Multiple Webpage Date Signals Recommended By Google

Gary Green
Gary Green
June 5, 2023

Google has stressed the importance of multiple date indicators for webpages to ensure the correct date appears within search outcomes. Outdated or inaccurate dates may cause confusion and prevent customers from clicking on a web page. While Google should be able to avoid errors regarding date indicators, this cannot be guaranteed. 

Therefore, web page creators should take steps themselves to avoid such an issue arising by using multiple date signals so that Google can have the best chance of using the right alerts. As Google cannot make any assurance that any given byline date may be displayed within search outcomes, it’s important to follow the tips outlined here to help Google’s algorithms find the most appropriate data and use it to your advantage. 

Google’s Factors For Estimating The Publishing Dates Of Pages

It was after Google News showed a mistake in dates that Twitter saw Glenn Gabe pointing out the problems of inaccuracies in this regard. Danny Sullivan, the Search Liaison for Google responded, pointed out to the community in general that it is recommended by Google to include several data signals on web pages in order to guard against similar errors in the future. 

Since wrong dates could stop users from coming to any given website, Google faces a certain amount of responsibility for getting things right. But publishers, too, must play their own part in giving Google the right signals if they want to ensure that the chances of a significant error are reduced as much as possible. 

Google states that it doesn’t rely on any single factor when it comes to dates, since every factor can suffer from issues. Therefore, Google’s systems pay attention to a number of different factors when determining the most appropriate estimate of the date on which a web page was either published or updated significantly. While Google cannot make any guarantees that any given byline date, whether it is contained within structured data or clearly visible, will be clearly displayed within the search results, if you take care to follow the guidelines set out by Google itself, you can stand the best chance of Google’s algorithms being able to locate the relevant information on your site and process it correctly so that the most accurate date will appear on your site. 

It is important to note, however, that Google will only show a page’s date if its automatic systems determine that displaying such information would be relevant, for example, in the cases of time-sensitive pages like news content. When it comes to new content, both the time and date of the content being published and updated must be clearly shown. 

Using structured data by itself will not be sufficient in such circumstances, although it should be used alongside a visible time and date. When an article is changed substantially, giving it an entirely new time and date makes sense in many cases. However, artificially freshening a story with no significant information being added is a bad idea. Publishers should also avoid creating stories that are only slightly updated from the previously published while deleting the older story and redirecting to the latest one since this is against the Google guidelines for article URLs. 

Best Practice For Dates In The Google Search Results 

To ensure the correct date is being displayed in your Google search outcomes, you can try several options. 

The first is to utilise the <time> aspect. This is a key HTML tag that is used for showing occasions and dates. If a date has been positioned inside the aspect, with an included datetime attribute, the precise time and date is laid out in such a format that can be learned simply by machines. As a result, the SERPs can more accurately perceive the correct date and, therefore, display it accurately in its search results. 

Another option is to use the lastmod tag. This is included in the <sitemap> aspect, and can be used for pointing out the last time the page has been modified. Google and other search engines utilise this data in order to gauge the freshness and relevance of the page, and to incorporate it within the search outcomes.

You can also consider using the pubdate tag. In the case of information or weblog sites, this tag can be used for specifying the exact date on which the article was first revealed. The tag needs to be position the <article> aspect. It can help the SERPs to work out the article’s publication date. 

Using the article:published_time tag is another option;. Similar to the pubdate tag, this tag is useful for pointing out an article’s publication date. It must be located within the <head> webpage aspect.

Not only should you correctly use HTML tags for specifying dates, you should also make sure that your content is kept up to date too. This will also make it more likely that Google will display the correct date.

Finally, you should also take the time to ensure that you have minimised any signals which could cause confusion for Google’s algorithms. For example, if you display several dates on a single page, this could clearly be a source of significant confusion and could easily lead to inaccuracies regarding dates in the search engine results. 

In order to ensure that the most accurate dates are appearing in Search and News, Google has given clear guidance that articles must include a single, clearly visible, time and date which is located ideally between the main article text and its headline. 

Although Google is currently working hard on improvements in its abilities to detect article dates and display them with minimal signals required, it has not quite yet achieved this goal. Therefore, it makes sense for publishers to ensure that they are taking every step to follow the best practices laid out in Google’s guidelines for dates on articles in order to minimise such confusion and maximise the chances of the correct date being displayed in the search engine results. 

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