Every new year the annual ritual of updating the copyright dates on web sites commences.
This is the little, often overlooked, text snippit in the footer of most web sites that says something to the effect of “”Copyright 2014 Some Company. All rights reserved.”
There are several good reasons for keeping the year current on your web site.
- Audience. First and foremost consider the impression your visitors will make of your web site when they notice that your copyright date is set to 2007. Does that mean you have not updated your site in 5 years? It can be enough to cause the visitor to click the back button and head to the next site.
- Search Engines. While it is unclear whether search engines use copyright date as a factor when ranking the page, it probably does have an impact on the quality score. An old copyright notice date indicates that the site is not maintained and therefore suggests the information may also be out of date and unreliable. Google is big on the quality of the page and a very old date most likely has negative effect on your search rankings.
- Legal. Obvious I know, but the copyright notice is a legal statement and not just window dressing for the site. The content you produce is unique and should not be in the public domain unless you expressly want to make it available. If your notice states your material was copyrighted in 2009 is everything you produced since fair game? I recommend using a date spread for your copyright notice. State the year your site was launched up to the present year (eg. copyright © 2009 – 2012). This covers all content produced in this time and also demonstrates longevity of the site for your audience.
How to update the copyright notice
- HTML: you’ll need to update your code. It is typically hiding in the footer area of your page. In your preferred html editor, do a search for the previous year to track it down. Or check out the exact copyright notice as it appears on your site now. Then using your editor do a site wide search and replace. Warning: don’t do a blanket search and replace for the year only (“2013” replaced by “2014” for example). This could wipe out any date specific content on your site. Use a specific search like “Copyright © 2013 Newgate” and replace with “Copyright © 2014 Newgate”.
- WordPress: the copyright can be tucked away in a few places in WordPress but here are the likely suspects:
- As a widget if your theme has footer widget areas. Edit in the WordPress Admin area under Appearance > Widgets.
- As a theme option of your theme is supports it. Edit in the WordPress Admin area under your theme settings.
- in the footer.php of your theme. Edit with a text/HTML editor.
- Dot Net Nuke: In the Admin > Site Settings menu.
Automating your copyright year update
I use a few different scripts including this a great little snippet created by Gloucester Web Design:
<p>Copyright © 2006
var d=new Date();
document.write(" - "+yr);
Company Name. All rights reserved.</p>
Enter the year the web site was launched on line 1 and 5. If the site was launched in the current year the code will produce:
- Copyright © 2014 Company Name. All rights reserved.
If the current year is later than the launch year then it will produce:
- Copyright © 2006 – 2014 Company Name. All rights reserved.
Happy New Year and may all thy copyright notices remain current.