Towards a trusted web: Timestamp content with WordProof

The worldwide web is one of the greatest achievements of mankind. It has revolutionized communication and allowed for a stunning amount of innovation to happen. As a place without regulation, the web was allowed to grow tremendously. But today, we cope with the side-effects of that unregulated growth: misuse hurts people and even democracies. Now, there is talk of regulating the web — but some are also talking about bringing trust back to the web. One of the tools that can help bring back trust is timestamping content.

WordProof timestamps in Yoast SEO

Here at Yoast we believe a trusted web is a better web, for all of us. To help make that trust a reality, we’ve added a WordProof timestamping integration in Yoast SEO! You can read all about it right here.

But before we get started, take a look at the video below where Sebastiaan van der Lans (the mind behind this awesome technology) explains WordProof in his own words.

The web has a trust issue

Over the years, huge companies were allowed to grow their reach into every nook and cranny of the web. Of course, many of these companies provide us with valuable tools and insights that we can use to improve our knowledge, work, or even happiness. But today, many of us are concerned about our security, privacy, and loss of self. We see fake news thrive on social media, and regular newspapers struggle to keep their heads above water. We see corruption, foreign interference, and massive disinformation campaigns. This all leads to an important question: Who can you trust?

Building a more trustworthy web

The Trusted Web Foundation is an initiative to give consumers, governments, and companies a way to verify that they can trust what they read. It’s an idea to help the web become transparent about where something came from and accountable for who published what. It should no longer be about machines making their choices for you, but you should be in control of what you do, what you read. You should be in control of how you use what you learn.

The talk for regulating the web is picking up and in Europe, we already have something called the GDPR. This gives European citizens ownership over their digital data. This is not a way to censor things, as that would hurt the web, but a way to enable people to decide for themselves what they want to do with their data.

Part of the solution: timestamping content

There are several initiatives that are working on parts of a future trusted web. One of the most interesting solutions is timestamping content in the blockchain. A timestamp lets readers know they can trust this piece of content as it has been verified and added to the blockchain. In the blockchain, the ownership and status of this content lives on in eternity — for all to see. It gives undeniable proof that this content exists, when it first appeared, who wrote it, and when it was last edited, if so.

So, timestamping content provides a sense of trust for your readers. You show that you take your content seriously. Not only that, by adding it to the blockchain, you can prove without a doubt that you are the owner of this content. Timestamping is a relatively easy solution that helps improve trust and paves the way towards a trusted web. 

WordProof: using the blockchain to prove ownership

WordProof is the product of the Trusted Web Foundation, and its goal is to restore trust on the web. They have built a solution that uses the blockchain to place and verify timestamps on content. It uses badges or links to show people that the content has been protected. If you want, you can even check the changes made in previously saved versions of the content. This allows publishers to be as transparent and trustworthy as possible. Moreover, WordProof even lets you view the timestamp transaction on the blockchain.

Here’s how WordProof sees that route toward a trusted web:

A trusted web is more than simply regulating it

And here’s how readers can verify the validity of the content thanks to timestamps. Now, you can simply click on the link and see the WordProof popup appear. Getting your content verified is easy as well, it has a WordPress plugin to get that done for you. Check it out! If you like what you see, try it with a special discount we have for readers of our SEO blog. More on that at the end of this article.

 timestamped article has a link at the end of the page that says: this page is trustworthy. You can click on the link to see the details of the timestamp.
Every timestamped article has a link at the end of the page. Click on it to see the details of the timestamp

WordProof has won several awards, like the Dutch Blockchain Awards 2020, and the EIC Horizon Prize for the best blockchain solution for social good. This last one consisted of a prize of 1,000,000 euros awarded by the European Commission. Yoast’s founder and our head of strategy, Joost de Valk and Marieke van de Rakt, have a private stake in this company.

Content timestamps and SEO

Trust is a big factor for search engines as well. Over the years, we saw search engines put an ever greater emphasis on trustworthy websites and high-quality content. Especially for the so-called Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) sites, trust and expertise are very important. These are the sites that can impact your life depending on what you do, so stuff like medical and financial information. In these industries, you need to know you can trust the content these sites offer. Plus, is that writer really an expert in the business? Of course, the same goes for news publishers. Trust is essential.

