There’s a school of thought that removing dates from blog posts may help increase your page views.
I recently did something I’ve been meaning to do for quite a while here at Patrick’s Place: I adjusted the format of my post URLs, also known as permalinks, so that the dates aren’t part of the actual web address for individual posts.
I’m told this simplifies things. In my case, I specifically wanted to work the category into my permalinks, because I see more value in that than the date the post was written.
Every so often, certain pieces of blogging “wisdom” resurface and spread like they’re new ideas. The notion of removing every conceivable mention of dates from posts is an example. The conventional wisdom seems to be that putting a date on a post guarantees that most people won’t read the post. Unless the post was written in the past few weeks, it’ll appear old and dated and no one will even click the link from the search results.
But my stats reveal something very interesting that completely disputes that so-called wisdom.
My top-five highest-read posts, at the moment, are all from 2013.
I will resist the temptation to worry that I haven’t written anything “useful” in a year-and-a-half because the posts in question are mostly popular grammar posts for commonly-confused words and phrases. I happened to pick a few well-searched topics and search engines keep hitting them.
The content answers a specific question. One of them, for example, answers the question of whether someone whose reputation is being dragged through the mud is receiving a “bad rap” or a “bad rep.” Apparently, there’s a lot of confusion and a reasonable number of people who are interested in knowing which one is actually correct.
I removed the date from the permalink, so when you click the actual link to the story, you won’t see the actual date, April 23, 2013, but you’ll see it when you read the actual article.
Why don’t I remove it from the article itself? Well, it’s a question of ease, for one. I’d have to go into this theme’s files and manually remove the date from the HTML code, then I’d have to remember to return to the same files and remove it again every time the theme had an update.
The bigger reason, though, is the obvious one: if my most-read posts don’t appear to have any correlation whatsoever to how recently they were published, then I see no reason to remove the date.
And then there’s the one final reason, one that I try to always consider if I contemplate a change on this blog: How does the reader feel? As a blog reader, I hate not being able to find a date when a post was written. When I have no idea how recently the post was written, I’m less likely to read it, not more. I’m less likely to trust it, assuming that it must be out of date or else the date would be more prominent.
I’d rather answer that simple question and let you decide what you read than try to create a pointless mystery that might leave what I had to say suspect.