Whatever the goals of your blog, there are many elements that can affect its effectiveness. Apart from the actual quality of your content, there’s an important detail that often gets overlooked: the timestamp. Some blogs include one and others don’t. But what’s the right option for your blog?
To Date or Not to Date?
HubSpot, Moz, TechCrunch, Mashable and Business Insider all show the dates on their blog posts. But if you only run a small business blog, does it really matter whether you show the date or not? The short answer is – it depends.
There are various benefits of including publication dates on your blog posts. Crucially, it shows readers that the information they’re reading is up-to-date and, therefore, still very relevant. This is important, especially if they’re researching the best product available or looking for trending news. Put another way, the absence of dates could hinder the credibility of your content and cause many readers to not even read your content.
However, this doesn’t mean that dates are always the best way to go. There’s often a prejudice against information that appears to be “old” and, even with evergreen content, an old date may cause some visitors to view your content as outdated information and dismiss it.
So dates can be good and bad.
What Do Other Bloggers Do?
For some people, using timestamps on their blog negatively impacted user engagement. Digital marketing strategist Mack Collier reinserted dates to his posts for one month and found that his blog traffic started falling. In fact, his search and Twitter traffic dropped by around 25%.
Harsh Agrawal from the ShoutMeLoud blog added dates back to his blog posts and his traffic fell by almost 40%. However, he acknowledges that not having dates can negatively impact the user experience.
Darren Rowse from the Digital Photography School blog thinks that not showing the date gives the perception of “freshness.” He removed timestamps and noticed that his “old” posts received more links and comments over time.
Evergreen Vs. Time-Sensitive Content
There are certain types of blog posts you should almost certainly timestamp: reviews, news, seasonal content and opinion pieces. These posts need a date to help readers understand the context and relevancy of your content.
In terms of building traffic and links, evergreen content is incredibly valuable. There could be an argument for not including dates in evergreen content since it will likely be viewed more often at later dates and a date could cause it to become less valuable as the years go by. But I would argue that you should be updating and republishing your evergreen content before that would become an issue.
Test What Works For You
One of the best ways to decide whether to timestamp your blog is to track engagement data. Try A/B testing with and without timestamps to see what kind of a difference it makes to your bounce rate and time on page.
Ultimately, when it comes to adding timestamps to your blog, you should do what you feel is best for your blog and your readers. What works for one blog may not work for another.