In this article, I’ll answer these questions by examining how key influencers in the SEO and digital marketing industry treat date stamps, and I’ll discuss my strategy for combating outdated content.
Conrad O’Connell, digital marketing strategist and consultant, has recently encountered an interesting “fake freshness” case.
The case was instructive of several principles that apply to retroactive effective dates.
The IRS sought to apply the retroactive date – and the taxpayers argued that such a retroactive date would be an unenforceable backdating of a document and should be ignored. It is interesting that this is the opposite of what you would expect – normally it is the taxpayer that wants to use the prior effective date and the IRS seeking to ignore it.
Conrad confirms that he’s seen some pages with a CTR as high as 55 percent after a simple update to the month and year in their title tag.
And, date manipulation in SERP meta descriptions isn’t currently penalized, this benefit comes at little personal risk.
Upon further examination, it appears that various Airbnb pages auto-generate fake dates that roughly correspond to the last time Google crawled them.
The benefit of changing article dates like this is subtle, and it doesn’t obviously improve your SEO (the date listed in your SERP meta description won’t inherently impact your freshness).