Did you know that one small, easy-to-miss blog setting in WordPress has the power to virtually kill any and all search engine optimization efforts of all of your blog posts? That’s right, those carefully crafted title tags and keyword-filled meta descriptions can be rendered useless if you forget to check one thing: time.
If your WordPress account is defaulted to the wrong timezone, your fresh content might lose its crispness. For example, if you publish a blog at 10 a.m. CST but your account is set to PST, Google will see it has being published “2 hours ago.” Even worse, if your account is set to an obscure timezone like UTC-12, Google will think the blog was published “one day ago.” Google uses the date you set on your WordPress blog, not the date and time it actually went live, to determine when exactly a blog post was published. And Google uses that date in the actual search result listing for your blog post–as well as part of the “freshness” part of the search engine algorithm.
Here is an example of the date being used in the search results:
If you look at the screen capture to the left, you’ll notice that Google shows “6 days ago,” “5 days ago” and “Mar 1, 2012″ in the search results. Those dates reflect the WordPress setting on the blog post(s) or pages themselves, not the date and time Google discovered the URL.
If you have your time zone set incorrectly, your blog post won’t show up toward the top of the search results if someone searches for a keyword phrase and sorts the search results by the “past hour” or sorted “by date.”
But, what may be more important, is that your new blog post may not receive as much of an “SEO boost” from any of the additional links, social bookmarks or social “sharing” that occur quickly after a blog post is published. It has been my observation that if a blog post is posted and it receives new links, social bookmarks, and social “shares” within a certain period of time, the blog post URL starts to gain traction and will ultimately rank better than if it is not promoted. Blog posts, even if they are promoted right after being published, will not benefit from the extra promotion if the Time Zone setting is not correct in WordPress because Google will think it’s old content.
This realization definitely make us curious about Google’s ranking methods. Why is Google relying on the date that we set on our own blog? Shouldn’t Google be relying on the date of when they crawl our new blog post?
Until we figure that one out, we advice you to double check your timezone settings. To do so:
1. Log into WordPress (i.e., domain.com/wp-admin/)
2. On the left side, select “settings”
3. In the middle of the page, look for “Timezone”
4. Select the correct Timezone