Google’s John Mueller addressed the ongoing issues and complaints about how Google displays dates in the search results snippets and how sometimes, maybe more often than anyone wants, the dates in the snippets are wrong. John said most of the time they are not an SEO trick, it is just Google picking up the wrong dates from maybe content in the article, maybe a comment date or something else – but most often, it is not some sort of spam tactic.
Why is it not a spam tactic? Well, having a different date typically doesn’t help the article rank better in organic search. Although, it may impact Google News.
John said at the 27:33 mark in the last webmaster hangout:
Sometimes we pick up dates wrong. So that’s something where I know that dates team is looking into cases like this, so I can pass this on.
But in general, we try to figure out what what the date is that’s relevant to the page and try to show that. And it’s more a matter of just showing it in the snippets, than any kind of SEO trick.
I suspect we’re seeing some other date somewhere else in the article. So maybe like we’re accidentally picking up a comment date or something like that.
I wouldn’t assume that this is some kind of SEO trick that they’re trying to do because it wouldn’t really change anything from our side with regards to ranking anyway. It’s just really just a snippet that we show there.
So that’s something there if you run across things like this, you’re welcome to submit feedback on the bottom of the search results. There’s like a feedback link to let us know about these kind of things. But it’s it’s sometimes tricky with dates because it’s sometimes an article is updated and sometimes it’s updated a lot later than it was originally published. And it’s like which state shall we show? The original date or the updated date? That’s that sometimes hard to say but sometimes we also get the dates wrong, so that seems to be the case here.
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.