Keeping Your Website’s Copyright Notice up-to-date

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I am often amazed at how some websites don’t manage to update the copyright notice at the bottom of the page to the current year. As I write this, I have hundreds of pages that have a copyright notice and in about 12 hours from now (since today is December 31st), they will automatically update to the year 2013 without me having to do anything. I noticed that when a new year arrives that for several months many websites will have the latest copyright date set to last year, and in some cases, they can be years out of date. When I see that, it makes me feel that someone is asleep at the switch.

Google uses more than 200 ‘signals’ to measure the influence of a page, and it would surprise me if they didn’t include the latest date in a copyright notice as something that might be of interest. Fresh content is king, and stale content is like two-day old bread and that’s why the bots never stop crawling your content. But to see a copyright that is years out of date on content that has obviously been updated today, well, it makes the site owner look like he’s just not paying attention to the details.

So, how does my copyright update without my intervention? Well all of my pages are sent through a PHP parser, and my copyright notice has this little snippet of PHP code:

Copyright &copy; 2001-<?php echo date(Y); ?> Lee Devlin

When it’s run through the PHP parser and rendered on a browser, it translates to:

Copyright © 2001-2017 Lee Devlin

I have that code in all my footers, both on my WordPress and static pages, and it updates the second date every year, without me having to think about it.

If you want to edit your footer, WP themes generally keep the code in a file called footer.php in the wp-content folder. Feel free to copy that code into your footer, you have my permission. Just remember to change it to your name ;-).