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Your site deserves bad rankings if . . .

     
10:21 pm on Jan 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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That copyright notice in your footer is for 2009 and we are now in 2016. Take pride and update your site. I'm not saying your Google rankings will disappear purely based on out of date copyright notices but webmasters that can't keep their copyright up to date tend to skip other maintenance. This leads to bad user experience which drives away visitors and business partners. Make sure you regularly fix broken links and ensure the site looks good in different desktop & mobile browsers. We all have encountered sites with bad user experience and we try to avoid them, well so does Google. Lazy webmasters are much more likely to get hit with bad Google rankings.
11:04 pm on Jan 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Funnily enough I came across a site two days ago, at #1..
That says "last updated 2010"in it's snippet..and on it's home page in the 1st paragraph..which is where G pulled the "snippet" from..
Google really doesn't care..about copyright dates, validation,hand coding etc.

Google frequently rank pages on page one that have been dead for years or that 404 when clicked on from G SERPs..

One rarely gets what one ( or one's site ) "deserves"..

Such is life..real or SERPs..

But pride in what one makes / creates says that one should "housekeep" one's pages and sites..after all "all we have is time", so doing the best one can, is using what time we have well..One rarely knows in advance when ones time will be run..

Scripts can take care of copyright dates..

[edited by: Leosghost at 11:14 pm (utc) on Jan 4, 2016]

11:10 pm on Jan 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Why would anyone hard code the year anyway
11:50 pm on Jan 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Technically the copyright date is the date of original publication. Plus any later dates where changes were made.

So:
* 'copyright 2010' is perfectly correct if that was when the page was published and no changes have been made.
* 'copyright 2010, 2013' means page originally published in 2010 and some change(s) were made in 2013.

Another view is that a site is like a book and the copyright should be a site wide one. In that instance, the above would hold if no other changes were made elsewhere on the site in other years. Perhaps the most common notice one sees is 'copyright 2010-2016' to cover original publication date and all changes and additions since. It is not best practice but it is most common.

The absolute worst thing one can do is simply change the date to the current one:
* in 2010 show 'copyright 2010'
* in 2011 show 'copyright 2011'
...
* and now change to 'copyright 2016'
because a case can be made (and has to some folks' dismay) that a scraper site showing a prior year is actually the original and the original is the infringer. At worst it can take a costly trial and the result is not guaranteed - especially without additional evidence such as wayback machine, prior years' backup copies, copyright registration, etc.

Be careful out there. There be lawyers.
12:13 am on Jan 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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* 'copyright 2010, 2013' means page originally published in 2010 and some change(s) were made in 2013.

That is the kind of thing I was thinking of in relation to "scripts"..only change the dates on pages that changed..and indicate the original creation date as well as the changed date..do not change all dates on year "rollovers"..


Because ..
* and now change to 'copyright 2016'
because a case can be made (and has to some folks' dismay) that a scraper site showing a prior year is actually the original and the original is the infringer. At worst it can take a costly trial and the result is not guaranteed - especially without additional evidence such as wayback machine, prior years' backup copies, copyright registration, etc.

Precisely ;)..
Trying to be too "sharp" ( or advising others to be "sharp" and "upto date" ) can lead to one cutting oneself..or leading others who take such advice, to injure themselves..

Last updated 2010 ( or any year apart from the current or the previous one, depending upon where one is in the current year ) however, can lead those who see that in the SERPs to think that the site or page is "abandoned"..and that can cost the website owner a click through..

[edited by: Leosghost at 12:23 am (utc) on Jan 5, 2016]

12:20 am on Jan 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The reverse must mean "pride" is a ranking signal!
12:26 am on Jan 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The reverse must mean "pride" is a ranking signal!

The reverse of what ?
2:09 am on Jan 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Funnily enough I came across a site two days ago, at #1..
That says "last updated 2010"

If you search for {name of famous dead person}, the top hit--after wikipedia and suchlike--is a page whose text says explicitly that the site is no longer being maintained. (Its stated date is 2011, but I suspect that's only when they got around to putting up the "inactive" notice, and most of the site content is years older.)

Why would anyone hard code the year anyway

Because it's meaningless to write code that says "copyright {output-current-year}" when it can be easily proven that the page content was last changed in, say, 2013. It's easy with Forums, because then the range is "{some-hard-coded-year}-{present-year}" and it will always be true.

