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Google datestamp prefix in serps

 6:50 pm on Sep 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

I don't know the correct term for this which is possibly why I've had very little success searching for existing answers.

I'm referring to the date that appears before the meta description in Google serps, like this:

24 Jul 2009 ... Blah blah blah

It appears for some websites but not for others so my first question is what causes it to appear?

My problem is that it has appeared for one of my websites - a site that is updated daily - but with a very old date and, obviously, I'd rather not have one at all than something misleading like this.

FYI: The pages do NOT return a Last-Modified header, have been re-uploaded as well as being updated via includes and have been regularly recrawled.



 9:55 pm on Sep 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

Rule of thumb appears to be a date on the page that's in close proximity to (something that appears to be) a page title.


 10:52 pm on Sep 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

The index page has the today's date directly under the h2 and every page carries a datestamp before the main page content.


 1:52 pm on Sep 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Does no-one have any information about this?


 7:29 pm on Sep 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

For the basics about this new feature at Google, see Rich Snippets and Microformats [webmasterworld.com].

We also have threads that Google currently classifies some sites as forums or blogs that are not forums or blogs - and they are getting the rich snippet treatment when it's not really appropriate.


 8:30 pm on Sep 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the link tedster. An interesting read - even more bad news for me though.

My website provides information on its main page relevant to today so rich snippets would become outdated (and thus not particularly rich) within 24hrs max.

Given that Google has recently admitted it overlooked the importance of breaking-news feeds (Twitter) it's surprises me that they'd still be pursuing more caching.

As it is, my website scores #1 in Google for the appropriate search but they've stuck "12 Sep 2008 ... " in front of the description making it appear hopelessly out-of-date given that the description refer to information which changes daily.

I had to drill down to page 4 to find another site with a date in front of it like that (also 2008 btw).

I wish I could discover what is so "special" about my site (and very few others) to get this treatment.


 10:25 pm on Sep 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Does the "12 Sep 2008" date appear anywhere on your page (whether visible or hidden) or in the meta-tags?

Or does that date have any significance in the "life of that page?"



 10:40 pm on Sep 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

You know what... yes it does! I have found it in one of the paragraphs. It's not formatted like that but it is there. I will have a close look at the code but right now I'm going to delete it and see if anything changes.

Thanks Jim.

Receptional Andy

 10:51 pm on Sep 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

There are quite a few related threads on the site documenting the history of this feature. This one comments on some aspects of controlling the date:

Snippets and Preceding Dates [webmasterworld.com]


 11:50 pm on Sep 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks Andy. That's an interesting read.

Be sure that if your content is date driven, that the date of last revision is the first date that Google sees in the source.

This was actaully true of my site. The latest date appeared twice in the rendered source in different formats, however - and this probably the key - the paragraph (almost at the bottom of the source) containing the 12 Sep 2008 date was the only place where the date was formatted mm/d/yyyy.

I think it was my lack of the use of the word "snippets" that caused me not to find threads relating to the date prefix.

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