In the past I’ve spoken about why I turned off blog comments, but it was mostly from a time/labor perspective. Now I have another reason, one that affects everyone from an SEO Perspective. In some cases. leaving comments on will negatively impact your rankings and traffic.
In some cases, having a date in your SERP is a good thing. If someone is looking for an answer or information and comes across a listing with a recent date, they are more likely to click that listing. If your listing happens to have a date and it’s recent, that’s a bonus for you. If your listing shows up and has an old date, you’re more likely to not get clicked because readers feel that your information might be old and outdated. Is this fair? No. But it’s the truth.
I’ve spoken before about the value of creating evergreen content for your website. But if you play by the rules and do that now, you’re leaving yourself wide open to Google slitting your throat under the misguided premise of user experience. Let’s have an example. Is a post that’s 5 years old about how to paint your living room better or worse than a post from the past year about how to paint your living room? The correct answer is you don’t know until you’ve read them. But if you don’t think the post with the newer date will get more clicks, you need to get your head out of the sand. Are there queries where date plays a role? Sure. In a query about what dress a celebrity wore at the recent awards show, the date plays huge factor. But for a lot of queries it doesn’t matter at all. However, Google’s algo isn’t smart enough to know when date plays a role and to only show the date when it matters, so they show it all the time. Those publishers who are collateral damage get screwed … unless they do something about it.
My recommendation is to remove any and all dates from the page after 3-6 months. Removing the post date from the article meta information area is easy. If you have comments, you have to monkey with the code to remove the date, or you can go hardcore and turn them off entirely. You need to remove any traces of publication dates from the page. Now if you were really aggressive, you could actually forge the publication date on the page … Not that I’m encouraging that kind of behavior. I’m just presenting it as an alternative for educational purposes and to be thorough
This is the kind of information you need to be aware of and decide how you are going to deal with when going forward. You could sit back and wait and hope no one steals your traffic, or you could feed Google the info you want them to have–and nothing more. Personally, I don’t like leaving my fate up to chance.