Let’s talk about whether or not you should have dates on your posts. Including – should they be visible to readers or just for Google? Should the dates be today or the day it was published? Or modified? Or the date that the event takes place (if your post is about an event)?
Publishing and Modifying Dates in WordPress
My take has always been to ignore dates unless you have date-sensitive content. If your readers want to see dates, post them. If it is irrelevant to them, then don’t. This falls in line with a simple SEO adage:
Google wants to show the best result. So be the best result.
However, we also know that Google prefers ‘fresh’ content. So what is the best course of action, assuming that you are already keeping the reader first in mind?
Post Dates and Structured Markup
If you do already include the date visibly on your post then also include the time zone, taking into account Daylight Savings Time. And use the right schema – whether datePublished or dateModified. SEO by Yoast plugin users will have this automatically in the posts.
Refreshing Old Posts
If you want to refresh and publish old articles for SEO benefit, and also because they haven’t seen the light of day in two years, then which date you use depends on how much you’ve modified the post.
- If your article is modified significantly, put it in draft, schedule a future date, and schedule. This will automatically publish it with a new datePublished. Don’t forget to then create a 301 forward from the old post link to the new one.
- If there are minor modifications just update the post and when you publish it, the dateModified will be updated and the datePublished will remain the original.
- In both cases, it should be clear to the reader that the post is modified and re-published.
News Articles & Time Sensitive Posts
- For News articles you should use the correct structured data with the help of a plugin.
- Always include the date and time.
- The date and time must be on the page beneath the Article Title and before the content.
- Use the ISO 8601 format for dates.