There is a fierce debate—and a ton of misinformation—about whether or not you should date new content on your website. We’re going to clear up the rumors and lay out the facts. Spoiler alert: you can’t fool search engines with backdating!
The inspiration for this article came from a recent conversation we had with a prospect about publishing regularly to her firm’s blog. She explained that her last agency advised against this plan, preferring instead to publish articles without dates. Her last agency stated (erroneously) that Google sees blogs as less valuable.
Why would agencies float out deceptive stories like this? Well, dated content tends to highlight the successful—or poor—execution of content marketing, which is often outsourced to the agency. To avoid such scrutiny, a dishonest agency may suggest that you prioritize purely undated content.
So, is it smart to date new content added to a law firm’s website? This article explains how dated content impacts users and search engine rankings, along with a quick tip for a balanced approach to content that can help your law firm get better results.
Dates can help users better understand the content
When we consider the user experience, it is undeniable that dates are a valuable tool in helping a user assess your content. For law in particular, relevance and timeliness are paramount concerns for your website visitors.
Let’s consider a blog post from an estate planning attorney writing about taxes. The estate tax changes and this blog post will become something worse than obsolete—it will become inaccurate.
Without a date attached to the blog post, the user may distrust whether the information is up to date. But with a date attached, the user can quickly see that a post was published one month prior and is probably correct.
Dates provide context and help the user determine whether the content is still relevant.
Dates can help search engines rank your site favorably
Search engines value freshness. When you regularly publish new content, you keep the search engine well fed. In exchange, the search engine will prioritize that freshly updated website in the search engine results. Win-win!
Google keeps an index of your site pages—and Google knows when you add new content, whether you decide to date it or not!
You don’t have to crank out content to take advantage of the algorithmic preference for newness. If you have an older blog post that performs well, for instance, you can simply update it every so often to maintain that freshness.
Conclusion: To date or not to date?
We know that there are powerful benefits to dating your content, such as building trust with your user and appeasing the search engine algorithms.
Ultimately, we recommend that firms strive for a mix of evergreen and timely content.
Dates for blog posts and news articles can increase the value of that content. Evergreen content, such as tutorials, FAQs, and testimonials, can provide ongoing value without a date attached—but even evergreen content must be updated on occasion. Surprenant & Beneski, a Massachusetts-based estate planning firm, does this well, publishing at least four new blog articles each month and regularly expanding their robust Resource center to deliver more value to website visitors.
If you’re interested in a clever way to get the best of both worlds, ask us about pillar content. While not required or appropriate for all law firm websites, pillar content can be a great strategy for capitalizing on the benefits of both evergreen and timely content.
Review and next steps
For content such as blogs and news articles, dates can provide helpful context to your users.
Search engines don’t need a visible date to correctly assess your site—but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to publish new content regularly! Google likes fresh content, and the search engine considers the publication date to be the first date the page was indexed by the algorithm. To satisfy Google, you need to regularly publish new content or update existing content.
The best long-term content strategy for law firms is a mix of evergreen and timely content.
Every firm is different, so it is critical to tailor your content strategy to your audience, your firm’s capacity, and your business goals. Omnizant can help you create a bespoke website and content marketing strategy to support your unique business.