Publish Date, Last Updated, Query Deserves Freshness, & Google Fresh Rank

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That's very similar to a discussion @Steve Brownlie and friends had on their latest video. They saw similar results by only changing the date. Actually, thinking about that video is what made me look up this post.

What I'm curious about is, what if I don't change the date but have all posts say "Updated on". For example, I have a post with a publish date of Jan 1, 2018, the page currently reads "Published on Jan 1, 2018", if I did a blanket change to say "Updated on Jan 1, 2018" would that have a negative impact on that post? I'm not looking to cheat rather than wondering if using the blanket term "Updated on" even if the post date has changed would negatively impact anything.

Or would I be better of creating a line of code that says, if date modified, show "updated on" if not show "published on"?
I think some testing will be in order here, Ryan. While Google hasn't closed the loophole of simply updating the post date in Wordpress... I'm sure that is on the horizon.

With that said, true updates to existing pages have just about always provided a ranking boost for me since at least last September. I update the content of the post with more content, update outdated details, reoptimize TFIDF, etc. Then, I update the publish date in wordpress and save/update the post.

I'll typically see a ranking boost within 7 to 60 days from when the new update is indexed with no other links / seo changes.
 

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I'm not looking to cheat rather than wondering if using the blanket term "Updated on" even if the post date has changed would negatively impact anything.
That's what I did. Everything got changed from "Published on" to "Updated on". However, in the dashboard I still have the published date to sort by. I switched to a different function in Wordpress in the templates to grab the last updated date. I can't recall exactly what it is, but instead of the_date(); it's something else. I changed it on all of the templates site-wide. You can only find "Updated on" on my site now, whether that's posts or category pages.

Not all posts had been updated so they worked just like you said, and I saw no negative impacts. I don't think the wording matters so much as the date that is listed.
 
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in some users minds a newer list or information might be better - you start to see 2+ year old posts get less clickthrough which I guess feeds bad information back into the machine.
Could impact bounce rate and time on page as well.

With that said, true updates to existing pages have just about always provided a ranking boost for me since at least last September. I update the content of the post with more content, update outdated details, reoptimize TFIDF, etc. Then, I update the publish date in wordpress and save/update the post.

I'll typically see a ranking boost within 7 to 60 days from when the new update is indexed with no other links / seo changes.
Does that return the post to it's former ranking glory of when it was originally considered fresh? Or have you noticed better results because now you have post age, freshness and new content?

That's what I did. Everything got changed from "Published on" to "Updated on". However, in the dashboard I still have the published date to sort by. I switched to a different function in Wordpress in the templates to grab the last updated date. I can't recall exactly what it is, but instead of the_date(); it's something else. I changed it on all of the templates site-wide. You can only find "Updated on" on my site now, whether that's posts or category pages.

Not all posts had been updated so they worked just like you said, and I saw no negative impacts. I don't think the wording matters so much as the date that is listed.
That's exactly what I was wondering, thanks for the clarification!
 
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I added both dateModified and datePublished and now Google only shows datePublished, where as before Google showed dateModified.

That doesn't seem ideal.
 

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I added both dateModified and datePublished and now Google only shows datePublished, where as before Google showed dateModified.

That doesn't seem ideal.
Yeah, that's what I said throughout this thread. Google will get confused if you show them multiple dates. Even if you have a date in the content like explaining when a scientific article was published, there's a chance they'll grab that.

You want to show only the modified date if you're going to do this. I went as far as to use it in my category pages, homepage, everywhere. You only find dateModified on this site now, with the proper schema markup, though it seems Google isn't reading it due to the problems you're explaining.

I know Jäger in this thread said he does okay with relative dates like "4 weeks ago" for humans as long as the schema has the explicit date like 04-18-2018 in it, but Google definitely seems to be having hiccups with these dates. I see no reason to complicate things.
 
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Google asks for both.

I changed to what Distilled recommend (even years ago), which is dateModified in HTML and datePublished in a meta tag.
 
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I got a nice bump (+20%) on organic search by updating some key pages with new content and changing the date to read last modified.

Going to roll this out across all pages now beyond the initial top 10 trafficked pages.
 

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Here's a fun one:



This is why I don't worry about what Google says they want or do, and I run mini-experiments to determine it myself.

