Do you include the date in your blog post URL? When I started blogging, I was told I shouldn’t include the date, and that seems to be the prevailing school of thought. The theory behind that line of thinking is that when someone is searching specific content, and your post shows up, it will look fresh or “evergreen.” However, the reality is, as soon as you write something, it becomes old. And there are some really good reasons why you might not want to “trick” someone into thinking an older post is newer than it is! So I’m going to buck the tide here, and give you a couple good reasons why you should include the date in your URL.
You can tell what is old and possibly outdated.
When I am searching for something, I use the date as a guideline to decide whether or not to click on a post in many cases (although not all). For example, if I was looking for something specific on how to market through Facebook, I’d rather be looking at recent posts than something from 2011. On the flip side of things, if I’m looking for a recipe, or a post about parenting, or something else that isn’t so time sensitive, I don’t care when the post was written…and it won’t affect my decision to click on it. Looking at it from the perspective of my own posts, if something is outdated and I want to put a fresh spin on it, I’ll re-write it. If not, then at least I can save someone the trouble of clicking on a post that isn’t going to be helpful to them by having that date on there….which brings me to my next point.
Content that is no longer relevant can distort your Analytics.
When people visit your site, you want them to stay there as long as possible. You want them to actually read the post that they were there to visit, maybe interact with it a little by commenting or sharing, and visit some of your other posts. When people click on an outdated post, they usually realize it right away and click off. Those 2 or 3 seconds they just spent on your site are going to be averaged into your Average Visit Duration. When that happens now and then, it’s no big deal, but if it happens all the time, it can affect your average time on site adversely.* This also affects your bounce rate. If you aren’t sure what a bounce rate is, it’s the percentage of single page visits where the visitor left without visiting any other pages on your site. You don’t really want a high bounce rate; you want people to stick around and check out more pages on your site. My goal is engaged visitors so I am striving for a higher average visit duration and a lower bounce rate. Click throughs to outdated posts won’t affect either of those numbers positively.
*Although I’ve never seen anything definitively stating Google looks at time on site when ranking, I have seen speculation that this is the case, and it makes sense to me that Google would pay attention to this.
Do you include the date in your URL’s? Why or why not?
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