Since Google began showing dates in the search results snippets many have noticed Google pull the wrong date from time to time. Some of it is due to publishers intentionally tricking Google but most of the time, it is Google just getting it wrong. Google has published a blog post today around dates in snippets to help publishers and searchers understand how Google shows dates in snippets.
This is what it looks like for a date to show in the Google Search Results (click to enlarge):
Google algorithmically determines when to show a date in the system, it is automated. Google wrote “Google shows the date of a page when its automated systems determine that it would be relevant to do so, such as for pages that can be time-sensitive, including news content.”
The date Google selects is based on numerous signals include but not limited to “any prominent date listed on the page itself or dates provided by the publisher through structured markup.”
Here is how to help Google pick up the right date:
Show a clear date: Show a visible date prominently on the page.
Use structured data: Use the datePublished and dateModified schema with the correct time zone designator for AMP or non-AMP pages. When using structured data, make sure to use the ISO 8601 format for dates.
Then Google lists the Google News guidelines around dates and then some best practices.
As I said, Google has had their issues with showing the right dates in the snippets. Google even showed future dates in the snippets before and they know they have an issue as we said before. This snippet date thing is an ongoing issue for Google, we’ve covered it many times. In fact, sometimes it shows the impossible and sometimes people do trick Google but the signals Google uses for picking up dates is not perfect and it is an ongoing project for them.
Forum discussion at Twitter.