Mueller: Why Updating Publishing Dates Of Content Is Not Beneficial
Some businesses and website owners think that changing a piece of content’s publishing date is enough to improve their Google SEO. However, Google’s John Mueller told Google SEO agencies that doing so will not benefit one’s search rankings at all if they do not make any significant changes to the content.
Mueller discussed the matter during a Google Search Central SEO hangout that was recorded on 1 April. A website owner asked him a question about changing the dates on their site’s image gallery every time they make minor changes. They wondered if there was any ranking benefit if they decided to update the photo’s publishing dates.
Although they were only concerned about their photo galleries, Mueller responded with a generalised answer, applying it to changing the publishing dates on all kinds of content. Many businesses and website owners think that Google rewards their webpages if they change publishing dates since it shows that they have published fresh content on their site. However, that is not how Google’s algorithm works.
Even in the past, businesses and webmasters have been changing published dates to give the reader the impression that the content was recently written. Readers have even complained about companies that change their articles’ publish date and date modified to make the content look recent, when it was actually written a long time ago.
Even famous websites like USA Today and BBC reportedly made use of this same technique in 2013 under the false impression that it would lead to better rankings. However, Google’s algorithm won’t be fooled by this simple trick – it knows when a piece of content was published, when the URL was discovered, and when the publishing dates and times were changed.
Mueller first discussed how changing publishing dates can affect user experience, even when one simply makes minor changes. Although webmasters can freely update the time and date on a page whenever they want, it can mislead the readers in some cases.
For instance, in the asker’s case, updating the publishing date can feel a bit awkward from a user’s point of view, especially if they are just shuffling the photos around in a gallery. Mueller continued to explain that changing the time and date on webpages does not improve their search results rankings in any way.
Mueller advised Google SEO agencies to just skip manually updating the time and dates every time they make a small change. Instead, should only update the publishing date when they have made significant changes to their content.
With all of this being said, Mueller did point out that changing the publishing time and date would not harm a webpage’s rankings. This comes as good news for those in the SEO community who use a CMS that does so automatically.
At the end of the day, the best thing that a business can do to improve their Google SEO rankings is to regularly publish fresh, relevant content instead of simply changing the publish dates of previously written articles. The best way to do this is to work with a reputable SEO company.
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