Indexing Dates in Google's SERP Display
As Tucson’s Largest Digital Marketing Firm, we get a ton of questions regarding how different facets of a companies online digital presence works. One of those questions lately has been: “How do I get dates to display in Google’s search engine results pages for my keywords.”
To better understand this article, if you’re unfamiliar with what a SERP is, it is the search engine results page or essentially what the results are when a user generates a query on Google. To illustrate what we will be discussing, please see the picture below:
How Google’s SERP Dates are Determined
When it comes to Google there’s a lot that is unknown, fortunately enough how SERP dates are determined is no mystery. Essentially what Google’s algorithm does is aim to detect web pages and articles that may be time sensitive. Some websites or topics that may fall under this category are:
- News Articles
- Product Pages With Time Sensitve Sales
- Articles or Blogs That Discuss Launch Dates
- Articles or Blogs That Have Been Updated Frequently
While Google claims to not use any one method or algorithm signal to pull and display dates, there are a few things that you can do to increase the chances of displaying a date in the SERP.
Signals to Get Dates in Google’s SERP
Now that you know what types of posts, blogs and articles may receive the rich snippet for dates in Google’s SERP, let’s talk about and discuss what factors directly signal to Google that the date should be present in search.
1.) The first thing that should be present when attempting to index a date in SERP results is of course, the date. This should be present in plain text and written to ADA compliance standards. Example: March 21st, 2019. You may also include the day of the week but it is not-necessary.
2.) While many conventional SEO analysts and specialists struggle with SCHEMA, it is an important tool in your tool box. When creating dates in your posts or pages, we always recommend using structured markup. This will look something like: <meta itemprop=“datePublished” content=“2019-03-21”>, and can be inserted into the head of your document. If you are using a templating system and want to apply the property on a per page basis somewhere in the body, it will look like: <span itemprop=”datePublished”> March 21st, 2019</span>.
3.) As search engines like Google move to mobile first indexing to provide a better user experience, it is recommended that your website is built using AMP or “Accelerated Mobile Pages” when attempting to get Dates in Google’s SERP.
Looking For Information Specific to Google News SERP Dates?
While the process for adding dates and times on websites that exist outside of Google’s news is relatively straight forward, Google News websites require a slightly different process. What are those processes?
1.) The Date and The time must be present. It must also be clearly positioned between the headline and the article text, in the body; not in the head through the use of meta data.
2.) If the article has been updated, you must give it a fresh date and time. However, if a Google News partner has been found to change dates artificially in hopes to re-rank, you may lose your Google news partnership.
3.) If you’re updating content, do not create a new article with a new date and the redirect to that new one. You must use the processes outlined above.
Additional Best Practices On Updating SERP Dates
- Always show when a page has been updated.
- Use the right time zones and make sure to account for daylight saving time.
- Be consistent with your date schema and on page copy.
- Don’t use future or past dates. The date should be relative to the publishing of the content.
- Follow Google’s structured data guidelines.
SERP Dates Conclusion
Getting your dates into Google’s SERP’s will always be a wildcard. By using the information above you will have the best chance of doing so, which in turn will make your articles more relevant to your users. After all, who wants to read outdated information about, well…anything?