Last month I wrote an article on how to remove dates from search engine results, and I explained how it decreased CTR. In that article, I focused more on CTR than on search engine ranking.
Also, in my earlier article on how to recover from Google Panda, I mentioned that removing dates will have a positive impact on your ranking, and your ranking will improve. This created lots of buzz in the blogosphere. I decided that this is something we could test on ShoutMeLoud, so I put the dates back on my blog posts to see if it would have any impact on my blog traffic.
This case study will allow me to illustrate for you how my blog traffic was impacted, and to explore some possible solutions to the issues at hand.
How adding dates to blog posts impacted my keyword ranking:
Last week I added the dates back onto ShoutMeLoud blog posts, as obviously it gives a good user-experience. As you may know, ShoutMeLoud is a 5-year-old blog, and I have posts dated from 2008. From the perspective of someone conducting a search, I would definitely prefer to read a post which has been published recently. In fact, when searching I often click on links which are either dated recently or have no dates at all.
When I added the dates back onto my blog posts, my blog traffic dropped by almost 40%.
On average, I get 10,000 page views every day, but after adding the dates, my page views dropped to an all-time low of 5,757. I am currently using SEMRUSH to track my keyword ranking, and I saw a drop of almost 101 keywords, and hardly any improvement on any keyword.
I continued this test for four days, and my traffic continued to decline. Here is a screenshot of the blog’s stats:
My keyword tracking tool showed me what went wrong after adding the date stamps to my blog posts. So, after running this test I removed the dates, and doing so caused my traffic to climb right back up. You can also see improvement in keyword ranking after removing the date stamp:
The orange rectangle shows the decline in keyword ranking after adding the dates back, and the last column shows current ranking. Currently I’m seeing all keyword ranking improving, and I’m also seeing continued growth in traffic with each passing day.
Conclusion of this case study:
We’ve already established that blog post dates enhance user-experience. At the same time, however, this case study has clearly shown that if dates are displayed in Google SERP’s, keyword ranking and blog traffic are negatively impacted. The best practice would be to show dates to your user, but not to search engines!
- Use image based dates.
We all have the choice of whether or not to show post dates. In making that choice, however, we must all decide whether to hide the date knowing that user-experience is affected, or whether to show the date and watch our search engine rankings decline.
In case you need more food for thought to make your decision, here are few more case studies for your consideration:
- Google page rank 3 for a site with no content (case-study)
- How to index a website in 24 hours (case-study)
Let us know whether you show your post dates or not, and what method you use if you display dates to the user but hide them from search engines.