A question that gets asked a lot in blogging circles is whether or not the date should be included in blog posts. There are a lot of arguments for and against, and no one seems to have a definitive answer.
I always keep the dates on my posts, as you can see. So I thought I’d weigh in on the discussion and explain why I do.
1. It’s A Good Advertisement
One of the services I offer is blog post writing, so it makes sense that my own blog serves as proof of my skills.
But the ability to write ablog post is not the only thing I’m offering. The ability to write blog posts consistently and on time is an essential part of the service. No one wants to hire a blog writer who can’t meet a deadline.
So including the dates on my blog posts shows that I can keep up to date with a blog and post regularly. If I didn’t have the dates, potential clients would have no way of knowing how often I post and might be sceptical of my timekeeping abilities.
2. It’s an Excuse to Rewrite or Re-Purpose a Post
Coming up with new blog post and content ideas is hard. Sometimes my brain is just mush and doesn’t want to think of a new topic. That’s where old content comes in.
Having dates on your posts can sometimes mean that people don’t want to read it. It can seem outdated even if the information itself is still relevant. So posts that may have gotten a lot of traffic when they were first published might have slowed down a couple of years later.
But that doesn’t mean the information in, and the message of the post isn’t still useful, it might just need a bit of an update. So rewriting the post or repurposing it into a video or infographic, while linking back to the original post, is a great way to get traffic going back to the original post, as well as traffic to the new post.
This also makes you look good to the readers because it shows that you’re still researching topics rather than just writing one piece and never looking at it again. So you get more traffic and you look like an industry expert. Win-win.
3. My Bounce Rate Doesn’t Go Off the Scales
An argument against using dates on your blog posts is that it can be detrimental to your SEO. The logic is that if your post comes up in a search, but the date is older than some other posts, then people will automatically not click on it because it’s seen as outdated compared to others.
This means that people aren’t even clicking through to find out if your post is relevant purely based on the date alone.
While this argument has some truth you have to look at the bigger picture.
It’s not all about click-through-rate, there are other important metrics to keep an eye on as well, such as bounce rate. You can have the highest CTR imaginable, but if people aren’t staying on your page then your bounce rate is going to be just as high.
A problem with not putting dates on your blog posts, and therefore not having them on the search engine results page, is that while people might click on your link thinking it’s relevant, it might not be.
Not all content is evergreen. If someone clicks on your post and it’s not up to date, they’re going to click back out again pretty quick. Some of my content is relatively time-sensitive, like Facebook tips that might go out of date, or productivity tools that might no longer be available. So my bounce rate on those posts would skyrocket if I didn’t make sure people knew when they were written.
While it’s true that some people might not click on your post if they see an older date, they might click straight out of it again if there’s no date. And if you’re not bothered about your bounce rate then consider the fact that the reader might feel misled if they feel that your un-dated content isn’t relevant anymore. They’re not going to go back to your website in a hurry after that, so you’ve just lost a potential customer.
4. It Makes Researching Easier
As a copywriter I do a lot of research. So anything that makes that easier is good in my book.
When I’m searching for information online I want it to be as up to date as possible, so my clients and I look like we know what we’re talking about. We don’t want research that’s years old and completely out of date. So most of the time I only look at articles that are a year or two old.
Now I know that might seem like a reason to take the dates off your blog posts because then a researcher is more likely to click on it. But wait, I’m not done yet.
If I come across a post that has no date on it I don’t click on it at all. I don’t trust it to be up to date. It might be the most relevant piece of content in the universe, but I will not click on it because it might also be a pile of crap. I don’t want to slog my way through a whole post only to find out at the end that the information isn’t relevant anymore. It’s a waste of my time, and I’m not the only one who thinks like this either.
So not having dates might not be helping your CTR as much as you think.
Those are the reasons why I, personally, keep the dates on my blog posts.
Obviously other people have reasons for keeping them off, and if that’s what works for them, then great. You need to find out what works for you.
Try taking the dates off your posts for a few weeks (or vice versa if you already have them off) and see what happens. Just make sure to keep an eye on all of your metrics, not just your CTR. The bigger picture is what’s important when it comes to your blog.