In the case of blog-style sites, whether or not to display the dates of your blog posts is a perennial question for many site owners. It has even bigger ramifications if you’re developing multiple sites.
From my point of view both a) as a site developer and b) from the user point of view of doing a Google search for information, my general advice for this question is:
Yes! Display the dates of posts for sure.
This answer is dependent a little upon the type of field you’re blogging in: the faster-moving the field, the more likely you should display the dates of your posts.
To some, this reasoning might sound backward. You probably posed this question because you’re concerned about your posts going out of date, right?
And yeah, if this was the dawn of the internet, I’d say you’d be right not to display post dates.
But these days you actually have a huge advantage if you display post dates in a fast-moving field. Why? Because if someone does a Google search, for, say “Popular electronic gifts” and you have a blog post in the search results on that topic with a date listed within the last year, you’ll have a huge advantage over a) posts with older dates or b) posts with no dates on them. Users realize that things change quickly in just a few years. I’m sure you’ve seen posts written in 2014 in search results, and in a fast-moving field, you’d probably never click on those posts. Likewise, for a post with no date listed, people are similarly unlikely to click on it because they have no way of telling how recent it is.
Sure, there will always be bloggers who come along after you with more recent post dates in the field, but remember this isn’t the beginning of the internet. So you can relax knowing that the vast majority of your search result competition out there comes from older posts out there. In other words, simply by having your post date listed within the past few years, you already have a huge built-in advantage against the majority of your competition.
I did say there were exceptions, and if you cover a slow-moving field or topic, it’s less important to display post dates. One example may be a topic such as “Fall gardening tips”. Blog posts from 2009 may be just as applicable as today. Even then, you may still receive the same advantages from displaying the dates as you do in faster-moving fields, where people will perceive your post to have the more up-to-date information.
Ultimately, the question of displaying post dates is one that affects your click-through rates. It won’t necessarily affect your search engine rankings, but it can affect your click-through rates (people clicking on your article versus other articles on search results).
Even if you’re highly ranked on a topic, you still rely on someone clicking on your listing to actually receive organic search engine traffic to your site. So in a fast-moving field, a little psychology helps: having one of the more recent posts out there can increase your click-through rates, and displaying the post date will get you ahead of your older competition.
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