By default, the date that a post has been published is usually displayed right under the title of the post as well as in the comments.
At first this might seem to be a really good idea but let’s examine why you might want to re-think this as an option. What happens when search engines display your listing in the search results?
That’s right, the publication date of your post is displayed before the description of your page content. The merits or otherwise of this fact are just a few of the issues to consider before deciding whether or not to display the date on your posts.
Reasons Why You Might Want to Include the Publication Date
- If there is no date, then there is no guide to visitors as to how up-to-date the information is.
- Some posts may be dependent on chronological order.
- Some posts may need to be given a date context to make sense, such as news items.
Reasons Why You Might Want to Remove the Publication Date
- If the date is included under the post title, then the Search Engines will usually pick it up and then display it in the Search Engine results as shown in the image above.
As you can see, the date appears before the description and can very well serve to act as a filter that browsers use in deciding which sites to click through to.
- If the date appears first in the results, before the description, then the end of your description may be truncated because the length allowance has been used up.
- The date can give the wrong impression about what might be timeless information. In other words, if your post that was written 2 years ago is still relevant today, then you don’t want to dissuade people from reading it by inviting them to make a pre-judgment based on the year appearing at its beginning. The content could still be just as relevant today.
- Many bloggers observe an increased click through rate to their site from the Search Engine Results page after removing the date.
- By removing the date, you can avoid giving the impression that older posts lack credibility. In other words, older posts are less likely to be discarded before the content is examined.
- Readers are more likely to comment on posts that they perceive or believe are more recent.
Should Posts include the Date or Not?
Jim Connelly from www.internetmarketingjam.com conducted a very interesting experiment in which he tested the efficacy of not including the date over a 30 day period. He found that there was a definite increase in the number of posts that were read and concluded that there was a strong correlation between the number of posts that were read and those that did not display a date
In making up your mind, you need to ask yourself does the post contain timeless information or is it time-sensitive such as release of a news item? There are some blogs, of course, for which it might make sense to include the date if the information is indeed time-sensitive.
Of course, you still have the option of including the date manually in selected posts if you feel it makes more sense.
Alternatively, you could opt to display the updated date rather than the published date so that the reader is reassured that the information is current.
When I first started this blog, I had a preference for removing the date from the beginning of my posts but allowing it to appear in the comments. That way, I avoided the date appearing in SERPs but still allowed my readers to scroll down to the end of the post if they wished to place it in a date context. I think this, at least, was a courtesy move and one that I appreciated myself when reading other blogs.
However, since then, I have found a better solution and that is displaying a modified date instead of the published date if the post has been updated. I think this is the better of both worlds.
But, your requirements and preferences mgiht be quite different from mine. So if your preference is to remove the date from posts altogether, please read on.
How to Remove the Date from Posts
There are a number of ways of doing this.
- If you are comfortable with coding. you can edit index.php and remove the call to a function that displays the date:
<?php the_time() ?>
Your function call may have some variables (words) inside the brackets.
- You can also follow suggestions in your theme’s support forum or support pages to find out how to edit the code.
I found the support forum very helpful for my theme from StudioPress. It simply involved commenting out 1 line of code.
- Alternatively, you can install a WordPress plugin to remove the date from older posts for you: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-old-post-date-remover/
I hope this post helps you decide which way you would like to go with respect to whether or not to display the publication date on your blog posts.