WordPress 6.5 gains lastmod date for sitemaps files

WordPress version 6.5 now supports including the lastmod element within sitemaps files, which can help search engines understand which pieces of content are new or updated. This can help improve crawl efficiency for search engine crawlers and reduce server load on your website.

Lastmod. Lastmod is an element that you can add to your sitemap file that should represent the last time that URL was modified. Search engines do look at that date when processing your sitemap files for crawling purposes. In fact, Bing said last year it would rely more on the lastmod date for crawling purposes.

Gary Illyes from Google posted this news on LinkedIn saying, “The lastmod element in sitemaps is a signal that can help crawlers figure out how often to crawl your pages.”

He added:

“If you’re on WordPress, since version 6.5, you have this field natively populated for you thanks to Pascal Birchler and the WordPress developer community. If you’re holding back on upgrading your WordPress installation, please bite the bullet and just do it (maybe once there are no plugin conflicts). Don’t be like Gary and still run a version 2*. If you’re not on WordPress, try to populate it with the last significant modification date, where “significant” loosely means a change that might matter to your users and, by proxy, to your site.”

Fabrice Canel from Bing commented on that post, saying:

“A big shoutout to Pascal Birchler, Gary Illyes, Google, and the WordPress developer community for their fantastic contribution to WordPress version 6.5. The integration of the lastmod signal within sitemaps is a game-changer, offering for millions of web sites, great data insight about when their content is changing allowing to optimize crawling activities and ensuring content freshness in search engines.

For anyone reluctant to update their WordPress installation, consider this feature a prime motivator. The more websites implement lastmod in their sitemaps, the search engines — whether AI-driven or rules-based — will increasingly capitalize on this signal.

Complimentary, please adopt https://www.indexnow.org/ to take control of crawl and your SEO game with real-time indexing. The right setup is IndexNow (for real-time update) and sitemaps with lastmod (daily – catchup mode) to ensure comprehensive and fresh coverage.

Having better online visibility isn’t just about having a website. It’s about your latest content being found.”

Upgrade. Currently, about 21% of WordPress installs are using version 6.5, so it might make sense to double check to see if you are on that version if you want to improve crawl efficiency.

If you are not on WordPress, you can ask your developers how to get accurate lastmod dates in your sitemap files.

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Barry Schwartz

Barry Schwartz is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry can be followed on Twitter here.