Why Your Tried-and-True Older Content is Losing You Traffic

Removing Dates in Google SERPs

Posted by

Around March of this year we saw decreased Google traffic coming to tried-and-true content that had brought us solid traffic for years. Things continued to decrease and we decided to investigate the cause. It appears that Google's use of dates in the SERPs had a markedly negative impact on our clickthrough rates.

About a month ago I read Graywolf's article that talked about removing dates from your blog/article posts. He said:

My recommendation is to remove any and all dates from the page after 3-6 months. Removing the post date from the article meta information area is easy. If you have comments, you have to monkey with the code to remove the date, or you can go hardcore and turn them off entirely. You need to remove any traces of publication dates from the page.
we removed dates from all posts older than 3 months old and the results were amazing.

Now that is a very interesting recommendation based on the assumption that google likes fresh content. We decided to put it to the test and we removed dates from all posts that were older than 3 months old and the results were amazing. Within 7 days Google had removed the dates from 95% of our posts in the SERPs. We also removed all dates from the comments that were older than three months old as well.

Removing Post Dates Increased Click Through Rates by over 8%

We tracked our Google referals for the month and we saw dramatic increases in traffic to our older content that ranks well, but was being affected by the negative older post date. Our Google traffic increased 8% immediately after the dates were removed from the SERPs and traffic continues to increase.

Our Google traffic increased 8% immediately...

Case in point. About two months ago I linked to an article from a comment I made on someone else's blog. Another commentor asked "why are you linking to a post made back in 2006?" The content was still valid even though the post date was over 4 years ago. It just reinforced my determination to remove older post dates from all of my blog posts.

As a side note. Graywolf mentioned a situation where Google appeared to be grabbing the post date from comments to put as the date it included in the SERPs. We also saw this happen on a few of our posts as well. We tracked it for a while and it appears that Google has tweaked the way it handles getting post dates from comments, because after about 3 weeks, those posts that had grabbed the date from the comments also had their dates removed in the SERPs.