I just recently started my second blog that runs on Blogger custom domain. As usual, I went through the whole basic SEO checklist which mostly included adding it to Google Search Console, submitting its sitemap, setting the preferred domain and so on and so forth.
With this done, I focused on the most important thing – writing compelling content. Two weeks later Google has started indexing the site and its here I noticed a most peculiar thing.
One of the indexed posts (actually the only one at the time if I was to disregard the static pages) had a date snippet with a future date.
As you can see from the above search result screenshot, Google is showing that the post was published on August 6, 2018. Google is therefore ahead by about 2 months here seeing this post right here that you’re reading got published on June 19, 2018.
A Post Back from the Future?
So how exactly did this come to happen? Well that’s the same question I pondered on for a few day before realizing what exactly was happening here. And no, I’m not a time traveller from the future that happened to lose his memory.
Well you see, the exact date of publication for the post in question was on June 8, 2018. On the other hand, the Google bots were seeing August 6, 2018. Do you see a pattern there? Probably not.
How about when I change the date format into this (heads up, I learnt the Queen’s English so in my world the date always comes first before the month):
8/06/2018 (actual publication date), 6/08/2018 (the indexed date snippet)
I’m guessing you can now see clearly what exactly was going here. For some reason Google was seeing the day of publication as the month and the month as the date. Noticing this I decided to check the HTML source of the post just to confirm my guess.
As I had expected the publication date inside the code was June 8, 2018 just as the post page was showing. Strange indeed. Still, I wasn’t yet ready to lay the blame on Google despite my online digging pointing to that direction. I was somehow more than convinced that it was either me or Blogger that was to blame.
After some pondering, the only thing I could come up as the cause was that Google was perhaps interpreting my date in the US format [MM/DD/YYYY] instead of the British format that I thought I was using [DD/MM/YYYY].
To confirm this, I went to my Blog post settings and, lo and behold, this is what I found there:
As you can tell I had clearly brought all this on myself though how exactly remains a big mystery. The timestamp at the start of the post was using the format DD/MM/YYYY while the timestamp at the end of the post was using MM/DD/YYYY.
I suppose midst this confusion, the google bots decided to remain loyal to their American masters.
With that said, it’s rather amusing that Google would just allow a future date to display on its results even if the webmaster is to blame here. If only their algorithm would notice such discrepancies and report them on Search Console.
Still, I can only imagine how many other countless sites out there have misconfigured their date formats and their owners have no idea about it. I’m really grateful I was able to sniff this one out quite early, otherwise it’s very likely that it would’ve taken me at least a few months to actually notice it.
Meanwhile, I’ve since corrected the date formats to match however Google is still at the moment displaying the future date it indexed.