Dated Material on Your Website – Yes or No?

Dated Material on Your Website – Yes or No?

Depending on the type of website you have, you may or may not have the option to add a timestamp or date on your recently updated content. Perhaps you keep a blog and occasionally write about your new product line, maybe you post news announcements about your company, or for some of my seasonally impacted companies who add promotions / event / holiday content to improve conversions. Should you be adding specific and dates to these items or leave them off?

The answer: it depends

There are pros and cons to adding dated material to your website, most will weigh heavily on how often you are adding new content or modify content on your site.Take for example www.hornchurchlocksmith.co.uk

Dated content may:

Pros

  1. Give the visitor a sense that you are still an active site. This is critical for any e-commerce website, as nobody will want to place an order from a website they aren’t even sure is still an active company.
  2. Give your content a frame of reference to go by in the future. An article on how to create a drop shadow in Photoshop for a family portrait photography may be exactly what your visitors are looking for … but not if your article is from 2006.
  3. Give your visitor a reason to remember you and come back another time. Seeing recent updates on the site will reassure the visitor that you are dedicated to keeping your content fresh. If they know you will be updating regularly, they may come back to see what’s new instead of trying to search for another site to get their updates from.

Cons

  1. Give the visitor a sense that you are not still active (if your content is not updated often). This is very important when it comes to any seasonal content. Even if it is not dated, a website that still has Christmas content featured in January or an upcoming event that actually happened two weeks ago will give users a negative image of your dedication.
  2. Give visitors unreal expectations. For example, view more if you post occasional sales on your website and your customers have seen them listed in your archive, they may assume that there could be one coming up and hold off from making their purchase. All dated / time sensitive content should always be removed once the final day has been met.
  3. Give visitors an incorrect assumption about how old the content is. Dated material on the wrong content can cause visitors to question the content itself. The housing market has fluctuated greatly over the past few years, but what worked 10 years ago may still work today.¬†An article written on ways to improve your chances of selling your home may be something that is relevant for multiple years down the road (we all know improving kitchens and baths are where it’s at) but by adding a date stamp, their may be an assumption that it was only correct during that timeframe.

These are just a few of the pros and cons to adding a timestamp to your content. Only you will be able to determine the frequency of your updates and how well it will work for your site. For some, the positives may far outweigh the negatives, and for others, it may not be worth the hassle. That’s all I have for this Thursday, February 23rd, 2012.

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