The context of this Twitter post was this:

Anil Thakur: As we are heading towards 2019, all Title tags on 31 dec will be changed to How to Rank in 2019 or To 100000 ways to Rank in 2019.​
John Mueller: As a user, recognizing that old content is just being relabeled as new completely kills any authority that I thought the author / site had. Good content is not lazy content. SEO hacks don't make a site great. Give your content and users the respect they deserve.​
Then it jumps into the tweet above.

The days of Matt Cutts and being vague, leaving out details, and maintaining plausible deniability are not over. If you take only what's in this Twitter thread, then I'd call the answer a blatant lie, since we have the results in this thread and know from their own discussion that some queries deserve freshness, etc. There's so much wiggle room here that they can later say "well what we meant was..."

But for anyone new reading that, it's pretty definitive.

Run your own tests!
 
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Are you guys in Google News? Might removing date published (even from meta) muck around with that?

From my own personal experience I just re-enabled this (ie showing last updated to users) as I thought my traffic dipped when I switched back to showing the original published date (which was sometimes over 2 years ago, but updated in the last few weeks).

On all posts on my site (Wordpress) I have the following in the source code but hidden via CSS (it's schema, inserted by my theme):

Code:
<time itemprop="datePublished" datetime="2017-05-21T00:55:44+00:00">2 years ago</time>

<time itemprop="dateModified" datetime="2018-05-09T21:53:18+00:00">2 weeks ago</time>
Then I have (again, inserted by my theme, but not as schema):

Code:
<span class="auth-posted-on"><time class="entry-date published mf-hide" datetime="2017-05-21T00:55:44+00:00">2 years ago</time><time class="entry-date updated" datetime="2018-05-09T21:53:18+00:00">2 weeks ago</time></span>
as the visible text the user can see.

In addition to the above, on news posts only (the site is in Google News) I have the following as part of Schema (this is done by me through custom code as I didn't think my theme's own schema was extensive/specific enough):

Code:
"datePublished": "6:33 pm, August 19, 2018",  "dateModified": "6:33 pm, August 19, 2018",
Now I'm kind of confused what I should be doing...
 
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Anyone have any idea how Google would handle dates/content from a site migration? Say from one CMS to another, where the dateModified gets changed?

Should be fine considering datePublished is the same, yes?
 
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Here's something I've noticed in my niche related to this. There is a few high DA sites that are in my overall niche (my site is focused on a sub-niche) that seem to be artificially increasing their rank by:

1. Publish article with keywords (fine)
2. In a month or so time, copy article, tweak slightly and repost with new URL
3. Redirect on URL from #1 to new URL
4. Improve rank (and the Google SERPS show the most recent published date of their most recent article).
5. Repeat process creating daisy chain or redirects OR update all redirects to most recent URL

Literally all they are doing is republishing the same article with some MINOR tweaks (if any) and I am assuming redirecting whatever old URL (they have dates in their URLs) to the new one. There is several big DA sites doing this now and they all appeared out of nowhere doing it too.

So all
 
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5. They're most likely updating all the redirects to the new url because you wouldn't want to create redirect chains. Google gives up on those after a while. You could verify that with screaming frog or wheregoes
 
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2. In a month or so time, copy article, tweak slightly and repost with new URL
Are you sure they aren't testing new URL slugs? Because content management systems like Wordpress auto-create 301's each time you change the slug. They may not be reposting as in deleting the old one and adding a new one, but simply changing the slug.
 
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Are you sure they aren't testing new URL slugs? Because content management systems like Wordpress auto-create 301's each time you change the slug. They may not be reposting as in deleting the old one and adding a new one, but simply changing the slug.
No they have dates in the slugs and those become more recent
 
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There was a plugin I had installed "Republish Old Posts " for wordpress basically what is does is give you a user interface to republish old posts features like finding the oldest post then reposting it and limiting it to one repost a day.
I have had this plugin going for about 6 months I havent seen anything statistically significant change but reading these comments I feel like it makes sense that if you update your modified date then a crawler is triggered and sees if the content has changed, rather than just the modified date with no change causing a difference, which would render this plugin essentially useless.

An interesting question to ask if the above assumption is true would be how much of your content actually needs to change to be accepted as the article being updated, 1 sentence? 1 paragraph? 250 words?

An idea I am kicking around is getting my writer to go through my articles adding 250 words to each and updating the wordpress published on date.
 

