I was doing some revision and rewriting on Complaining About Food, to improve the WordPress.com Reader SEO, and noticed some issues with ranking on searches for these rewritten articles. These are my insights so far.
- If you change the date on an old post to something recent, it won’t be considered “new” when you search for it, and sort by date.
- If you create a new post and put an old date on it, it also won’t be considered new.
- Search results seem to go back around 2 years.
I found this when I searched for a tag I was using, “diabetic-diet“, a post I wrote titled “Testing and Spiking Different Foods for Type 2 Diabetes“, and another old page I re-created as a post “Ran Out of Glucose Test Strips; Did Low Carb to Stay Low“.
Old Posts with New Dates
“Testing and Spiking” was an old article that had a lot of likes, and had gotten some traffic, so I wanted to preserve the likes and URL. I had too many short, similar posts, so I consolidated several onto this URL, making a mega-post, which I post-dated for the near future, hoping to get more likes through the WordPress Reader.
No such luck. Even worse, when I was doing a search for the “diabetic-diet” tag, I found that the article showed up at the end of the search results when I sorted by date!
My best guess is that WordPress sees this new post, probably can tell that it’s the same as an old post, maybe because there’s an internal ID, and won’t update its internal creation dates. I don’t know if the page gets re-indexed.
Additionally, I didn’t see search results dated earlier than 2019 (this post was written in 2020).
New Posts with Old Dates
I had an old page that I wanted to retain as a post, so I copied the content to a fresh post, but put an old date on it (May 2019). Then, I deleted the old page.
Searching for it turned up nothing. Normally, new posts get into my reader in a few minutes to an hour, but waiting didn’t seem to work this time. Maybe WordPress.com thought it was an SEO trick.
Maybe posts with old dates just don’t get picked up, because they won’t end up in the RSS feeds. Mine shows only 20 results, and they are sorted by the post date which I set.
I don’t care enough to test.
How This Affects Posting Tactics
Converting old pages to posts, I will just keep doing the same thing, because I don’t care about getting traffic to those, at this time.
Converting old posts into new, longer rewrites, should be done into new posts, with dates in the future.
Delete the original posts, so they won’t get detected as duplicate content. Link from the old posts to the new content, first. Submit these changes to Google Search Console, so the pages get reindexed, and the old text removed. Add the word “delete” to the title. Later, search for “delete”, and remove the posts. If the page has inbound links, I don’t mark it for deletion, and don’t remove the post.
(My goal with these rewrites is to improve the ratio of longer, high-quality posts to short lower-quality blog posts. Whether I’ve achieved this is questionable.)