illyes, Google Webmaster, shared his insight this month at the State of Search conference in Dallas. According to Illyes, he hints that this date changing practice will have a negative impact, as Google will no longer believe your dates.

He went on to explain that when news content is searched for, the published date can be extremely helpful in determining the relevance of the article. So if Google detects that you are changing your dates, they may remove all published dates, making it difficult for someone to understand the relevance of your content.

While Illyes does caution against this practice, he does mention that changing the date a few times won’t impact your site. However, if a publisher is doing this widely across their site, it’s likely they will experience the consequences. At the very minimum, Google is considering something to punish those who behave in this way.

If a publisher is wanting to follow best practices, Illyes recommends instituting a time stamp system so a publisher can clearly show when new or updated information has been added to the post.

He also recommends considering if publish dates are important for the type of content. An article covering marketing trends in a specified timeframe might require a date but an article on marketing trends over time may not.

This advice also came with his statement that removing low-quality pages on your site won’t necessarily boost your website’s visibility.

If you’re wondering how this might affect your website’s content, reach out to Hall Analysis for information on how to combat this issue.

About Jaclyn Simek Landers

Jaclyn is a writer and social media strategist and has worked with brands like Sarpino's Pizzeria, FR8, Burger King, and Red Bull.

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