When I google for something and land on a blog, I usually start looking for clues about a post’s age. I’ll look at the address bar hoping to see a date in the permalink. I’ll look around the title and at the end of the post, searching for a “Posted on” label. Finally, I’ll take a look at the timestamps present on comments that the post has received, if there are any.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter. For example, if I’m searching for the answer to the question of how much hydrogen peroxide should you give a dog to induce vomit if they accidentally eat some dark chocolate, then an answer from 5 or 10 years ago is still very likely to be perfectly fine. The same is true of most history related question.
For better or worse though, I’m most apt to google for something about programming and/or technology (including electronics), so fresh information is normally the most relevant kind to me. I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who goes hunting for dates in posts as a sign of their relevancy.
A lot of popular bloggers have began to intentionally hide dates from permalinks and their pages to breath new life in their historical archive of posts. When you spent a long time writing a quality post, you really hope that it will be read and appreciated for a long time as well, and not quickly dismissed simply because it was published four years ago.
So should you date your posts or intentionally opt not to leave any clues behind?
Hide the date, and your visitors will stay on your site longer at the cost of frustrating some of them. Show the date, and others will leave right away. On the plus side though, they won’t be frustrated by not knowing whether the content is new or not.
It’s entirely up to you of course, but I have personally chosen to take a hybrid approach on this blog. I hid the date from the permalink as I think it makes the URL structure much neater. However, I have left the post template alone, and as such it includes a small date underneath the title.
This compromise allows me to address the user who wants to be informed about a post’s age, while at the same time not throwing it in everyone’s face right in the URL. Striving for honesty and usability is generally a good strategy that pays off in the long run.
If you choose to pursue the same approach, all you really have to do is change the permalink structure. In WordPress, this can be accomplished by going to Settings -> Permalinks and selecting Post name before saving changes.
Alternatively you can choose Custom Structure and input
/%postname%/ for the permalink.
What’s your approach? Do you disclose the dates of your old posts?