Updating content - changing the published date?

When editing a published article (could be years old) to add in additional information to keep it relevant/up to date, do you change the published date to the current date?

I’ve got a few different types of articles that will require updates, it could be yearly updates or some may not need updating for a few years. These articles are linked all over the web and are used as references in some places so I don’t want to change the urls.

I’m not sure if there is a best practice when dealing with something like this. I’m thinking of just changing the published date to reflect the latest change and just add in a comment to say when the article was originally published and that it has now been updated.

I use Wordpress so want to make sure the content displays on the homepage to show the updates but I think the only way to do that is changing the published date.

I don’t know if changing the date would cause any issues with Google either…

Any help/advice would be appreciated.

Thanks all

Unless you intend to completely rewrite the article, I would leave the original date and add that it has been updated in a comment or maybe in a short paragraph at top explaining that the article was updated and why the update was necessary and/or beneficial.

However, on the other hand, I often search in Google for articles written in the past month or year. I don’t know whether or not changing the original date would be a help or a hindrance.

In the copyright info (if you use it) you might put “Copyright MM/DD/YYYY - MM/DD/YYYY”. However, that in itself doesn’t declare that the info was updated.

Not much help, but I know that I would take the first option (original date and update note) if it were my article. But then, I don’t care much what Google thinks as long as my visitors get the message.

It’s true that Google gives value to content that is updated and unique, affecting the date will temporarily (if any) improve your rankings.

You can change the date on posts quite easily in WP, either by changing the database entries or much simpler by using the front view. Go in your post, select edit, and on the right-hand side on the ‘publishing’ pane, adjust the date to your desired publishing date.

If it’s an old article it’s best left as an old article, duping dates only really needs to be done if it was not published prior, or for one reason or another needed republishing after a great deal of work being done to it.

I’d go with Shyflower’s suggestion, too. I’d place some update notes on my old post, then maybe make it a lot more noticeable by putting a snippet of the updated content on the front page of my site. It’s either that or I can make a completely new post that would compare the things that are happening right now with the state of things back when the old content was written.

Changing the published date is often easier in Wordpress. However, if you have some time you can check out the Wordpress Codex for details on the modified_date PHP code.

By editing your theme you can then switch the published date to read the modified date. Any updates in the future will then be displayed on the published post without having to change the actual published date.

This is how some sites have “published on …” and the “reviewed on …” or “updated on …”. But don’t use two dates on the same post as it can be confusing as I have discovered from experience.

I would agree with the above. If you’re doing a major rewrite of your article then IMO it’s best to post it as a separate article and leave the original as reference (you could even post a link to the old article from the new one).

If you’re just editing to keep the article up-to-date and current, then I’d agree with leaving the published date as is and appending a note to either the beginning or end of your article stating what changed and why.