Is it ever useful to put dates in online articles or blog posts? It depends, and here’s why.
Onawa: But I did wonder if it was useful to put in dates for style articles and things like that.
David: Yeah. That is kind of an SEO strategy kind of question. Right? Like, what are we trying to accomplish? From a strategic perspective, I prefer articles that are evergreen rather than date-specific. So, to have an article specific to a year is a great social media post but not a good search post. Right? And that kind of goes to the question of sometimes we want to write a different headline for our social media posts than we would for our SEO posts. Right? And so, when we just use the post that we write for a title tag in our blog post and put it on social media, it won’t perform as well that way. That being said, if something that you are writing about is very time-sensitive, like design trends or updates, I’ve seen date-specific posts do really, really well for certain clients. So, the first thing I’d start with is keyword research to see if people are searching for your topic as modified by a date. So, if we know that design trends would be too broad, then let’s say kitchen design trends of 2024. Well, we might not get people searching for that yet, but if we can see in the keyword research that people search for 2023, that suggests to us that in 2024, it would be there. But we also have to do some planning when we talk about that, too, because, for instance, we don’t want to put it in the URL. Because now, if we update that post for the next year, we’re going to have to change the URL and have to add a redirect. So, I would make sure the URL of that post was non-time specific. And then, I would change the title, the headline, and the content for the new year. This is something I do with The Google Analytics Study course. I’ll pull that up as an example. So, you’ll see the title is October 2023. Well, it’s November. This one’s already in progress. The URL does not have any date. The headline does. The title tag does. And then I have dates here. Right? Because the post is evergreen in nature, meaning the URL does not have a date, when I do the next study group, I edit the post. Thankfully, WordPress does not change the URL unless we tell it to. So, I just have to go in and say, January 2024. Then I can change the publish date to whatever today is. It not only updates the post, but by publishing it now, it pushes it forward in my blog queue so that people can see it. And it recycles it in my systems that automatically push it out and send it to the email list. Right? So, with this one, because it’s very time specific, because there is a certain time period that I’m aiming for, I’ve just built this in a way that I can make a couple of changes. Now, if this was design interior or kitchen design trends, you can approach it in the same way. But you need to remember to go back in a year and update it. Unless you can somehow determine that people do want to know what last year’s design trends might be, and you want some sort of record of that. But I don’t think people are going to look for 2020 kitchen design trends in 2023. Right?
Onawa: Right. Yeah.
David: So, in that case, it probably would be better to have some sort of approach where you can keep it evergreen but update it. So, you started by talking about the meta description. That’s just as easy to update like this. It doesn’t affect things like the URL the permanent nature of this. Now, also, just remember that meta description is not a ranking factor. Google doesn’t use the meta description. Google replaces the meta description half the time based on what it thinks you’re looking for. But having it in there, what a good meta description does is, if we’ve used keyword research to determine people looking for it and we have the keyword that we’ve determined people are most likely to look for, I’ve noticed that Google will keep our meta description in the search result if it includes the words that people are searching for. Okay. So, for instance, this is the 2023 Google Analytics Design Trends, and someone searches for 2024. Google might find this and serve it, but if we don’t say 2023 in the meta description, we don’t say 2024 in the meta description, then it might find something from the page and replace my meta description. But if I do have a meta description that’s up to date, it might keep that. And if it’s a good meta description, it increases the opportunity to get someone to click on our search results. So, that could help us. But simply changing the date in the meta description probably would not be enough to update this page to show up. That’s probably not going to do much. Does that give you some direction?
Onawa: Yeah. I think that helps.
David: Yeah. That’s an interesting question.
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