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May 12, 2014

Why You Should Timestamp Your Blog Posts

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time_stamp_blog_postsFor the most part, blogging isn’t about the short-term successes. Sure, you may be newsjacking to try to get a short influx of traffic (and maybe get something to truly go “viral”), but for the most part, you’re setting yourself up for sustainable long-term growth with evergreen content.

Each blog post you write is like another dollar in a high-interest savings account -- it may not be much now, but it could pay out meaningful dividends later on. With that mindset, you want to make sure every dollar you put into that account will get you the biggest output. You want your evergreen content to actually benefit you in a big way when it's weeks, months, or even years old.

One tactic people often suggest to extend the shelf-life of blog posts is to remove the date and time it was published. Why? Supposedly, people won't know that it was written a while ago. That means they'll stay longer, because they think it's recently published. 

But that's a backwards way to think about it. Timestamping your blog posts could be the best thing that ever happened to your evergreen content. Here's why.

Timestamps Are Like Expiration Dates

When you remove the timestamps on your blog posts, you're setting your company up for failure and assuming your readers aren't discerning members of society. You're "optimizing" for a one-article experience -- not for the typical buyer process. 

Think about the last time you did research -- let's say, to buy a computer. You needed to do research to make lots of different decisions: how big of a screen you'd want, how long the battery would last, how much space you'd need to buy, what size case would fit the computer, etc. You'd probably search online to help you figure out those answers.

Some of those questions -- such as how big of screen you'd need -- could be answered by content from a few years ago. The pros and cons of screen sizes aren't something that'll change all that often. Others -- like which case you should buy -- would need to be a recent post. You only want to look at cases that you could actually buy now, and a case from a few years ago most likely wouldn't be in stock. 

Now, if you stumbled on a post on each of those types of content and they didn't have publish dates, you'd be clueless. On the post about the screen sizes, you'd end up getting the information you needed ... but when you went to research the cases, you'd be out of luck. As soon as you realize that the second blog post was out of date, giving you really unhelpful information, you'd bounce.

Not exactly a recipe for building long-term, sustainable relationships with a company. 

Bonus: the company ends up looking foolish in the process. Without the time stamp, people could think the company is just woefully misinformed and a bad company to do business with ... which is the exact opposite of what the company is hoping will happen when they set out to create blog content. Timestamps, however, show people that the company isn't misinformed. Instead, the reader realizes the post is just old -- it's not a reflection of a company's expertise.

Basically, timestamps are like food expiration dates -- they arm your readers with the information to decide if they want to consume your content, and "absolve" you of any misinformation if the content is old.

(Tip: If portions of your highly popular evergreen posts become out of date, you can always go back and update those sections. And if a highly popular post that's not evergreen is out of date, it's wise to do an overhaul of the post. Even if the timestamp tells readers the post contents were published years ago, if your post is still getting traffic, it's a good business decision to help increase conversions on that post with updated content and a new CTA.)

Do you timestamp your blog posts? Why or why not? I'd love to hear your perspective in the comments.

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Topics: Content Marketing

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