For a site owner, determining the dates which are displayed next to a web page in search results is, without doubt, a daunting task.

To determine the right date for a website’s page, Google shares a few guidelines, making it convenient than ever before.

How Google Determines Dates

Google determines dates based on the following factors:

  • Any prominent date listed on the page itself.
  • Dates provided by the publisher through structured markup.

“Sometimes, structured data may be lacking or may not be adjusted to the correct time zone. That’s why our systems look at several factors to come up with what we consider to be our best estimate of when a page was published or significantly updated.” says Google.

Sometimes Google only shows the date of a page when it’s considered particularly relevant to the content. For example, for pages that can be time-sensitive, including news content.

How Google Specifies Dates

To help Google to pick the right date, site owners and publishers should:

  • Show a clear date: Show a visible date prominently on the page.
  • Use structured data: Use the datePublished and dateModified schema with the correct time zone designator for AMP or non-AMP pages. When using structured data, make sure to use the ISO 8601 format for dates.

Specific Guidelines To Google News

Google News requires both, the date and time when the content will be published or updated, and should be positioned between the headline and the article text.

Google suggests that if an article has been substantially changed, then don’t artificially freshen it up without adding significant information or some other compelling reason for the freshening.

Best Practices for Most Web Pages

In addition to the above guidelines, Google also shared a list of best practices for most web sites to follow.

  • Show when a page has been updated.
  • Use the right time zone.
  • Use a consistent date & time format in the structured data and visible on-page content.
  • Don’t use future dates or dates related to what a page is about.
  • Follow Google’s structured data guidelines.
  • Troubleshoot by minimizing other dates on the page.

If you have any further query, feel free to drop by the Google’s webmaster help forums.


Ritu from PageTraffic is a qualified Google Ads Professional and Content Head at PageTraffic. She has been the spear head for many successful Search Marketing Campaigns and currently oversees Content Marketing operations of PageTraffic in India.