We’re approaching the end of the year, and websites need to start preparing for the different ways this can impact their appearance in the search results. For example, my site promotes NameHero services and compares hosting solutions with one another. A large amount of my traffic comes from people using search terms with the year – in this case, 2020. As soon as the new year hits, I need to change all my titles and content that contains “2020” into “2021”. There has been some debate about whether or not this is “recommended” by Google, but facts are facts.
Changing the Year in the Title – Good for SEO?
On a Reddit thread last year, John Mueller chipped in with a comment on a Reddit thread talking about changing content for the year-end. There seems to be an idea in the SEO community that what works plays second fiddle to what should work. Business owners like me are not ideological. If something gets results in a non-deceptive manner, then I’m going to use it regardless of whether it’s something “approved” by Google or not.
Lots of Searches Use the Year as Part of the Phrase
As a website owner, it’s my job to give my users what they want. And if users expect to see the year in the page title, and if that’s what makes them click a search result, then that’s what I’m going to give them! Like it or not, people search for stuff with the year in it. For example:
Best cars in [year]
Most expensive cities in [year]
Best [xyz] deals in [year]
According to Google, I should just ignore this glaring fact, and write evergreen content that doesn’t need to change the moment the second-hand ticks over into 2021. John Mueller seems to feel that you shouldn’t need to change the year. But then it only means that John Mueller has never had to rank a business website, whose income he depends upon for his livelihood.
Titles, Content, and Meta Descriptions
There are three major areas where you need to change the year for your website. The post titles, the actual content, and the meta descriptions. One thing to remember is that some plugins can change your information, and you must remember to update them as well. For example, the Yoast SEO plugin lets you craft your titles and meta descriptions. Don’t forget to include them in the search!
Changing Backlinks – Can be Impossible
Ideally, you’d also want to change any backlinks you’ve obtained from 3rd party sites that have the year number in the anchor text. However, this can be impossible since you don’t have direct control over the content linking to you. At the most, you can hope for the publishers of the linking site to do their due diligence and change the year manually, or you can ask them to do so. But that will take a lot of time, and they might never get around to it.
So don’t count on that!
Make the Changes Manually – Don’t Automate
You might be tempted to use a tool like Better Search Replace for WordPress and make the changes wholesale. Avoid this temptation. While it might be convenient, it’s too blunt a tool. There are plenty of things you don’t want to change. URL slugs are one example. It might be unfortunate that a well-performing URL accidentally has a year number in the slug, but what’s done is done. You don’t want modifications. An automated solution might also change other things like timestamps, or genuine mentions of dates in your articles. It might be a pain to do so manually, but it’s worth it. Don’t take shortcuts!
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!