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Google’s John Mueller: Changing Dates on Pages Won’t Improve Rankings

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Google’s John Mueller advises that changing publishing dates on web pages will not improve search rankings if no significant changes were made to the content.

Mueller offers this advice during the Google Search Central SEO hangout recorded on April 1.

A site owner submits a question to Mueller regarding updating the dates on their website’s photo galleries every time they make minor changes.

They ask Mueller if updating publishing dates will have any ranking benefit in Google search results.

While the question relates to photo galleries, Mueller’s advice applies to changing publishing dates on any type of web page.

Site owners commonly ask some variation of this question, thinking Google may reward a page for looking like it has freshly published content. But Google’s algorithm doesn’t work that way.

Read Mueller’s answer to the question below.

No Ranking Benefit For Updating Publishing Dates

Mueller first speaks to the user experience considerations of updating the publishing date on a page when making minor changes.

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Site owners can update the date and time on web pages any time they want, but Mueller suggests it might be misleading in some cases.

“You can definitely update the date and time on a page whenever you make changes on a web page. If you’re just shuffling pictures around in a gallery that feels kind of misleading, with regards to updating the date just because you’re shuffling pictures around. So from a user point of view I would find that a little bit awkward.”

Mueller goes on to say, while he doesn’t recommend updating the date and time on web pages too frequently, it won’t have any impact on search results.

“I don’t think it would change anything with regards to search, and we definitely wouldn’t rank those pages differently in search just because you’re changing the date and time on a page.”

Again, Mueller advises against updating dates on a page after making small changes. He recommends updating dates only when making significant changes to the content.

However, if you’re stuck with a CMS that updates dates automatically, then that’s fine. It won’t hurt your site.

“So my recommendation there would be, if your CMS does this by default, and you can’t control it, then like fine. If you’re doing this manually, kind of like tweaking the date every time you make a small change like shuffling images, then I would recommend just skipping that and only update the date when you actually make significant changes on a page.”

Hear his full response in the video below:

Mueller’s recent advice matches a blog post he wrote in 2019 where he tells site owners not to “artificially” freshen articles with a new date.

“If an article has been substantially changed, it can make sense to give it a fresh date and time. However, don’t artificially freshen a story without adding significant information or some other compelling reason for the freshening.”

In that blog post Mueller says Google doesn’t always show dates in search results even when the page contains a date. Google will opt to not show a date when it has no relevance to the content.

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“Google shows the date of a page when its automated systems determine that it would be relevant to do so, such as for pages that can be time-sensitive, including news content.”

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Google Workspace vs. Microsoft 365: What’s the best office suite for business?

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Google G Suite vs. Microsoft Office

Once upon a time, Microsoft Office ruled the business world. By the late ‘90s and early 2000s, Microsoft’s office suite had brushed aside rivals such as WordPerfect Office and Lotus SmartSuite, and there was no competition on the horizon.

Then in 2006 Google came along with Google Docs & Spreadsheets, a collaborative online word processing and spreadsheet duo that was combined with other business services to form the Google Apps suite, later rebranded as G Suite, and now as Google Workspace. Although Google’s productivity suite didn’t immediately take the business world by storm, over time it has gained both in features and in popularity, boasting 6 million paying customers, according to Google’s most recent public stats in March 2020.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has shifted its emphasis away from its traditional licensed Office software to Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365), a subscription-based version that’s treated more like a service, with frequent updates and new features. Microsoft 365 is what we’ve focused on in this story.

Nowadays, choosing an office suite isn’t as simple as it once was. We’re here to help.

Google Workspace vs. Microsoft 365

Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 have much in common. Both are subscription-based, charging businesses per-person fees every month, in varying tiers, depending on the capabilities their customers are looking for. Although Google Workspace is web-based, it has the capability to work offline as well. And while Microsoft 365 is based on installed desktop software, it also provides (less powerful) web-based versions of its applications.

Both suites work well with a range of devices. Because it’s web-based, Google Workspace works in most browsers on any operating system, and Google also offers mobile apps for Android and iOS. Microsoft provides Office client apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, and its web-based apps work across browsers.

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