How to remove Date stamp from Google SERP description?

Some of you may have noticed that when your blog (or individual post) is listed on Google search results (SERPs), a date stamp gets prepended to the meta description of the indexed page (see the image below). There are are various theories regarding how and from where Google picks this date stamp. Some believe that it is the time stamp of the last post on your blog, where as a few others believe that it’s the date on which your site is last indexed. Regardless of the reason, sometimes this extra date field can be a bit annoying for some of you and in this post let me explain how you can remove the same.

Ways to remove date from search results

First of all, let me tell you that not every blogger or webmaster face this issue. And this doesn’t quite depend on your blog theme as well – i.e. Blogs using the same theme and layout may or may not have this issue. However, for those who have completely disabled post dates, this may not happen at all. And hence the fixing process starts based on that behavior because in most cases, Google seems to pick the date from the content of the page or your blog post.

Date in search result meta description

There are basically two ways of removing this date in the Google search result or meta description.

1. Use image based dates instead of the usual theme (PHP) generated server side time stamp. In this case, you have to convert the date string to images and hence it may not be very easy to create the image styles that exactly match your theme. Also, you may have to change it every time you change your styles.

2. Use client side logic (javascript) to render the dates so that when Google picks the page, it doesn’t quite read whatever (date) is there between the script tags. I prefer this method.

(Third option obviously is to remove the dates totally but you might want your post dates to be present there)

So how do we fix it? Just follow the simple steps as given below for a WordPress blog. For any other blog platform/website, you may similar logic.

– Open your theme’s index.php file.
– Search for the place where you display the time – usually a call to something like the_time(‘F j, Y’) method
– Replace that logic with Javascript. i.e. paste the following code instead of the time (Please type in the code as I have actually pasted an image of the code snippet here)

javascript to remove date from Google indexing

This makes sure that the server side date rendering is avoided and hence Google wouldn’t list it next time it index your blog’s home page.

If you want to do the same for individual posts, repeat the above step for your single.php file. Please note that existing posts may take some time before the date from their description field is removed. To enforce the changes, you may want to republish the post as well.

Update: Aug 15
Sometimes the above script still doesn’t work on single posts. In that case you may use a combination of javascript and PHP to render your date, as mentioned in the example below.

javascript and PHP to remove date from Google indexing
[Click image to enlarge]

Pros and cons of the date stamp on Meta description

If you are a regular blogger who makes one post (or more) a day, you may not really mind having a date prefixed on search results of your homepage. However, if you post once a week or so, like me, you may not want to show that your last update was a week back because it may affect your click-through rate from search. The same logic is applicable for individual posts as well. I mean, nobody will click a SERP link, if the post date/year shows something like 2008.

Also, the date prefix sometimes affects the readability of your page description (usually the marketing punchline) and at times truncates it as well.

Hope this tip was useful for your blog’s SEO!

Happy SEO!

Comments

  1. dg :

    My sites have the time stamp and are not blogs at all. I can’t figure out what causes google to put in the dates on my descriptions. Any ideas? Also my other site design http://www.sensationsskin.com has it!

    • @dg, Google pick it from the content. In your case, your homepage has a date in the string ‘Tina 07/02/2009 on Google’ and that date is picked to display on your Google search meta description.

      Try removing that date, add some new content (or reshuffle the content to effect some change in the eyes of Google). Make sure that the sitemap is updated to reflect the homepage changes.

      Hopefully in the next crawl the date will disappear from search.

  2. dg :

    That may be true and I’ll try to make your adjustment suggestions, but what about http://www.ProCollage.com? I get the date stamp on that one as well! Thanks for the help and info.

  3. Thanks Ajith, will check this.

  4. i think the date stamp has something to do with when google last index the page. nope, i’m probably wrong. Can’t help you here guys.

  5. Thanks for sharing the tricks Ajith! Nevertheless, I don’t find any disadvantage of showing the date stamp if we update our blog at least twice a week or so. But as you said, that might be good for blog which updates only once a week, that might affect the click through rate.

    Thanks for sharing Ajith!

    Regards,
    Lee

  6. That’s seriously important to me..Haven’t implemented your trick right now but I really want to get rid of this thing..Will just try the trick after this comment 😉

  7. ajeet :

    Thanks for the post ajith
    can i remove this for my blogspot blog

    • @ajeet, it’s possible to remove the date for the search description of any website or blog. For blogger platform, you have to find the right place in your theme file to modify the script. Unfortunately, I am not an expert in blogger themes to suggest where exactly you have to modify. I shall try to figure it out.

  8. Naija :

    Thanks for this tips. I’ve observed the date stamp in SERP result and I didn’t like it especially when the post is older than twelve months. It can easily discourage the intending visitor as people tend to prefer fresh information. That means I’ll be denied the opportunity to prove that I have something to offer just because it was written long ago.
    It is nice to learn how to go about avoiding that. Thanks for sharing. Kudos 😉

    • @Naija, you are welcome.. Yes, this would increase the click-through for older post when dates are removed. Unfortunately, nothing much can be done about those very old posts that google is not updating the index for.

  9. Nihar :

    Great post ajith,

    I just now checked my individual post on SERP. It shows date.

    Let me try your 2nd method.

  10. Great post. Thanks from Germany.

  11. NZKiwi :

    Great.
    Will try now and see if it works – thanks

  12. Rob.T :

    Hi Ajith,
    i have the same problem and,
    i want to ask you if this date in description can affect my position in Google.

  13. Rob,
    I would think that, it shouldn’t affect your SERP position unless the date stamp causes any good part of your description getting truncated.

  14. Rita :

    my listing shows a date of 11/19/09. this date is nowhere on my site, and my website has been updated plenty since that date. I do have a blog but this is not the page being references, it’s my main site. Keywords that show this are cat sitting los angeles, as well as many many others…

  15. Are you sure that google doesn’t grab info from RSS and merges it with your post content?

  16. Hi Ajith, thanks for this. So do you mean that if I do the single.php changes it won’t work?

    • @Staggered, for Single.php, I have provided a new script (combo of PHP + javascript) and that’ ones working for me right now. Please read the updated part in the post.

  17. Gerry :

    Ajith,
    I deleted any references to time in the php code for this site, but I’m still getting a date in the description. Also, I’ve changed the blog title in WordPress to be more SEO friendly, from “The Homepage of Emma Graves Fitzsimmons” to just “Emma Graves Fitzsimmons.” This was almost a week ago. I’m still getting “The Homepage of Emma Graves Fitzsimmons” and the date (Aug. 14, 2010) in the site description. How long until the Google bots crawl this site again? Should I resubmit the site to Google?

    • @Gerry, it takes a few days or even weeks at times based on how often Google crawls your site. It crawls faster when sites are frequently updated. Btw, if you have a sitemap.xml (I couldn’t find one) you can submit it once again via Google webmaster tools.

  18. lucas :

    Will try this option.
    I have xml feeds and sitemaps with timestamps, should I remove these dates too?

  19. Thank you! Worked for me within hours.

  20. Damn! I have tried both the scripts but still the date is coming up in my SERP results. :-/

    • Everytime I come up with a new script, it works for two-three posts and then Google will find a workaround to get the date 😆 Sorry for that man. But at least your homepage must be looking good in SERP?

      • Rio :

        I think it’s not working, I tried to search this page of your blog “How to remove Date stamp from Google SERP description” and date metadata still appear on SERP, please check it out 😀

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