There’s a fierce debate — and a ton of misinformation — about whether or not you should date new content on your website. We will clear up the rumors and expose the facts. Spoiler alert: you can’t fool search engines with backdating!
The inspiration for this article came from a recent conversation we had with a prospect about posting regularly on his company’s blog. She explained that her last agency had advised against this plan, preferring instead to publish articles without dates. His last agency said (wrongly) that Google considers blogs to be less valuable.
Why would agencies publish misleading stories like this? Well, dated content tends to highlight the success or poor execution of content marketing, which is often outsourced to the agency. To avoid such scrutiny, a dishonest agency may suggest that you favor purely undated content.
So, does it make sense to update new content added to a law firm’s website? This article explains how dated content affects users and search engine rankingsas well as a quick tip for a balanced approach to content that can help your law firm achieve better results.
Dates can help users better understand content
When we consider user experience, there’s no denying that dates are a valuable tool to help a user evaluate your content. For law in particular, relevance and timeliness are primary concerns for visitors to your website.
Consider a blog post from an estate planning attorney writing about taxes. Inheritance tax is changing and this blog post will become something worse than outdated – it will become inaccurate.
Without a date attached to the blog post, the user may be wary of updating the information. But with a date attached, the user can quickly see that an article was posted a month ago and is probably correct.
Dates provide context and help the user determine if the content is still relevant.
Dates can help search engines rank your site favorably
Search engines appreciate freshness. When you regularly post new content, you keep the search engine well fed. In exchange, the search engine will prioritize this freshly updated website in the search engine results. Win-win!
Google keeps an index of your site’s pages and Google knows when you add new content, whether you decide to date it or not!
You don’t need to create content to take advantage of the algorithmic preference for novelty. If you have an older blog post that is doing well, for example, you can just update it from time to time to keep it fresh.
Conclusion: to date or not to date?
We know there are powerful benefits to dating your content, such as building trust with your user and placating search engine algorithms.
Ultimately, we recommend businesses strive for a mix of ongoing and timely content.
The dates of blog posts and news articles can increase the value of this content. Permanent content, such as tutorials, FAQs, and testimonials, can provide ongoing value without a date, but even permanent content should be updated occasionally. Supermen & Beneski, a Massachusetts-based estate planning firmdoes it well, publishing at least four new blog posts every month and steadily expanding its robust resource center to deliver more value to website visitors.
If you’re interested in a smart way to get the best of both worlds, check out pillar content. While not required or appropriate for all law firm websites, pillar content can be a great strategy for capitalizing on the benefits of content that is both ongoing and timely.
Review and next steps
For content like blogs and news articles, dates can provide useful context for your users.
Search engines don’t need a visible date to properly rate your site, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to post new content regularly! Google loves fresh content and the search engine considers the posting date as the first date the page was indexed by the algorithm. To keep Google happy, you need to regularly post new content or update existing content.
The best long-term content strategy for law firms is a mix of ongoing and timely content. Every business is different, so it’s essential to tailor your content strategy to your audience, business capacity, and business goals.