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. thanks for the information, good post!
    i will try your second method!
    Regards,
    Sandra

  2. Great article, but what do you think about USING this feature instead of removing it: display the CURRENT date by using a PHP command on pages/posts where you normally don’t use a date (eventually using colors/text-indent trick to grab less attention)…

    I’m sure your click-through will move up as you always have the current post date :)

  3. had this problem recently with a few sites due to the HTML5 web semantics we were using. Removing the dates may make your description look good but will it change your rankings?

  4. NJB :

    Hi, after searching aimlessly all over for a solution I came across your blog.

    I use thesis theme for my site. When I navigate to the index.php file as stated in your post, this is all I have there;

    /**
    * Cue the star of the show…
    *
    * @package Thesis
    */
    thesis_html_framework()

    At this point I am lost and dont know absolutely what to click on. Can you please shed more light on my situation here.

    Thanks

    • Sorry for the delayed reply. I am not familiar with the thesis framework but there must be some file where those functions must be residing in and you have to edit. Please take help from any thesis forum.

    • Mark :

      Hey, did you eventually figure out how to remove the date stamp from the Google SERP?

      If so, please let us know how to do it using thesis. Thanks.

  5. Hi,

    I was looking for this exact issue on WordPress.org forum.

    So, do we replace only this code:

    the_time(‘F jS, Y’)

    or this code:

    I didn’t want to try it before I make sure by asking you.

  6. Mistry :

    Ajith – thanks for a useful post… did not know enough about js to be able to do it myself…

  7. marina :

    sorry for being ignorant but to make this clear , where do we place the code?

  8. Great post. Thanks from Spain

  9. Ava :

    I’ve read all the posts and answers — great insights!

    I recently rewrote my site’s Descriptive Meta Tag and it was indexed by Google, but htere is still a date stamp. I’ve scoured the website for this date, thinking that I could just remove it from the text, but can’t find it anywhere. I looked at the Page Source code and didn’t see it there, but I don’t know HTML, anyway, so I probably couldn’t have fixed it in the code. Any ideas for me?

  10. It is like “The Big Brother” of George Orwell.
    Unless your website is too old, I think there is no problem showing the date stamp.

    I had no realise about this label, but from now, I will do.

    I hope to be able of configure all the settings with the new Google display of search results.

    Regards!!

  11. thanks for the tips and tricks. in my case i delete all the wp date function .

  12. Currently Google is pulling the snippet from any one or combination of the following areas:

    1. META description tag (although Google doesn’t use contents to determine relevancy).
    2. First ALT text found on the page.
    3. First text found on the page (which may be a heading tag, body text, etc.).
    4. Additional heading tags on the page.
    5. Additional body text found on the page.
    6. Additional ALT text on the page.
    7. Navigation bar on the left-hand side of the page (which is rarely a relevant description of a site!).
    8. Copyright information at the bottom of the page.
    9. Wherever the keyword phrase is found.

  13. Rahul :

    I am using Arras theme and I dont find anything named time or date in my index.php or home.php file
    Can you figure out what needs to be done to change the Date from appearing in Search Results while Searching for the root keyword for my home page

  14. Ajith,

    My site shows the stamp of Dec. 22, 2008 and I have no clue where this is coming from…. and while the site is HistoricOccoquan.com, 2008 isn’t all that historic and I feel it makes my site look like it hasn’t been updated in a while… when it actually gets updated frequently..
    Any clues as to how to remove this date is extremely appreciated…
    Bry

    • Bryan,
      This particular date is not there anywhere on your source code. You need to check the relevance of that date in your sitemap (which I couldn’t access). I am tempted to believe that that’s the date when you changed your meta tags (keywords, description,…) last. Can you try changing your meta description a little bit and ping google once? In a few days time, I believe this should at the least change it to a 2011 date. Please let me know if it works. You can change only the meta description words for the time being.

  15. Rajesh :

    I am seeing the date for this post of yours, though you had used the combination. The only difference is the SERPS are showing the date as 3 May 2010. I am not sure from where google is picking 3 from.Was that the date when this page got indexed?

    please delete the earlier comment and this note as there were a few typos in it.

    • Rajesh, This post never had a date stamp in Google serps for the first few weeks. But as I mentioned in this post, everytime I put a fix, after a few weeks Google seem to pick the pattern. This time, I am tempted to believe that it picked the date from the first comment date stamp. Perhaps, the same javascript should be put in comment date fields as well.

      • Nice trick. I already imlemented in my wordpress based website. And works for most of posts published. If you serch something in google (for instance, parkour), my web page (vidaoutdoor.com) appears without time stamp. But when the post has just one comment or trackback, the time stamps is there (for instance, running).

        The time is takken, as you noticed, from comments. And I couldn’t find the time command in my template. It probably appears in core files, which is other issue…

        Did anybody find a solution for time stamp from commentaries?

  16. Edsel :

    Hi Ajith,
    Can you help me where to put the code. Below is my index.php. Im afraid I will get mistake.

    Original Code:

    div class=”postmetaleft”>
    | Filed Under

    Thank You
    edsel

  17. Hi Ajith

    my listing shows a date of 6 Dec 2010. this date is nowhere on my site in the sorce, cau u help me to remove it?

    tnx

    • That’s a tough one :) The only number I can think of as source for date is the Reg number in your footer i.e. J40/12625/2001. Looks like Google has dug out the 126 out of that somehow. Could you try removing it for the time being (or put an image for that number instead) and check again in 5-6 days?

  18. Thanks Ajith, will check this. One question: The date has no relevance to SEO?

  19. Hello everyone,

    I must say I really like this by Google. I always click on the results which have the date is it gives a clear indication of how recent and, maybe, relevant the page is to your query.

    On my page the date is not from a php code and actually not from any of the things Bombas de Agua listed. My guess it is simply pickup up the word date and post the latest.

    In any case, I LIKE IT.

    Ciao,
    Karl Manuel

  20. David :

    Why not just remove the date code altogether? I removed my “” code and poof, date is gone. Any thoughts?

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