Should you remove the date (timestamp) from your blog posts?

BLOGGING, Format

Nowadays you may notice that a number of blogs does not carry any indication of year, month and date on the blog post’s permalink (link url) as well as on the blog content.

This makes it very difficult to tell precisely when the blog post was published and to know if the information is still relevant or not.

Let me share from my personal experience and what I learnt from removing the timestamp from my blog posts.

My experiment with removing the timestamp from one of my blogs:

 

Folks who started blogs years ago usually have the permalink structure consisting of year, month and date. The permalink would combine based on the yyyy/mm/dd/title-of-the-article.

I also had a number of smaller blogs which I noticed the number of visitors had dwindled. At first, I thought it was due to the older dates on the articles which does not interest visitors.

Time stamp in blog posts

Therefore, I changed the permalink structure of that blog to exclude date, and downloaded a plugin to do 301 redirects (as I still have searches arriving to the old permalink).

What I did was I analyzed the pages that visitors landed on via Google Analytics> Behaviour> Pages and then obtain the url of those pages. From the redirection plugin, I inputted the old url to have it point to the new url.

To take care of other pages, I did up a custom 404 page using Thesis theme so that visitors who landed to non valid pages would be able to view some useful content that they may want to click on.

As I am removing the date, I also went through EVERY single post to check and update its content. At the same time, I was assigning custom pages just like what I am doing for this blog.

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Not only I removed the timestamp from the permalink, I also removed the post published date from the byline (top part of the post). Meaning, when someone searched the result, the blog post date would not even show in the search results.

The results:

To keep the blog going, I published a few blog posts and started scheduling posts.

There are some who reported increase in traffic, and I regret listening to them and went through the whole fiasco of removing dates on the permalink and doing redirects.

And overall, I did not feel good about doing it. I am also an avid reader of other people’s blogs and honestly, I do get quite annoyed when there is no telling if the information is still valid because I do not know when the post was published. It made me doubt the information.

In the end, I decided placed back the date below the title so that readers know the age of the article. Even with the dates, it did not cause a further drop in visitors.

I fully agree with a post from WPBeginner on why we should not remove the date from the blog post. It is not fair to readers and it is also not fair as it is almost impossible to ensure all articles are error free- if we remove the dates we surely need to go in and maintain those articles on a constant basis.

In an article called 30 Things I Absolutely Hate About Your Blog, the first on the list is also about hiding dates from blog posts.

Conclusion:

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I find it better and more ethical to indicate the date on your blog posts. If you decide to amend the permalink structure not to display the date, it is better to indicate the date on the top of the post so that visitors know the date that you publish the article.

Granted, it is okay to change the permalinks structure to omit the year, month and date if we have originally set up the blog with a datestamp. However for the sake of user experience, it would be better to include the timestamp.

However, I have decided to maintain the permalink structure of dates for my large blogs that already contained hundreds of articles.  What I did is for popular posts that is time sensitive, I would periodically review the content and indicate the last updated date on the article. With this, the site continues to bring in visitors even though the article have been a few years old.

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