Google search listing dates do actually differ because of relevancy, according to in-house webmaster trends analyst, John Mueller…
John Mueller, a Google webmaster trends analyst, says search results listing dates can indeed differ, due to relevancy. In other words, Google might display the original date of publication or date of last modification, depending on which it deems most relevant to search intent.
Google Search Listing Dates Depend on Relevancy
The topic came up in a recent Google Webmaster Central hangout when a participant asked the following question:
“Why do search results sometimes show a publication date and time instead of the last modification date and time? Wouldn’t it be useful for the user doing it the other way around?”
Muller explains this is a known issue inside the search engine. And, individuals within the company debate about which is more preferable. He states both sides make good arguments for their respective positions.
Google’s search algorithms do not have a default date selection. Instead, date selection (either publication or last modification) actually depend on what’s deemed most relevant to a particular page.
In other words, if a modification significantly changes the page’s overall message, Google will show the date of last modification. But, if content is modified and it doesn’t not substantially impact the underlying takeaway, Google will display the original publication date.
Here’s what Mueller said about the issue:
“That’s something that we sometimes argue with with the dates team, but I see there are good arguments both ways.
In our algorithms we don’t always pick one or the other as the one that we will show. Sometimes we feel that the original date makes sense to show, and sometimes it makes sense to show the last modification date where we know that something significant changed on this page that affects what the user is looking for.
So I think there are arguments that could be made for both directions, and that’s kind of why we try to be a bit flexible there with the algorithms.”