WordPress offers two content types by default – one is post and another is page. Many bloggers get confused with posts and pages and use them in wrong manner. You have to use blog posts for time bound content that will change based on the time. On other hand pages are static in nature without much changes in the content from time to time. Therefore, when using blog posts you should show users about the relevancy of content for the current date. The best option is to show the last updated or modified date so that users can easily understand the relevancy. In this article we will explain how to show the last updated date in WordPress blog to offer good user experience.
Published Vs Last Updated
In our article, we have explained how to find the last updated date. Here we give you a summary of what is published and last updated date in WordPress:
- Published date – when you click on “Publish” button in WordPress editor.
- Last updated date – time you last edited an already published post.
WordPress stores both these dates in the database. However, many themes output only the published date as a default meta data in posts and archive pages.
Impact on Google Search Results
Showing published or modified date will not have ranking impact on Google search. However, the date is shown in the search and hence users can decide to view the page or not. As users tend to view the latest content, it is a good idea to show last updated date on search results to increase the click through date.
You can also hide the dates from your frontend as well as from the Google search. However, this is not a good practice as blog posts are time bounded articles.
How to Show Last Updated Date in WordPress Blog?
Some themes like GeneratePress supports showing last updated date using filters. If your theme does not support this feature, you can use WP Last Modified Info” plugin to customize the date settings on your site.
Installing WP Last Modified Info Plugin
Login to your WordPress admin panel and navigate to “Plugins > Add New” section. Use the search box and enter “last updated” to filter the “WP Last Modified Info” plugin.
Click the install button and then activate it on your site. After activating, the plugin will create a menu under “Settings > WP Last Modified Info” and navigate to there.
Customize Plugin Settings
First turn on “Enable for Posts/Pages on Frontend:” option to enable showing last updated date on the content. The plugin offers large number of settings to customize the display and show correct date format in Google search results.
You can do the followings under post options tab:
- Choose the display method – you have four options like before content, after content, replace published date and manual shortcode. If you do not want to show original published date then choose “Replace Published Date” option. This will only show the last modified date replacing the original published date. However, it may not work with all themes. In such a case, use “Template Tags” as explained in next section.
- Setup the date format to show on the article.
- Disable showing modified dates on archives like post index, home page, etc.
- Published Time & Modified Time Gap – use this option to set the gap between published and modified date. For example, some time you update the post immediately for correction. In this case, you can use this gap to determine what time after published date is considered for showing modified date. The plugin uses a calculation like modified date = published date + gap to show the modified date on the article.
- Choose the content to show and the author who modified the content.
- Select which post types you want to enable to show last modified date. Here you can choose posts and other content post types on your site.
After changing settings, click “Save” button to make sure all your settings are saved. After content display should show something like below on your post.
We use after content display with the following template:
<p class="post-modified-info">Last Updated on %post_modified% by <a href="%author_url%" target="_blank" class="last-modified-author">%author_name%</a></p>
You can customize the display by adding the following CSS under “Appearance > Customize > Additional CSS” section:
box-shadow: 1px 1px #d5d4d4;
border: 1px solid #eeeded;
border-radius: 5px;padding: 0 5px 0 10px;
Though the above “Post Options” are useful, you can directly replace your theme’s template meta data under “Template Tags” tab.
- Choose “Replace Post Meta Date” option for “Enable xxxxxx Theme Support” option. The plugin will automatically pick your active theme and show the options for that template. When you choose to replace, the first “Post Options” tab will disappear and the default frontend display under “Post Options” tab will also be disabled.
- Now, you can change the date format and setup the template tags to show last updated date under post title.
We recommend using template tags option if you want to show the date natively like the theme’s display. Alternatively, go for post options to show the date after content which is also good idea to inform users published date below title and last updated below the content.
This is important settings to choose what date you want to show in Google search results. We recommend to show the last modified date so that users can understand the article is having latest content right from the search results page.
- The plugin will select the default mode with your theme’s blog post schema. However, you can change the schema if you want from the dropdown.
- Make sure to select “Posts” for the JSPN-LD markup. This will determine to show the last updated date in search results instead of original published date.
Remaining tabs are self-explanatory for setting notifications, tools and help section. However, there are some useful settings under “Misc. Options” tab. Here you can choose to convert the original published date to always show modified date or hide dates from search engines.
You can view the last modified date of all posts under “Posts” admin page. This will help you to sort the posts based on updated date and view them in a single page.
In addition, the plugin will enable additional meta boxes in Gutenberg editor when you have selected before/after content or replace published date options under “Post Options” tab. You can use these meta boxes to do the followings:
- Disable showing last updated date for that particular post.
- Manually edit the date to show different updated date.
- Disable updating the date and show the current last updated date always even you continue to update later point of time.
Remember these meta boxes will be available only after you publish a blog post and not when you creating a new post.
Frequently Asked Questions in Last Updated Date
Here are some of the frequently asked questions related to last updated date in WordPress:
You can see the published date of articles on the blog post generally below the title and on archive pages like blog index.
We recommend to show the last updated date since blog articles contain time bound content.
It is possible to hide all dates. However, this is a bad practice to hide date when the content is time bound.
You can either replace original published date and show below post title with a text mentioning “Modified” or “Last Updated”. Alternatively, you can display published date under title and show last updated date after the post content.
Yes, Google can show the date if you use proper schema output on your blog posts.
You can customize the option to show which date to show in Google. If you show both dates in frontend, generally Google will pick the original published date. You can use plugin like WP Last Modified Date to customize the options.
No, we don’t think showing or hiding dates can affect the ranking. However, showing date can increase click through rate and Google likes new content as users. One impact is that you need to adjust the meta description length considering the date is also displayed.
Since the plugin settings may affect Google search results, you can test carefully after the setup. We recommend to show the last updated date in search results as well to users in the frontend. Generally, last updated date is important for understanding the relevancy and original published date is not much important for users.