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I leave oryginal publication date as it is and never change it. Under the main title there is just date, nothing else, no words, no author. When I notice that fresh article is doing fine and after competition evaluation I see opportunity to ranki it in the top spots, then I do first update (once I see that it isn't moving any more). It always is article update with fresh content, that is text and most likely some images, sometimes link. I do add note however that this is "article update" with a date. That's it. I have a several articles right now that were updated this way a few times already, and all of them are doing great. One is now 7000+ words long and still seats in TOP10 for some good money making KWs). We are killing some olders articles from big players that looked like bomb prof seating there on the top spots for years. Actually, when I see old article in serp seating in TOP10 with a date sticked to it, for example like 2016, 2017 (or older) then I'm most likely than not, to go after it. When I don't see the date then I have a bit more work to do to find out what's going on. From this point of view placing a publishing date on article might actually make your competition's work "easier", but I don't worry about it that much becuose my articles always have a date sticked to it, but the ones that are performing well are taken care of constantly. The ones that are not performing at the moment, and/or are less capable of giving good ROI I just leave untouched.

Also, often I see guyes changing just the title of an old artcile, for example from "Best Tuscany villas 2016" to "Best Tuscany Villas 2018". Sometimes they will also update article with a few lines of fresh content. When I see something like this, and competitor powers are evaluated, I might go for it and prepare much better content that is really up to date (and making it really up to date means a lot... :wink: ).

I think this subject was touched remotly somwhere here https://www.buildersociety.com/forums/digital-strategy-crash-course.25/ I'm not sure.

An idea I am kicking around is getting my writer to go through my articles adding 250 words to each and updating the wordpress published on date.
That is a bad idea, unless your writer is doing it for free :smile: Or you have many writres doing it for free. Keep in mind ROI. Some articls are worth updating, linking etc. and some are not. Spending money on losers have no point other than killing your business.
 
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I leave oryginal publication date as it is and never change it. Under the main title there is just date, nothing else, no words, no author.
Interesting, for the theme I use on one site (divi) in wordpress I only have the option to change published on date. When you say under the main title do you mean you are manually typing in a changed date, not using schema or anything just inserting a line of text under the title saying "Updated on Month/day/year"
 
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I went through and changed the published date (and automatically the "updated" date) on some of my top Wordpress posts last month. Google picked them up and included the date in the SERPs and I think I saw a bit of a jump. I have recently gone through and done it again. I plan to do it every 2 weeks or so.

I am NOT changing the URLs though, which is different to what my competitors do when using this technique. They copy the article into a new post with a new URL and publish that, and then 301 redirect the old URL to the new one. Google then picks up and ranks the new URL with the new date for them.

I would like to see if it works without changing the URL. It appears it might but I don't know for how long. I would very much like to avoid having to deal with redirect chains etc. I also feel like I could trigger some sort of filter by doing this...

In fact if Google got rid of this entire thing (ranking fresher articles higher because they are supposedly more helpful - in my case they are NOT) that would be even better.
 
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Something to consider, if you're using product feeds on your site, you can get the date of the most recent custom post with a shortcode and embed with <time>. That way, you can have what looks like a legit product category page and tell Google when the products have been last updated. I figure that has to be valuable, if not now, then in the future.
 
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Well my competitors are continuing to do this and continuing to rank. They do not even bother to change the content or title. Just copy and paste to a new post in WP (URL includes date) and redirect old posts to new one. I can count back they do this roughly ever 2-4 weeks for the last 7-8 months.

They are KILLING IT in the serps for my niche out of nowhere since last year. They are a big site but I can't work out why they are doing so well for the life of me. I am not suggesting that this "hack" is responsible for their rankings, but it certainly helps.

BTW I also found some Google commentary on this practice:

From our perspective, from Core Ranking perspective, I’d like to believe that in some way that will hurt you. At least from, let’s say, we will not believe your dates anymore.

Typically when you search something, especially if it is newsy content, or your query is newsy, then I found that those date bylines in the search results can be very helpful in determining if it is relevant to your query – the result – or not.

Imagine if you were a news publisher and suddenly your byline dates would be gone overnight because we believe you were abusing them, you probably don’t want that. So I would advise against that.
"I’d like to believe that in some way that will hurt you" - Yeah, nah....

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-changing-article-dates/225789/