Google Explains How Dates within Search Result Snippets Work

Google has published an official article which comments on when and how search result snippets work – and one big takeaway from the discussion is that people should not fake dates in content as it can be faced with horrible repercussions.

Google often decides to display the date that the webpage was either created or updated and it will include the time in the snippet when Google finds the content to be time-sensitive, news-oriented, or something related to content that is fresh and new. Everyone knows that Google is not completely free of errors and that there are times when the information they choose to display is not correct, however, Google does offer this very useful feature which can draw traffic to your webpage – the more up-to-date your information is, the more likely someone is going to want to read it.

Google stated that they use “a variety of factors, including but not limited to: any prominent date listed on the page itself or dates provided by the publisher through structured markup,” because all of these factors are prone to issues which may result in one, on its own, not being a reliable source for the time and date and, “Sometimes, structured data may be lacking or may not be adjusted to the correct time zone.”

SEOs focus on showing Google the relevant date by showing a visible date prominently on the page and/or using the datePublished and dateModified schema with the correct time zone designator for AMP or non-AMP pages. Both of these methods can help Google to display the correct date for your page which, in turn, could result in more traffic to your page. People (and Google) are always looking for relevant information that is as up-to-date as possible.

Google has picked up that certain SEOs were manipulating the dates and that they were trying to make the content appear to be more recent than it actually was, however, this is very often picked up by Google and can have serious repercussions for your webpage.

Google has published its 6 best methods to ensure Google displays the correct time and date:

  • Show when a page has been updated
    (2) Use the right time zone
    (3) Be consistent in usage
    (4) Don’t use future dates or dates related to what a page is about
    (5) Follow Google’s structured data guidelines
    (6) Troubleshoot by minimizing other dates on the page

Follow these practices and ensure that Google has the correct dates for your snippets to ensure that people know the exact dates your article was issued to improve the customer’s search experience.