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Maybe it is just me, but does it annoy you when you can’t find a blog post’s date? Sure, the advice to remove the date from your blog post was given by well-meaning people who wanted to help your content always look fresh, but let’s get real. For some niches, where the information is timeless, that isn’t such a bad thing.

But if your blog covers coding, SEO, social media, technology, health, etc., then there should be a date. Then there’s nothing worse than not being sure when something was published, especially if it is advice that could have stopped working about two application versions ago or doesn’t fit the new search engine algorithms. If you’ve seen a blog post with a screenshot, then went to the site and found everything has changed, you probably know what I mean.

Here’s how to find out when an article or blog post was published online

There are 6 ways to find out the publication date on a website that we will look at:

  1. Look for the publish date on the page
  2. Check if the URL includes the publish date
  3. Look at the comment time stamps
  4. Google the URL
  5. Check source code of the page
  6. Check Wayback Machine

1. Look for the publish date on the page

It may sound simple, and it is! Most websites will display the publish date of their articles just under the main headline. If you don’t see the publication date here, try scrolling to the bottom of the article where there is usually some information about the author – sometimes you can find other information about the article here, like the publish date.

2. Check the URL

Sometimes, even though the blog post itself doesn’t display a time stamp, the URL might. If you can’t get the exact publication date, you might at least get close enough to the month and year.

Post Date in the URL

This isn’t always a sure bet though, as most people prefer to make their URLs as short as possible and don’t use a date.

3. Look at the Comments

While many blogs may find the way to hide the time stamp on the post, some of those might not have figured out how to remove it from the comments. Try to find the oldest comment on the post – that should be the closest date to when it was published.

This may not be 100% accurate, but it should give you a pretty good idea of the publication date.

Post Date in the Comment Timestamp

4. Google it

Use the site: search operator with the URL of the post.

For example: site:domain.com/article-title

Usually, the search result that is produced will include the publish date in the description area.

Post Date in Search Results

5. Check the source code of the page

You can view the source code of a webpage by right clicking and selecting ‘View page source’ or by using the  Ctrl+U keyboard shortcut.

From here you can bring up the page search function by hitting Ctrl+F and search for the publication date by entering ‘publishdate’ or ‘datePublished’.

6. Check Wayback Machine

This is another method that is not 100% accurate, but as a last resort, it can give you some kind of indication as to when the article was first published.

Visit the Wayback Machine and enter the URL of the post. The Wayback Machine will clearly show when it was first picked up in its index, however, you need to be aware that the real publish date could be 6-12 months earlier than this, depending on the size of the site and how often the site is crawled by Wayback Machine.


Does a missing post date drive you nuts when you find an article through search? Do you remove the date on your posts for a specific reason? Please share your thoughts and any additional ways to find a missing post date in the comments!

 

This article was originally published by Kristi Hines in 2012 on SEM Group. In 2016, SEM Group joined forces with SEO Rave and this article was updated by David Butler in July 2016.

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