When it comes to searching for reliable information about search ranking factors, few people are more re-tweeted and referenced than John Mueller, well known by his Twitter handle @JohnMu. Like any good webmaster, I follow him on social media, and listen carefully to what he says.
However, I often take his proclamations with a pinch of salt for several reasons. And one of them was that it’s not worth changing the title of your post to reflect the year. So for example, if you have a page that says:
“Best Products XYZ”
then changing it to:
“Best Products XYZ for [year name]“
is wrong. I’m referring particularly to this Reddit post where he weighed in with a snarky remark about how changing the title to reflect the year is a sign of “low-quality content”.
But I disagree with this heartily, and for many reasons as explained below.
1. It Works
There’s often a big difference between theory and practice. Too often I’ve seen people in the SEO field spout theory, based either on what someone said, or what “seems” right. And when it comes to changing the date in your title, I have one simple observation to separate the BS from the facts.
So changing your title to “Best Products in [year]” will lead to more clickthroughs, and consequently more sales. Not just that, if Google’s RankBrain algorithm update is anything to go by, your results will also start moving up slowly in the SERPS as people engage with it.
At the very least, it’s also a signal to visitors that you’re paying some attention to the page – even if it’s only to change the title.
2. It’s What Customers Expect
John Mueller’s own advice, and the official guidelines from Google say that the customer comes first, and that you must give the searcher what they’re looking for.
Well, a lot of customers include the year in their search. So “giving the customers what they want”, simply means tailoring your title most closely to what you feel they’re looking for. And so changing the title every year makes sense because it’s good for the customer.
It goes without saying of course, that you should keep your content and page updated. But regardless, changing the date in your title is a good idea that not only increases clickthroughs, but also gives your viewers what they expect to find.
Sometimes, Google’s Goals and Yours Aren’t Aligned
What a lot of “experts” on SEO tend to miss when they point to statements from Google about ranking, is that it’s not in Google’s interests to give you straightforward rules on how to rank. If they did that, then everyone would start following those guidelines, making them useless.
As a result, unless a statement is definitive and technical, I tend to view everything that comes from Google with a grain of salt.
Google Can Tell the Truth – In a Misleading Way
One example is Google saying “Don’t build links as part of your SEO strategy”. This is such a blatantly wrong strategy, that it boggles the mind that anyone actually believes it. We all know that links play a huge role in ranking.
But is Google lying? Perhaps not technically. Maybe they’re saying “Great content will lead people to link to you organically”. In fact, they’ve even said that you need to market your site in traditional ways…and presumably that would include people linking back to you.
So is Google trying to deliberately mislead us? After following their statements from years…I would actually say “Yes, they are”. Doubtless if you were to ask them to justify their statements, they’ll find some roundabout way of showing that their advice isn’t actually a falsehood.
Always view Google’s and John Mueller’s SEO guidelines with suspicion. Some stuff they say is outright wrong – like telling us not to include the year and date in our page titles. Some of their recommendations are misleading. And occasionally, they tell the absolute truth 🙂
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!