Date appears in search results

In some cases, search engines may display a date in their search results, as part of your snippet. This might influence whether users click to visit your site.

Search engines usually does a good job of determining when it’s appropriate and helpful to include a date, but sometimes gets it wrong. They may occasionally include dates on pages where it isn’t helpful (e.g., a homepage), or may even show an incorrect/irrelevant date.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to directly control whether they show a date or not (or which date they show), but, you can try to ‘manage’ the dates they see and use.

Dates in Yoast SEO’s Google Preview

To reflect the fact that Google may include a date on any listing, we always include a date in our snippet preview tool. That allows you to better tailor your meta descriptions and results, and to avoid getting ‘cut off’ when a date is present.

Google preview always shows the date

Where did my ‘Date in Google Preview‘ setting go?

In older versions of Yoast SEO, we included a “Date in Google Preview” setting. This controlled whether the date was shown in the snippet preview. Since Yoast SEO 14.7, this setting was removed, and we now always show the date in the snippet preview.

We’ve removed this setting because it was leading to confusion. Many of our customers reasonably assumed that the setting would influence whether or not the date would be shown in the (Google) search results. In reality, it only influenced the snippet preview in Yoast SEO.

Because the date now appears in the snippet preview, it “takes away” a few characters from the max length of your meta description if you had previously disabled this feature.

Why can I not delete the date and dash variables when adding my meta description?

As search engines may display the date in the results, we always display the date in the search appearance preview to make this clearer for our customers. We now also show the date and dash within the input box to help clarify that the date is counted towards the meta description word count.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to directly control whether search engines show a date or not. This is why you won’t be able to delete the date and dash variable. By displaying the variables, our customers know how many characters are used up.

Managing dates

How can I discourage search engines from showing a date in the search results?

Whilst none of these suggestions guarantee that search engines won’t show a date, they reduce the chance that they’ll find a date to use. Working through your content, plugins, and themes to remove dates may reduce the chance that they’re shown in your results.

Remove dates from structured data

Yoast SEO outputs datePublished and dateModified structured data, which Google may use to show the date in the search results. Read the Schema API – Documentation to learn how to remove schema pieces.

Remove dates from meta tags

Yoast SEO outputs article:published_time and article:modified_time meta tags, which are used by Facebook and other social media platforms. Search engines might also read this information. You can read about our Metadata API to learn how to remove/disable these tags.

Remove dates from your theme(s)

WordPress, along with many themes, may automatically add hatom microformats into your theme code. You can view your page source to see if this is the case, and if you find one, try some of the handful of plugins that offer date removal features. If the plugin directory doesn’t offer what you need, you or your developer can manually remove dates from your theme.

Remove dates from your content

If your content includes or references dates, then you can try removing those references so that your content is evergreen / date-agnostic.

How can I encourage engines to use the correct date?

There are a number of ways that Google determines the date of your post. Most commonly, a plugin or theme adds a date to the page’s code. If this date is incorrect, it may confuse search engines, and they may use it in place of the intended value. You can view the page source of your post to see if you can find the erroneous date in your code.

If the invalid date is within your source code, there is likely something inside your WordPress site (or possibly your server) that has generated or stored an invalid date. If the date is within the Yoast SEO data, please contact our support team.

Alternatively, if the invalid date is not within the source code, it may be that you’re including external content (like a video, or embedded resource) which Google has used to date your post.

How can I encourage search engines to update my listing?

Even if you’ve made changes to your website to try and remove or correct dates, it may take search engines some time to update your results in their listings.

Thankfully, there are some ways that you can try to speed up this process:

  • If you only have a handle of pages on your website, you can use the Inspect any URL tool in Google Search Console to manually re-submit them.
  • If you have many pages and posts, you can resubmit your sitemap to Google to encourage them to re-crawl the site.

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