Timestamping can help enhance the sense of trust for readers and publishers alike. But it’s not just the timestamp itself that helps build trust for readers. WordProof is also working on a solution to output the blockchain timestamps as structured data. Search engines can read this structured data and verify the validity of your content. In the end, this might lead search engines to trust your content more. This is another way of proving who you say you are, where you are from, and what you have written.

Making the trusted web a reality

The web is such a polarized place — it has so many pros and cons. It can drive revolutionary developments, but it can also drive revolutions. And one of the biggest issues right now is that of trust. In the age of fake news and disinformation, it is getting harder and harder to find sources to trust — and to prove you can be trusted. Luckily, companies like WordProof are working to roll out technologies and policies that will hopefully lead to a trusted web.

Try WordProof timestamps in Yoast SEO

WordProof has a mission that aligns perfectly with the Yoast mission — both companies are striving for a better web. So we’re really happy that we’re now able to offer integrated WordProof timestamps in our Yoast SEO plugin. And what’s great for you is that you can try out this awesome technology for free!

Do you have a privacy policy on WordPress, or a terms and conditions page for your WooCommerce store? With the new Yoast SEO WordProof integration you can timestamp these pages for free!

By adding a timestamp on your privacy policy or terms and conditions page, you can prove exactly when its content was created/edited and guarantee that it has not changed since then. There won’t be any doubt in users’ minds — they’ll have a full, transparent view of exactly what has changed and when. That’s the kind of thing that makes the internet better for all of us!

Your users will see a certificate like this on your privacy policy or terms and conditions page when you enable timestamps

All you need to do is enable the WordProof integration in your Yoast SEO settings, then go to your privacy policy or terms and conditions page and toggle the timestamp option on in the Yoast SEO sidebar. Your page will then be timestamped every time you update it (up to 10 times per month).

You can read more on our help page about setting up your free WordProof timestamps.

Want more timestamps?

In this post, you got a bit of a background on the trusted web, timestamping and WordProof. If you want to use more timestamps, or add timestamps to your other pages, you can opt for a paid WordProof plan from €7.99/month.

Coming up next!

7 Responses to Towards a trusted web: Timestamp content with WordProof

  1. Axel Schröder
    Axel Schröder  • 2 years ago

    is it possible to timestamp WordPress posts / pages ia Yoast Premium and WordProof step by step (e.g. by switching a button in the backend of the post/page) or is it a all or nothing decision? For example to start with the cornerstones?
    Best, Axel

    • Tyler Nguyen
      Tyler Nguyen  • 2 years ago

      Hi Axel,

      You can definitely timestamp your posts and pages via Yoast SEO! But for the moment, you can only use this feature on your privacy page. If you’re running WooCommerce, you can timestamp your terms & conditions page too. We will continue to work on this feature so you can timestamp any posts or pages. Stay tuned for our upcoming releases!

      • Axel Schröder
        Axel Schröder  • 2 years ago

        Thank you for the answer.
        Is the individual timestamping of posts/pages possible with Yoast Premium and a paid plan at Wordproof or is it actual technically not possible to timestamp step by step?

        • Tyler Nguyen
          Tyler Nguyen  • 2 years ago

          Hi Axel,

          Yes, you can use the timestamp feature right within Yoast SEO! You will first need to connect your Wordproof account with Yoast SEO. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you use the WordProof integration!

          I hope this answers your question, and do let me know if you have more questions!

          • Axel Schröder
            Axel Schröder  • 2 years ago

            Sorry, your link is broken…

          • Tyler Nguyen
            Tyler Nguyen  • 2 years ago

            Oh, my apology for the inconvenience Axel! The link’s fixed now!

  2. Jeroen van Rossum
    Jeroen van Rossum  • 2 years ago

    This is exactly what we need on the web where nowadays content writers are being destroyed by content thiefs more and more. We were on our way to a web full of copies of copies of copies instead of new content. People even use AI software that steals and alters content from top search results and think it is normal. Shit like that demotivates anyone who has something new to say to write anything anymore. These timestamps are a very welcome development. Thanks guys! A lot!