With millions of blogs posted every single month, it’s important to know how to check when a website was last updated.
For starters, it gives you a great idea of whether or not you can rank for a chosen keyword. If the article is outdated, there’s a good chance you can provide more relevant information that will boost you higher in the syrups.
As a consumer, it’s also important to know if the information you’re reading is relevant.
This particularly applies to niches that have to do with science and technology. If you’re reading an article about the “latest” health breakthrough, but the article is a decade old, how reliable is that information?
Needless to say, knowing how to check when the website was last updated can be a valuable tool as you use the Internet — personally and professionally.
Three Dates You Need to Know
Generally speaking, there are only three dates that matter to answer this particular question.
This date is the first time this piece of content was published on the web.
Last Modified Date
If the writer has changed the article, the modified date will show when that change occurred.
It doesn’t even have to be a substantial change. Content, images, metadata, and any modification should trigger a notice to tell you when the website was last updated.
An indexed date reveals when Google’s search engine crawler last indexed the page to appear in search results.
Which Date is Most Important?
All three of these dates have their own use cases.
For instance, if a blog has never been indexed by Google, there’s usually some kind of technical reason as to why. That could be because of a robots.txt file or a non-index rule that exists. Both of these would require further investigation as to why.
The updated date can also pose a red flag as well. Suppose you see the original date and notice that the article is quite old, but the updated date is relatively recent. In that case, you may think twice before trying to outrank that blog, especially if it’s on a high-ranking website.
How to Check When a Website Was Last Updated
You may think that these three dates would be hidden by either the website or Google, but it’s surprisingly easy to figure out. All you need is either a couple of tools or a few minutes of manual labor.
Use Internet Archive
If you’ve never used the Internet Wayback Machine, you’re in for a treat.
This nonprofit organization has created periodic snapshots of web pages over the last 20+ years. It’s a lot of fun to look at now-popular websites and see what they looked like right when the internet took off. Some snapshots are less flattering than others.
The main problem with using the Internet Wayback machine to determine any of the three dates listed above is that it’s inaccurate. The Internet Archive only collects snapshots when the Wayback Machine decides to crawl the page.
For some websites, that could be weeks. For others, it could be months.
Still, it’s worth poking around to see if you can tell at a glance what the last updated date seems to be.
Check the SERPs in Google Search
Sometimes, the information appears readily on the search results page. If you’re lucky, the most recently published or updated date will simply appear right inside the meta tag.
Most of the time though, you have to use a Google search operator to make this number appear.
Head to the Google search bar and type “inurl:domainname.com/page-url/” into the search bar.
This will bring up a SERPs page with only the specific web page URL that you’re interested in showing up.
Head up to the URL and type in “&as_qdr=y15” at the very end of the address bar. Hit enter and the date will now appear before the meta description of the listing.
The date you’re looking at is the date of the last time that Google indexed this web page, That can be either when it was first published or its last updated date.
Inspect the Google Cache
There are a few ways to use Google Cache to determine the last date a blog was indexed.
The first is by using a Google Cache Checker, like this one available online. You can put in any amount of links you want (up to 20), and you’ll see the dates that those links were last cached by Google.
The second is a little more labor-intensive but comes straight from the source.
Type in the keyword that you know your article ranks for, and click the three dots next to the appropriate result in the SERPs.
This will include a “More Options” page next to the results. Click the down arrow and look for the button that says “Cached.”
This will bring up the version of the web page that was last cached by Google. At the top, you’ll see the last Google cached date.
Just so you’re aware, Google itself says that the current page may look different than the one they have indexed.
Inspect the XML Sitemap
If you don’t mind scrolling a little bit, you can also use the sitemap of a particular site to figure out a web page’s last updated date.
Type domain.com/site map.XML into the address bar of your search engine. If that is, in fact the correct site map (and most of the time it is) sees, you’ll see the full site map appear on your screen.
Scroll down until you find the exact web page that you’re looking for. To the right of it, you’ll see the last modified date.
View the Page Source
Those who are particularly handy may be able to find this information through the page source.
Simply go to the web page that your wanting information on, right-click, and select “View Page Source.”
This will bring up an HTML page with a ton of useful information.
If you don’t feel like scrolling to find the information the hard way, press “command + F” and look for the words “Last Modified Date” or “Published Date.” It should bring up the time when both of those events took place.
Analyze the Web Pages for Clues
It’s time to put on your detective’s hat because this method requires a little digging.
Although not foolproof, you should be able to get a pretty good gauge of the article’s last updated date by looking at the information on the web page itself.
For instance, what reference does the web page make that seems relevant to the writing at the time? Do they mention specific events as “recent”?
More specifically, what events does it mention as happening in the “last month” or the “last year”? Another dead giveaway is if the page says that something is new “as of today.”
Using that information, you should have a pretty good guess as to when it was published.
If none of that exists on the web page, check the comments section to see when the comments originated.
One last-ditch method is by trying to determine the source date of images or graphics on the web page. Some content management systems may have this data embedded within the file.
Ask the Owner of the Web Page
It never hurts to ask, does it?
If you’re truly desperate, and none of the above methods work (for whatever reason), you can always try just asking the site owner.
Website owners in the same niches may be reluctant to answer this information for obvious reasons. In addition, it can be nearly impossible to find the contact information for the webmaster.
And when you do, they may not even remember when the web page was published, or their memory may be spotty at best.
You can’t really rely on the website owner going to the trouble of figuring this information out for you, especially if it doesn’t serve their purposes. If you have a reason that benefits both of you as to why you want this information, be sure to state that in the email.
Have You Found Another Way to Check When a Website Was Last Updated?
All of the above methods should work (in theory), but you’ll find varying degrees of success with each one. It’s best to test a few methods and see which works for you.
And if you find a new way how to check when a website was last updated, feel free to drop us a line! We’re always looking to add to a list like this if you find something we think can help others.