I have a vivid memory of one day in 2nd grade recess, outside on the playground on a hot, dusty, west Texas day, hearing one of my 2nd grade classmates say a word I had never heard! Ha, now it’s a word that’s said day in and day out by lots of folks!
But not back in 1974!
Well, guess what I did? Went home and repeated what I had heard on the playground. Following the lead of my 2nd grade classmate 🙂
Uh-oh! Didn’t go over so well with my mom!
And guess what? It’s easy to fall into a similar trap and follow what you see others doing online. Not realizing it’s hurting rather than helping you.
Perhaps you’ve seen other folks removing the dates from their posts and are considering doing the same. Or perhaps you’ve already followed suit. If so, this post is for you.
Let’s explore why it’s important to keep the dates on your blog posts and the benefits it provides for both you and your audience.
How keeping the publish date helps build trust
You have a website, along with countless millions of others!
Yea, pretty competitive.
But you also understand how important it is to create regular content so hey that gives you a step ahead. Again, though, there’s a literal sea of content out there so how the heck are you going to stand out?
By building trust with your reader, and one of the ways you do this is by being transparent.
When you’re transparent with your readers, they see you as credible, which helps you create a loyal readership. Knowing they can trust you, readers are more likely to return to your site and to share your content, which helps you build a faithful following and grow your audience.
It seems a small thing, the publish date — something the reader may not miss until it’s gone — but it goes a long way in building trust and loyalty.
The Publish Date and SEO
You know what Google and other search engines care about?
Providing users with answers to their queries.
Sure, some answers are “outside of time” (what is 2 x 2) but tons of queries are not and the publish date lets search engines know whether your answer is relevant and up-to-date.
And since search engines prioritize fresh content in their search results, the publish date on your posts can improve your rankings in search results.
So, don’t be like me in 2nd grade, blindly following the other student. Instead, be smart and keep your publish date visible for all to see.
The publish date provides lots of benefits, both for you and your readers
Probably the most important benefit is the publish date provides context. Nothing happens in a vacuum, including what we write, and knowing when a post was written allows the reader to better evaluate and understand the content.
It shows you are being transparent with your readers and trusting them to evaluate the value of the content. It’s actually a way of honoring your readers, which clearly helps in building a faithful band of followers.
Which encourages engagement. Folks will be more likely to comment or share your post if they know when it was written and they trust you as a content creator.
And, as explained above, it helps with SEO since search engines prioritize fresh content in their search results.
All these benefits can help you build a strong brand and a loyal following.
So Why Do Some Bloggers Remove the Date?
Some bloggers do choose to remove the publish date despite the many benefits outlined above. Here are some of the common reasons along with my suggested alternatives.
Does old content mean outdated and irrelevant, at least in the minds of the readers? Some content creators seems to think so, removing the publish date with the hopes of making their content appear fresh and current.
I suggest — rather than remove the publish date — update the post and include the “last updated” date.
Of course, this does require updating any outdated content you have and keeping it fresh and current, but it’s a better long term strategy than leaving outdated content minus the publish date!
What about appearance? Some folks may feel feel removing the publish date gives their blog a cleaner, more minimalist appearance. Sure, that might be the case if the post layout is not designed well but a better approach would be to improve the design rather than delete the publish date.
You can even use a smaller font or move the publish date to a less prominent area to improve the appearance,
How about SEO? Can I make my content appear fresh and current to search engines by removing the date?
Unfortunately, no. Google knows when a piece of content was first indexed, even without a date,
Remember, search engines only “care” about providing the most relevant and current answers to a user’s query so updating your content and including the “last updated” date (rather than removing the date) can help improve its search engine ranking.
And finally, some folks may choose to remove the publish date simply because they’ve seen others do it.
Not a good strategy 🙂 instead, focus on the needs and preferences of your own audience.
Be transparent with your readers and let them know when your content was written and if it’s been updated. This transparency builds trust and credibility with your audience, which in turn helps you build a build a strong and vibrant tribe of readers.
And while there may be some seemingly valid reasons to remove publish dates from a blog, I believe the benefits of keeping them far outweigh the concerns.
2 thoughts on “Transparency in Blogging: Why You Want to Keep the Publish Date”
Great post, Yael!
This is key “…focus on the needs and preferences of your own audience.”
When I don’t see dates on posts, I automatically assume it’s not current and move on (i.e, no trust) – and that’s just coming from the human side of things, let alone the value of publishing for SEO purposes.
Thanks for jumping in here, Kim. Yea, the publish date really is one of those things not missed until it’s gone but its absence leaves a noticeable (even if subconscious) impact on the reader. Sometimes it’s the ‘seemingly’ small things that make a big difference and the publish date is definitely one of those!