There is a bug affecting Google’s search results pages causing the wrong publish date to be shown for certain types of posts. After digging further, it has been found that the bug is being caused by embedded YouTube videos.
If there is YouTube video embedded on one of your web pages, Google will now show searchers the date the video was published rather than the date the web page was published.
Displayed Publish Date: October 24
Here is an example using one of our own pieces of content. If you look at the screenshot below, you can see Google is displaying the publish date as October 24.
However, that’s not the date the article was published. The article contains a YouTube video featuring an interview with Google’s Gary Illyes that was uploaded on October 24. The article itself was not published on SEJ until November 4.
Actual Publish Date: November 4
Google Has to Act Soon
Coincidentally, Gary Illyes is also the person to speak to about these kinds of problems. He has been made aware of the bug, to which he replied, “I’ll let them people know about it”.
@jenstar thanks for the ping! I'll let them people know about it
— Gary Illyes (@methode) November 13, 2016
According to reports, websites affected by this bug are seeing traffic dips and ranking drops. In one reported case, a site owner’s home page began displaying the wrong publish date in the SERPs. The home page contained a YouTube video uploaded in 2012, making it look like the site hadn’t been updated in 4 years. That’s not appealing to a searcher looking for a website with current information.
Considering the fact that both Google’s algorithms, and real people, prefer fresh content it’s easy to understand the detrimental effect this could be having on affected web pages.
Despite the reported damage being done, Google has yet to further comment on this issue or give a timeframe as to when it will be fixed.
Until there is confirmation of Google fixing this bug, the only way to be sure you’re not affected is to not embed YouTube videos in web pages.