John Mueller Says Update the Dates On Your Content


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by Clint ButlerDigitaleer

(SEO This Week – February 7, 2022) – Freshness in the search results has long been thought of as a possible ranking factor but SEOs and publishers alike. Google News is a great example of a service provided by Google that significantly relies on fresh content. So, it’s natural for SEOs to wonder if freshness plays a significant role in all of the search results.

Significant being a keyword in that statement, as you’ll read later.

As far back as one can remember there have been questions about changing the date of web pages to get the page to rank higher, specifically changing the publish date. There are even a few plugins for WordPress that would change the publish date of every page on a blog every day, and they worked. Probably still do for a lot of users in the right markets.

But what are the right markets?

News is definitely one market that relies on freshness, but that’s a softball. Even product reviews rely on freshness, especially now with Google going after the Product Review market to monetize their rich snippets while keeping affiliates out of the search engine results.

A simple way to check if your market is leveraging freshness is to monitor the published dates in the search results, if new content keeps getting pushed to the top of the pile, then freshness is a concern for you.

Does that mean you need to write new content all the time?

Probably not.

There is that word again, “significantly”.

The real question is, what defines significantly?

Is it changed word count?

Is it added word count?

Is it that the facts changed and you reversed positions?

Is it measurable at all?

When working with a page in a market that doesn’t specifically appear to be using freshness Google indexed and cached the changes made to a page, however, 5 days later they have yet to apply those to the search results.

That page received 500 new words, title tag change, meta description changed, images were optimized, and an infographic was added, certainly significant. But not significant enough it seems?

In other applications, complete rewrites of old content were done, the published date was updated, and rankings increased.

So the question remains, is changing the date enough for pages in markets where freshness is important? Or do you need to completely rewrite content, even though a rewrite might not be needed, just to keep pace in a fresh search world?

Clint Butler
Clint Butler
With more than 15+ years’ of Agency Owner experience working as an advanced SEO, I help companies scale their business with the best content strategies and digital marketing campaigns.


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