Putting out a new edition of a book doesn't retroactively extend the copyright of earlier editions. Or didn't, back when copyright was determined by publication date. (Hm. The gap could even be wider now, if later editions are produced by some entirely different person, possibly from a later generation.)
3:09 am on Jan 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Ranks increase when you take pride in updating your copyright timestamp ...based on the ascertain made in the OP.
9:25 am on Jan 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Ranks increase when you take pride in updating your copyright timestamp


I don't know what hard evidence there is for this, but it really shouldn't have that effect. Copyright applies from the original publication date, and changing it to a later date weakens any claim of infringement. Rewarding people for weakening their entitlement serves only the plagiarist.

As far as the actual content goes, "newer" is not synonymous with "better". In general - and in research papers in particular - older publications will have had more opportunity to be tested, and it was Newton (not Einstein, 234 years his junior, who published the General Theory of Relativity in 1915) who got men to the moon.

I am not sure, either, what effect the copyright notice is likely to have on user experience, as it is usually at the bottom of the document, so certainly isn't the first thing a user sees, and probably won't be seen at all by anyone who hasn't read that far.

To cover all bases, however, Copyright <original-publication-year> - <current-year> should be OK it you want your document to look current, whether or not it is.
10:59 am on Jan 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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As I see it, goodroi was referring to updating a site. If the site was last updated in 2009, that's sure a while back. If it was updated after that date the updates should reflect that in the copyright message for new material. It's less about the copyright and more about the lack of updates.

The fact that a 2009 or 10, or whatever site may rank and not have any updates is just as much interesting to me, and that's something from which we can all learn.
12:10 pm on Jan 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@engine

As I see it, goodroi was referring to updating a site


The subject heading ("Your site deserves bad rankings if . . . That copyright notice in your footer is for 2009 and we are now in 2016") is the notices, although "Take pride and update your site" obviously refers to the site.

However - whatever others may have inferred - he is "not saying your Google rankings will disappear purely based on out of date copyright notices".

What I was saying is that Joe Ordinary's 2016 Guide to the Universe isn't necessarily an improvement on something with a 1915 copyright stamp. In the context of the OP, while some things that change with time need constant attention (dead links, browser compatibility, mobile responsiveness...), copyright applies to the content, not the presentation. Obviously some content (this week's special offer, or current newspaper headlines) needs updating frequently, but that isn't the sort of content that usually needs copyright protection: who would sue someone for copying yesterday's news? The sort of content that does need protection needs protection based on its earliest publication date, as that is the date that defines the right. If you are not wishing to protect that right as fully as you can there is no point in posting a copyright notice at all.

So while an old and unrevised copyright date might be symptomatic of neglected site maintenance, it certainly shouldn't be equated with it, by Google or anyone else.
1:00 pm on Jan 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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And (sorry, I should also have said):

The fact that a 2009 or 10, or whatever site may rank and not have any updates is just as much interesting to me, and that's something from which we can all learn.


Yes! Clearly in some cases Doing Nothing has advantages. Of particular interest to me is a key-term competitor (same business, different location), whose untouched FP site survived almost continuously in the bottom half of page 1 through every iteration of Panda, Penguin, and all else. He has very recently ditched FP in favour of a much better presentational version of the same content, and is at #12 as I write. This may have nothing at all to do with his site's facelift, and may be temporary.

His copyright notice is undated (just "Copyright BusinessName"), if that makes any difference.
1:03 pm on Jan 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I use it is advertising to the public that the site is maintained but not necessarily updated. If the algo is as clever as some claim, then an updated copyright should be a signal of ongoing maintenace, however small that signal may be.
2:34 pm on Jan 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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While we can all concede that a well maintain website tends to have a better chance at having a favorable impact in Google... This thread seems to be more about sensationalizing claims and not a scientific approach nor an artful attempt to provide insight.

IMHO!

I don't include dates in my copyright statement... So when did I last update the domain?

Call me lazy, but all pages are held with the Copyright Office. But I don't do that to rank better, I do it to protect the intellectual property and our investment.
3:01 pm on Jan 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I don't include dates in my copyright statement


Copyright ownership doesn't depend on the statement (or on the date): the statement is merely an assertion of your rights in the content. However, both are useful.

