Every article published publicly on the web has a published and last updated date attached to it. In addition to these two dates, there is also an indexed date shown in the search results. Whether you are a webmaster or a user, sometimes you may need one of these dates for various purposes like citing or linking on your page or for content validation.
Published Vs Last Updated Vs Indexed Date
There are three basic dates related to any webpage published online:
Published date – original date on which the author published the article to make it available on the web.
Last updated or last modified date – this is the date the article was last modified by the author.
Indexed date – date on which the search engine crawler indexes the page for public display in search results.
Usage of These Dates
Generally all blog posts should have published or last updated date so that viewers can understand the validity of the content easily. For example, if you are reading an article on “Google Webmaster Tools” with screenshots you need to know the validity of the screenshots on that article to follow the instruction. Or else the current webmaster tools will be having completely different interface than the screenshots shown on the article.
How to Find the Last Updated Date of a Web Page?
In the above scenario even the initial published date if available on the page may not help much and you may be interested in finding the last updated date of the article. Follow the below methods to find out the last modified date of a web page.
Method 1 – Check HTTP Header from Page Source
Internet uses HTTP protocol to send and receive data. You can check out our article on how HTTP works. You can get the HTTP header details of a web page to find the last updated date.
- Use our free HTTP header checker tool to get the details of any web page. Simply type any URL of a web page and get the details like below including the last modified date.
- Alternatively, you can right click on the page and view the source code, the last updated date if available can be found in one of the <meta> tags within <head>…</head> section. Search the code using “Control + F” or “Command + F” with the keyword like “update”, “modify” or “date”.
- Try to use Developer Tools to find the HTTP header response which should contain the date in “Last-Modified” parameter.
Method 2 – Use XML Sitemap
All popular websites have XML Sitemap for informing search engines about the structure of the site. Depending upon the Sitemap structure, you can check whether the Sitemap contains the last updated date.
- Open the Sitemap of any website using the URL like “https://websitename.com/sitemap.xml”.
- Check out the “Last Modified” date against the web page URL you want to find.
- As you can see in the below example of our site, each page has a last modified date to help search engines understanding the content modification date and index the pages accordingly.
Method 3 – Using Google Search
Use Google search with the search query as “inurl:sitename.com/page-url/“. Now go to the browser’s address bar and add “&as_qdr=y15” at the end of the search URL and hit enter. You will see a search result displayed with a date at the start of meta description. The date shown in Google search is the last indexed date which should be approximately equal to the last updated date of that web page.
Method 4 – Using Command URL
- Open the webpage in a browser that you want to find the last updated date.
- Press enter to see a popup showing the last updated or modified date of that page.
Method 5 – Use Google Cache
In our recent article we have explained different ways to check the cached content in Google. You can use the Google cached date as an indication of the last modified date of a page.
- Use our free Google cache checker to find the last cached date of any web page.
- You can also directly get the cached data from Google Search. When you find the search result in Google Search, click on the small arrow at the end of the URL and select “Cached” option.
- You can get snapshot of the cached content details along with the last cached date by Google crawler.
Method 6 – Use Internet Archive
Internet archive is a non-profit organization that owns a crawling engine named Wayback Machine. It collects a snapshot of all publicly available web pages which you can use to get the last modified date.
- Open internet archive website.
- Type the web page in the Wayback Machine search box on the home page and hit enter key.
- You will see complete details of the snapshots between the first indexed date to the last found date. In our example, our website home page has 197 snapshots between October 25, 2012 and April 25, 2019.
- You can use these snapshots to find the content updated on the page. However, this is not a guaranteed date of last update. It is simply a snapshot of the last crawling from Wayback Machine crawler.
Display Last Updated Date in WordPress Site
If you are a site owner, you may be also interested in showing the last updated date on your webpages. This is an easy task to manually add a text and date in HTML pages. However, you need to use some functions on PHP based WordPress sites. Most of the standard WordPress themes show the published date by default using the function like below.
Published on <?php echo get_the_time(); ?>
You can use the below function to get the last modified date and display anywhere inside a dynamically generated WordPress PHP page.
Updated on <?php echo get_the_modified_time(); ?>
You may replace the existing code or add this code on your blog post template, generally single.php file. We use this code on our website as post meta data displaying the updated on and date below the page title.
There are many ways to find the last updated or last modified date of a web page. HTTP header and XML Sitemap methods are reliable and exactly show the date as they are automatically generated. Other methods are approximate which you can use when header or Sitemap details are not available.