Today, I googled through some issues I want to get enlightenment about and I found myself wanting to see if the un-dated articles are current or dated. I wanted to determine when the posts were written because I wish to read only the current ideas related to the issues I am after, not the ones written years ago.
For some reasons, bloggers have intentionally removed the dates* when the post was written on their blogs, some of which are:
- The post’s date distracts the readers because, whether the post is a news item (e.g. the latest tidbits on the Kardashians) or a timeless idea (e.g. ‘appreciating sunsets’), psychologically the reader wants the newest write-up about it.
- They think Google will relegate old posts away from the top serps.
- They intentionally want the readers to not think a post is old or dated. In other words, they want to fool the readers into thinking that their article is current.
There are probably a lot more reasons for omitting the dates on blog posts/articles. In fact, this blog also omits the dates in some way.
I hacked the codes under this blog’s hood so that:
- any specific post doesn’t have a date reflected on its usual place – the line right after the title. However, to not run the risk of fooling the reader into thinking it’s the latest (if it’s not), the date is still there – at the bottom part of the article.
- the home page has the current date on the upper right area, and the list of posts with excerpts have the dates displayed the right way.
So, if you find that an article or blog post has no date anywhere on the page, are there some ways to somehow get an idea as to when it was posted/written?
How to Find the Post Date
I have found a few tricks to guess the post date. I said ‘guess’ because the date I find may not really be the exact date when the post was written but may at least be within its immediate time frame.
In the Post Content
The content or body of the article sometimes gives a hint about the date of writing. An event which happened at a particular date might be implied there and if the author says “a few days before” or “last week” or “last year” in relation to that event, it should give you an idea about the post’s date of writing.
If the article is about good SEO methods and it mentions the name of the latest Google Algorithm change, then it’s an indication that the methods the author writes about may presently apply.
View Page Source
This is usually effective if the article page has a picture or image embedded within the article body.
When viewing the page source, the image html usually is structured like so:
“img src = ‘http://domainname.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/imagex1.jpg'”
Thus, the image, according to the above url, was uploaded on June 2012. More often than not, an author would upload an image he uses in his article the same day he publishes the article online.
Sometimes though, the format may not be like this, especially with non-wordpress sites. Wikipedia’s images, for example, do not show this format in its html source. But then wikipedia tells you when their posts were last modified anyway at the bottom left area of their pages.
The above url shows that the post was written back in 2010. This particular post happens to elaborate on how to rank on page 1 in Google. But considering the hundreds of algorithm changes since then, you might think it is dated and thus won’t necessarily apply today. But check again, that page is actually in the top 5 on the first page in google for the term “how to rank in google” just this week. Makes you reconsider about the theory of older posts being relegated to history in the serps. Or, also makes you think that Google’s latest algorithm might just have a lot more room for improvement in returning more accurate returns.
While the bloggers may have removed the dates on their posts, more often than not, they forgot to remove the codes that automatically put dates on the comments made by readers.
So, especially in sites with a large readership, you’ll often find the latest comments made yesterday, but when you (depending on the format) go down or up the other comments, you may find that the first comments were written several years ago.
As usual, I would say that there might be some other more clever methods to determine the dates when online posts or articles were written, but the above tricks worked so far for most of my needs. If you have some tricks related to this issue, post it in the comment section.