Copyright regulations vary from country to country, but the UK Copyright Service advice on copyright notices ([copyrightservice.co.uk ]) is probably useful advice wherever you are.
5:06 pm on Jan 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Not disputing the value of demonstrating copyright ownership.

I go the additional miles to actually register it with the copyright office (in the United States) within 3 months of its creation, to afford the maximum damages that can be enforced under the law.

I would believe, if Google offers any ranking favor it would be towards the endorsement of the Copyright Office, and demonstrating the law is on your side.

I wouldn't believe a bottom-level webmaster of [walmart.com...] and leaving off the date would be a negative rankng factor or [exxon.com...] still not showing 2016 or the "it's just a fad" people at [sonet.digital...] that ignored their own advice only a year later.
5:49 pm on Jan 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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There is a perception out there (not saying by/from anyone in this thread) that current dated copyright is a ranking factor because Google 'rewards' freshness. On the face of it it is extremely silly but then so are many SEO mutterings.

While I am not aware of any SE pronouncement regarding page/site copyright notice being an algorithm input I am open to being corrected if anyone has link/quote.
9:28 am on Jan 6, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Google does not award freshness if the content you put out is similar to some old content. Freshness is awarded only when you have something relevant at the relative exact time of the search intent, say the latest concert news, interview, or oil price change. For regular informational content you have in same cases a grace period where your content ranks on par with the other already established versions, but more often than not, seniority is the factor at play.
9:31 am on Jan 6, 2016 (gmt 0)

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As I see it, goodroi was referring to updating a site.
That's how I see it too. Routine chores as the calendar flips over to a new year brought the topic of copyright dates to mind, but I don't think that was the sole intention of this thread.

It's a good time to update templates in general, to deal with annual paperwork, make sure your registrar has your current credit card number, etc. Not all of this is Google-related by any means, but much to deal with on a site, behind the scenes and on the page.

Make sure you regularly fix broken links and ensure the site looks good in different desktop & mobile browsers (etc)... Lazy webmasters are much more likely to get hit with bad Google rankings.

Yes, however and whenever one does that... it needs to be done. If you've let it go for a while, you might be astonished how many links are broken.

I find the change of year is also a good time to take one's bearings, look ahead at how search has changed in the past year, as well as where it's going. If you're a small company or a one-man band, you're simply not going to be able to deal with it all at once... so make some lists and prioritize what needs doing. Maybe this is the year for semantic markup (a pet theory of mine). Maybe this is the time to move to HTML5, or to mobile, or even to reassess the business model or targeting in the face of how the web is evolving.
.
4:03 pm on Jan 6, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Not disputing the alleged suggestion that preventive maintenance is a good thing, in general. But in reality the implied focused is somewhat different. IMHO

A geniune example (if I may)

Matt Cutts posted in his blog August 9, 2009 this post [mattcutts.com...] the video anchored by "here" goes to [davecurlee.com...] that has been a defunct blog since April 2012.

Only today did that website update with a custom 404 page. Suggesting Godaddy wants to auction the domain off, for more than the backorder fee as they paid their $80 retention fee.

[archive.org...] shows for 4 years a dead site.

So while preventive maintenance might indeed be desirable it generally doesn't likely have any real impact on ranks contrary to the OPs implied meaning.

Trust we all believe Matt Cutts domain deserves ranks but he purposely removed the Copyright Statement from the footer.

Course he is on an extended vacation, which taints my example.
9:34 pm on Jan 6, 2016 (gmt 0)

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My competitor has a copyright date of 2012 and he's seemingly been grandfathered into a #1 spot since then. It's funny because the information he provided on that #1 result no longer applies. Over time you'd think Google would have noticed the bounce rate but because of a link on that page that is really enticing to click people continue deeper into the site anyway. Since nothing on the site changes I suppose it doesn't trigger a new call for a human rater to come look, or they have and don't know the subject enough to spot outdated content... who knows.

I think that confirms that a simple old copyright notice isn't enough to lose rankings over. Some sites use code to ensure that the date is always current anyway so it means little on many sites.
11:59 pm on Jan 6, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Since I agree with most of the above I really don't have anything to add, but I will say thanks to the OP.... made me look and one of my site footers with reads "Site content copyright xxxx-xxxx" had not been updated in four years, though each NEW page had the correct copyright date ie.

Page Title
Copyright xxxx
Body content follows

Too many sites, too little time, too focused on other things. So:

Thanks!
 

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