Should You Remove Post Dates from Your WordPress Blog?

You may be wondering why anyone would want to do this. Think about it, you probably have hundreds of articles that you wrote years ago and when those same articles appear on Google search engine results, the dates appear next to the description.  You might think that this is great, users searching the web should be able to see when an article originally published, but research shows that users discriminate against older content just because it is old. An article that may be valuable despite its age would be subject to a user completely ignoring it and would click on the newer article, just because it was newer. As you can see in the image above, the search results page lists the post date for the article followed by the description. Do not confuse the intent here, if you are running a news site or writing about topics whose value […]


You may be wondering why anyone would want to do this. Think about it, you probably have hundreds of articles that you wrote years ago and when those same articles appear on Google search engine results, the dates appear next to the description.  You might think that this is great, users searching the web should be able to see when an article originally published, but research shows that users discriminate against older content just because it is old. An article that may be valuable despite its age would be subject to a user completely ignoring it and would click on the newer article, just because it was newer.

As you can see in the image above, the search results page lists the post date for the article followed by the description.

Do not confuse the intent here, if you are running a news site or writing about topics whose value is short lived then the adequate thing to do is to continue using dates. However if your traffic from search engines is suffering from users who refuse to visit an old article (and your topics are timeless) then you might want to consider removing the post date from your articles.

So how would you go about removing dates in WordPress?

Google is smart about locating dates on posts so you have to be aware of all the dates present on your WordPress site. Based on discussions on the web it appears that Google uses the post date when listed on a page and when the post date is missing, Google uses dates in comments and even within the post itself. So removing dates will take some cunning.

In order to remove the post date from the posts on your WordPress site you will have to remove the post date from your theme’s template file. In terms of indexing the post date, it appears that Google uses the post date from the single post and not the archive, so for the sake of users and simplicity we are only going to remove the post date from the “single.php” template file.

WARNING! Before proceeding with the modification of any template files, please make sure that you back up your files.

Remove date from single posts

1. Open the single.php file located in the theme directory in WordPress (usually server//wordpress/wp-content/themes/your theme name).

2. Locate the following line of code and remove it (or comment it out) from the template;

<?php the_time(); ?>

Note: The code used by the theme developer may vary from theme to theme and location so make sure you look for the <?php the_time within the single.php template to be sure.

3. Save the changes and refresh your website to see the modification. If the changes don’t appear right away make sure to clear the cache if you are using a plugin like WP-Supercache.

Remove date from comments

In order to make sure that Google cannot find a date on your blog post we will also need to remove the dates associated with comments. This can be a bit frustrating for users who want to follow a comment thread so it is entirely up to you.

1. Open the comments.php file located in the theme directory in WordPress (usually server//wordpress/wp-content/themes/your theme name).

2. Locate the following line of code and remove it (or comment it out) from the template;

<?php comment_date() ?>

Note: The code used by the theme developer may vary from theme to theme and location so make sure you look for the <?php the_time within the comments.php template to be sure.

3. Save the changes and refresh your website to see the modification. If the changes don’t appear right away make sure to clear the cache if you are using a plugin like WP-Supercache.

When removing these PHP functions make sure that you take into account the formatting of your posts and comments to ensure that the removal of this element doesn’t interfere with your theme’s design or break the code.

After these changes are made you will need to wait a couple of hours or days in order for Google’s index to reflect those changes. The variance in time is due to your site’s crawl rate so if your site is very popular and is crawled frequently you may see the update in hours. If your site still appears in the search results with the date, make sure you visit the page and search for the date, remember even dates within the content (originally published on [date]) will be used by Google to stamp a date on the site.

Other solutions for the removal of comments and post dates

If you use a commenting system like Disqus or IntenseDebate that is based on JavaScript then there is no concern for the removal of the date from the comments template. If you are using an older version of WordPress or you feel a bit adventurous you could download the Date Exclusion SEO Plugin from the WordPress plugin directory, just keep in mind that the plugin hasn’t been updated in over 500 days and it’s officially compatible up to 2.71.

Will You Remove Dates from Your Posts?

I’ve mentioned some of the Pro’s related to removal of post and comment dates on your blog:

  • Users searching for content on search engines are more likely to click on your link compared to others with older dates.
  • Visitors arriving from search engines will not discriminate the age of the content and will instead focus on the content itself, which should increase readership, time on site, etc.

Of course, as with anything as radical as this there can be some repercussions:

  • If you employ this “hack” and you run a news site, visitors will arrive, but will quickly realize that the content is dated and leave the site.
  • Some users like to know when an article was published and may get frustrated if there is no publish date.
  • If you decide to stay away from Disqus or IntenseDebate to manange your comments and remove the dates from the comments, users may be confused and frustrated because they can’t follow a comment thread or identify when it a particular comment was posted. In which case they respond by leaving the site or by leaving a nice comment.

If the content on your blog is timeless and you could increase the amount of traffic coming to your blog from search engines, would you remove the post and comment dates?


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