How do I find out the publication date on a website?

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!

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’off’]http://seorave.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/david-butler.png[/author_image] [author_info]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.[/author_info] [/author]

30 thoughts on “How do I find out the publication date on a website?”

  1. Kristi, it’s not just you! This is one of my biggest pet peeves and when I see that someone is intentionally hiding the post date I stop visiting their blog. If the date is missing at the top, I always scroll down to the comments section and if it’s missing there too, then I assume that it’s being hidden on purpose and that sends a negative signal to me about the reputation of the blogger. Your tips are awesome!
    One more thing I’ll check is a Twitter extension called The Tweet Button – it will be blank if no one has tweeted the post in the last week or so. That lets me know the content isn’t fresh and I won’t bother reading it.
    Thanks for bringing up this topic, I hope more people realize how important it is for others to know when a post was published.

    • Nice tip Ileane, and I’m glad it’s not just me! I thought it might just be because I am always looking for fresh posts for my Friday roundup and can never tell on the dateless sites. πŸ™‚

  2. I agree the post date is useful because it helps the reader and the blogger. For the reader it helps you follow a thread and see a line of thought when the post is connected to other posts. For the blogger it can save embarassment: often we write in response to an event or a note in the press and what we write can look incorrect in the light of new information. Most important of all: be open and honest and do not hide info. Thanks

    • Very true Tim. I had a plugin that tweeted posts from my archives, and I stopped it because I realized I was tweeting posts from events that had already happened. Nothing more embarrassing than thinking old content is new.

  3. It is extremely annoying when there is no date. I like to see how recent something is regardless of what it is about or where it is published. It could be 5 days old or 5 years old for all I know. I don’t want to comment on something very old, nor would I know if the article is even valid anymore. Matter of fact I wrote something similar a few months back when I was annoyed one night.

    I use a firefox addon called linkdiagnosis. It is primarily for checking backlinks, but when it’s active I can right click on a page and chose Get this page’s age. At the time of this comment it says 1 hour ago here for this page. I don’t know if it is perfect, but ball park anyway. It seems to work with older pages just as well. Could be a few pages that might not work though, but haven’t noticed any yet.

  4. Hi Kristi,

    Great tips you’re sharing here. I can never understand why people hide their blog post dates. It does take to be checking around to establish the exact publication date.

    Like Ileane, I usually scroll down to the comments section and if it’s not there as well, then I become suspicious and wonder what they’re hiding.

    All the best,
    Mavis

  5. Love the tips, Kristi – I find it rare that any content is evergreen and finding out the date can sometimes be a challenge.

  6. Hi Kristi, yes that really annoys the life out of me. I commented on a blog the other day only to discover it had been neglected since 2009! What annoys me more is if I am looking for current content and a blog like that is listed on the first page of search engines. As you said it is fine for evergreen content, but I needed a current figure for a freelancing job I was doing and that could have cost me big time.

  7. This bugs me too and not just for blogs but any page or article should have a date to let the reader know how dated or current the information is. Whether the topic or information is timeless should be down to the reader.

  8. When I research online, and for those who need references and citations for their work, we need the blog post’s date to ensure that we’re getting the accurate information. And these tips are very helpful. I used to check out the URL and didn’t know that there are other options such as Wolfram Alpha and Google Reader. Will be using them from now on. Thanks!

  9. I am just going to echo what most of the others are saying here. It annoys me when I come across a post that doesn’t have a date.

    I know some people do that so you don’t know if the post was written a day ago or a year ago, but I think this is the wrong approach.

    I feel like the blog owners thinks they can trick us or something. I don’t like to be tricked and this sort of thing makes me lose trust!

    That’s my 2 cents.

  10. Hi Kristi,
    Number 4 is the easiest and best way for me to find out when Google has published a blog or page. I check every day, my articles and other pages in this way.

  11. It annoys me to. It really gets to me when I’m doing some tech research for a project or trying to learn some more IT related resources and I come to a really great article and it doesn’t have a date, the comments have the time stamp removed, and the dates removed throughout the rest of site as well. It seems to me that some sites actually go through a lot of trouble to remove the dates. I feel like they are trying to trick me and other readers to stick around on there side. When I come across these types of sites, I leave the site and do not come back.

    Generally, I usually try and use the oldest comments method first and then try looking in the archives for at least the month it was posted. But that only works if they give you access to the archives. If that doesn’t work, I try and get date from Google search results. After that, I move on and luck for the same information with a date on it.

  12. Really informative post, 4 option really works for me, i always use google search for blog post published Date. its best for me and really easy.

    Thank you.

  13. I’ve tried to hide my posts’ date before but then, I didnt like the concept. I mean, how could the readers know if it’s still fresh or not. Anyway, thanks for this info Kristi. Although I’ve known some of them, there are still some that I know nothing about, and it’s kinda great.

  14. good points…sometimes while searching for something you may stumble upon an article only to find out its outdated. just that it relates to your search. quite unnerving at times. its good to know what is relevant to the present time.

  15. Great tips. This really does bug me when I can’t see the publish date. In SEO, it’s pretty important when something came out because of the lightning fast rate things change at. I’ve never used Wolfram Alpha before so thanks for the heads up.

  16. Yes Kristi, tip 4 is the best way to find whether the blog was published or not. You can easily find out that your post has been published by Google or not.

  17. I have an interesting problem. I found a site that has stolen a blog post from my site. They posted it on their blog as if it is theirs. Their post date is Feb 28th, 2012. That’s impossible, because I didn’t post the article online until June 8th, 2012. It is an exact, word for word copy of my article that I published in June. Yet, this person has stolen it and their blog says they published it months before me! I was trying to find a way to tell when they REALLY published it.

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