Dates on Content and how to keep things evergreen

Sometimes, I don’t spend enough time explaining things to people. Most times, I spend too much time explaining things. This is usually because when I don’t properly explain, people fail to understand what I’m trying to say, and then I end up writing huge overly detailed emails. Today, I got yelled at by someone for wasting time by writing the story below.

Backstory: Our content manager decided that she wanted to add the post dates to articles on a site. I told her that it wasn’t a good idea, because we we want our content to appear evergreen. Apparently, she didn’t understand that, because her reply was “It’s ok, we’re publishing more content now than we were before; lets add the dates.”

So, I wrote this:

The year is 1998, and Billy Bob posts a great article on salt licks. It’s a great article on salt licks, and receives many in links from hunters and bloggers everywhere who find Billy Bob’s casual writing style comforting and his 5th grade vocabulary creditable. The page does very well in the search engines and earns quite a chunk of cash for the site’s owner, who decides to sell the website to an evil corporate empire.

Time passes, and the salt lick article ends up in the hands of the benevolent and witty Josefin. Caring as much as she does, she decides to spruce up the articles by adding things to them, like the date that they were written. She is warned by the evil, crotchety project manager from the 11th floor, with a penchant for saying ‘no’ to tasks that he doesn’t want to do. Josefin believes that he’s just being lazy, and disregards his fear mongering and has the dates added anyway.

As hunting season begins, Johnny Ray does a Google search for “huntin’ wit salt licks” and Billy Ray’s article, as usual, pops up as the #1 result! Johnny Ray clicks on through.

When Johnny Ray looks at the date at the top of the article, he sees that it’s over 10 years old! Now, since Johnny ain’t no dummy, he realizes that in the past decade there have been significant changes in the laws concerning baiting animals, as well as improvements in the mineral composition of salt blocks. Johnny Ray decides that he should probably look for content that is more recent, to be sure that he’s getting the most up to date information. Johnny Ray clicks the back button.

Google is very happy to see Johnny Ray back so soon, and makes note of it in it’s logs. Google then watches Johnny Ray click in the second link on the page. “Gosh,” Google thinks, “I guess Billy Bob’s article on salt licks isn’t as good as I thought it was. Maybe I’ll lower it further down the search pages”.

“But wait!” Shouts Josefin from behind her cube. “We’re updating the site with more and more content every day!”

Google glances at Josefin with a slight smile. “Oh, and we’ll eventually get around to ranking those articles for their merit and appropriately listing them in position we think they belong. But, according to Johnny Ray, this article is no longer the most creditably article on the topic of salt licks. Sorry.”

Somewhere on the 11th floor, the evil project manager dies a little inside.

Her next message was “Fine, leave the dates off.”

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