Someone asked a great question in a recent Google SEO office-hours about preventing Google from showing published dates in the search result. Mueller recommended what to do in that situation where a date published should be prevented from showing in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Static Pages and Publication Dates
Normally Google doesn’t show the date a page like contact or about us doesn’t need to show the publication date.
So if a publisher sees a publication date in the search results it may be evidence of something unexpected in the code that should be removed.
John Mueller provides suggestions on what to do to solve the problem.
Question About Removing Date Snippets
The person asking the question wanted to know how to remove the dates.
This is the question:
“How would you remove date snippets appearing in the search results for static pages like home, services, contact, etc.?”
There is No Date Snippet Meta Tag
Google’s Mueller answered that there is no HTML method to communicate the preference for the date snippet feature.
For example, Google obeys a meta tag called, noarchive. The noarchive meta tag tells Google to not link to a cache of the web page.
There is also a nosnippet meta tag that tells Google not to show a text snippet or video review in Google’s search engine results pages.
But there is no meta tag for telling Google to not show a date snippet from the page.
Google’s John Mueller paused a moment, looking up as he searched for answer.
Then he turned to the camera and said:
“So… we don’t have a meta tag to remove dates in particular from pages that we show in the search results.
Usually we try to understand when it makes sense to show a date on a page.
And we’ll try to show that in the snippet of the search results itself.”
How to Show Specific Dates in Search Snippets
Mueller next said how to specify the right date in Google’s date snippets in the search results.
“If there’s a specific data that you want to have shown, then you can use… I think… the date structured data in the article structured data type, I think… where you can tell use which date we should use there.
So if you do have a date, you can tell us there.
If you don’t tell use there then we’ll look at the content itself to try to find a date within that.”
How to Not Show a Date in the SERPs?
Mueller next suggests ideas of how to diagnose why Google might be showing a date snippet for static pages like the About Us page in the search results.
“If you don’t want a date to be shown, then it’s not possible to suppress that date snippet from being shown.
But what you could do is, of course, make sure that there is no date shown on your page.
So if you don’t have any dates in the HTML page, then we don’t really have much to pick up on to show there.
So especially when you’re talking about things like a home page or a contact page, for the most part you probably don’t have dates on there anyway.
So that should be something where you shouldn’t see that too frequently.
If you do see this on pages where you’d say well… it’s a normal Contact Us page, why is Google ever showing any dates there, then I would love to have examples of that.
So in particular a query where you’re seeing that happen and the URLs from your site where that’s happening from.
So that’s something that we can take up with the team here that works on showing dates and recognizing dates on a page.
Where we can say, well maybe we’re recognizing a phone as a date accidentally and we need to be able to fix that.”
Make Sure No Published Date in HTML
What may be useful, according to John Mueller is to check out your published HTML page and in your browser select to “view code” in order to see if there’s something there that is sending date information to Google.
And if you find some published date information in the HTML code that you don’t want published in Google’s SERPs then the next step would be to find out what’s part of your code is generating that date and remove it.
Watch Google’s John Mueller Answer Date Snippets Question
Roger Montti is a search marketer with 20 years experience.
I offer site audits and link building strategies.