We all know that focusing on timeless content is a good thing. This will ensure that your posts and articles will be useful tomorrow, next month and maybe even next year. Steve Pavlina’s success is undoubtedly related to his thoughtful, timeless content. In his own words:
In terms of traffic building, timeless content connects with people at a deeper level than time-bound content. The latter is meant to be forgotten, while the former is meant to be remembered. We forget yesterday’s news, but we remember those things that have meaning to us. So I strive to write about meanings instead of happenings.
While thinking about this issue, one question came to my mind: if timeless content is what most of us aim for, would it make sense to remove the timestamp from the posts? Throughout all my blogs I already position the dates below the posts, as opposed to leaving them right after the headline, which might discourage some readers from reading the older posts. But would it make sense to remove the timestamp altogether?
Some popular blogs around the Internet are starting to adopt this model. I talked to some of these bloggers and asked their opinion on the topic, check it out:
(removed dates completely on his Digital Photography School blog)
If the content is timeless and not ‘newsy’ in nature I think that
removing the timestamp from a blog is a very worthwhile thing to do. I’ve been doing it since the start of Digital Photography School (digital-photography-school.com/blog) a year ago and have noticed a few interesting things:
1. I get a lot more links on ‘old’ posts over time. On my blogs with dates on them I find that despite them getting traffic from Google that they are rarely linked to after a week or two. On DPS I’m constantly getting links from sites on posts even after a year.
2. I get more comments on old posts. Even though I leave the dates on comments (so people can really tell how old a post is from that) I find that not promoting the date gives a perception of ‘freshness’ in people’s minds and makes them more willing to interact with the post.
(removed dates on single post pages on DoshDosh)
I don’t really have a concrete reason why I removed the time stamp, except that it doesn’t make the blog posts look dated. However, depending on the overall site and its content structure, dates can be important and useful.
Going without dates also affects your marketing potential. For instance, it might make it easier to promote material on social voting/bookmarking websites. For example, I can send visitors to an article I wrote 2 months ago and it’ll still appear to be fresh and new, particularly so if the content isn’t about current events/news. I also think this affects your ability to receive citation links and comments.
(removed dates completely on FreelanceSwitch)
The reason we chose to not date posts on FreelanceSwitch was to produce content that didn’t feel dated. Because Freelancing is not a technology-oriented field, the advice we dispense on the site should be as good today as it is in three years time. In that sense the site is a growing body of articles rather than posts.
To be honest I’m not 100% certain it is a good idea to not date posts. We’ve had one complaint that I know of, but other than that no-one seems to care much one way or the other. I got the idea to do it after reading that you shouldn’t use dates in your permalinks as old content can look … well old. Taking it one step further and removing dates altogether seemed like a good idea.
In one way perhaps not dating the posts means that the reader has no point of reference as to when the post was written and where it falls into the sequence, but since posts are very much standalone pieces on the site, does that really matter? We do have categorization of content to make some sense in the users head so there’s no great danger of the user feeling lost on the site.
I think removing dates is OK for blogs where the content is ageless and its sequence unimportant. If you were writing a blog of events or technology or just one where it was a good idea to read earlier posts before later ones then I would say its a bad idea to remove them. In our case it doesn’t seem to make much difference.
What do you think?
Obviously there are both advantages and disadvantages involved. Increasing the amount of backlinks, comments and the exposure around social networks for your older posts is very valuable. On the other hand some visitors might want to know when the content was written.
Would you be more likely to link or comment on a post without the time reference? Would you be turned off by it?
Wallet Rehab – Ways to save moneyon says
I think timestamps are unecessary, unless you are doing a very traditional news blog. Otherwise, chances are your content is timeless! Does Lifehacker really need timestamps?
Regardless of the type of content I’ve found myself searching for timestamps on some blogs.
I love WordPress and am now using it pretty much exclusively as a CMS for all of my sites. Some of them are relatively static and the content is not time specific so I’ve removed a number of the built in WP features including timestamp. However I think that in most cases it makes sense to keep it in.
Rohit Malikon says
I have also removed the timestamp but my reason is different …i’m using dates in the title itself as it can be different than the date of actual publishing.
I feel displaying timestamp is a good way. First thing I do when I read a blog is to check when it was posted. I have had experience searching for the date in the post to find out how old is the information.
It’s arguable that time can be an irrelevant factor in some blogs, such as this one. But many have entries that are interdependent. It is often necessary to know which of a series of posts came first, in order to make sense of them.
Chris Baskindon says
Steven Smethurston says
It matters on the content, if your content could possible become invalid with time, it NEEDS a time stamp.
Guilherme Zhlke O’Connoron says
I fully agree with “LearningNerd” above.
Sam Jacksonon says
Dates tend to help orient me, but I can see the merit in it, subconsciously, I suppose.
Mike Panicon says
I’ve removed time from the posts themselves but left it on for the comments, as it shows a nice timeline, and if someone is replying to an older blog post.
Dale, you are right. The discussion, in fact, is not regarding if removing the timestamp would make a blog’s content timeless or not.
Andrea Michelonion says
I prefer to show up every article’s datetime because I do think any reader should know it: the world is growing and changing faster and faster, the IT even more.
hmmmmmm…. might be a good idea if we all look up the word “timeless” in a dictionary and start this discussion over again. “A Tale of Two Cities” is not timeless because it doesn’t have a timestamp!
I prefer to have the date on posts that I am reading. I could care less about the time. It is aggrivating to me to read a post and then try to figure out when it was written. Having the date on a post helps me to understand the content better.
Nothing is truly “timeless”. You can always see what date a book was published, even if the book has been relevant for 200 years. Blog posts should be no different; a reader should always be able to find out when something was written, no matter what it is.
On my blog, I have a mix of timeless posts and those that are time-sensitive. I like seeing a date on a post just to give me a frame of reference. I don’t necessarily think of a post as not “fresh” if it’s older. I think, as readers, we’re used to seeing dates at the top of posts just as we would for a newspaper article.
Dan and Jennferon says
I write both (what I hope to be) ageless material and also this-minute news type posts, so I’ll probably keep the time stamp in. As for when I’m browsing other’s sites, I don’t even notice the time stamp. The only time I do is with the comments. So I don’t think it has much of a problem with me. I would link to something no matter the age if I thought it was relevant.
Andrew, sure if we consider news-related ot tech & gadget blogs the time reference is useful. That is beyond discussion.
Andrew Fluscheon says
I think timestamps are a valuable tool when reading blogs, especially when researching a topic. If your blog deals with technology, most stuff probably isn’t “timeless.” The timestamp helps to identify whether or not the post is current enough to be informative on the topic.
I like the idea of having the date. Most types of print media give some sort of idea of when it was published. For example magazines may have many articles that can last for quite a while, but it is still good to see when they were published because anything has the possibility of going out of date. Maybe it is better to have it small and at the end of the post, but I think there should be some way of finding out.
I agree with you guys that at a “conscious” level a good post is worth to me the same thing, regardless of when it was written.
The age of a well-written post makes no difference to me. If it’s good advice, it’ll stand the test of time.
Dana Markon says
If a post is worth a link, I would link to it whether or not it has a timestamp. Most of the time it seems people will be linking to more current posts anyway.
I will remove timestamp from my blog, maybe author too…
Paolo, I think if we talk about a “fresh” post I would be equally prone to link to it. Regardless of having a timestamp or not.
Paolo Amorosoon says
I am as likely to read and link to posts with and without dates. But I consider time references a valuable navigational tool.
John Wesleyon says
This is something I’ve been thinking about. I aim to write timeless content but currently do show the timestamp. If removing it encourages more links it’s probably worth a try.