Houston, we have a winner in the search engine race

The race is in its final stretch now, with Google coming in the winner sometime over night, NZ time.  The new content of a few of the pages is up there, and searchable.

ref: The search engine race, Content vs Presentation

Google wins

Google wins the indexing race

Not only that but if I cherry pick some phrases from my blog posting from last night I’m hit number one and two which re-enforces some of the basic precincts of search engine optimisation.  What’s also interesting is that the content snippet that Google presents under the title is different for a given page depending on what you searched for.

Hmmm, SEO theory #321 out the door.  The meta description is not always used by google to present your results.

See the screenshots below.

SERP

SERP 1 – Google

Serp

SERP 2 – Google

The screenshot on the left shows the search results for ‘google lips tightly sealed non-disclosure’. Top hit is trash.co.nz/blog.html with an extract from the blog posting from yesterday that had that text in it.  The second hit is a shortened version of the link I posted to Twitter, going to the actual blog posting.

The second hit is a direct one to the blog posting via my link-shrinker.  This hit shows the description meta-tag verbatim as common wisdom would suggest.  The link was posted to Twitter about 10 minutes after I posted that blog entry last night, so it got spidered, indexed and searchable in under 12 hours which tells us that Google definitely plays favourites.

So, come on down screenshot number two.   Searching for ‘trash.co.nz blog’ gives me the two top hits again, but this time it’s given the meta description tags for both hits, even though the first one is the same as the first in screenshot two.  Hit number three is my twittered link again.  Nice.

The other interesting thing about this is the dates that appear at the left of the descriptions.  They are not in the meta tags, but boy-o-boy do they improve the effectiveness of the results presentation in Google.
Note that the date shown for http://trash.co.nz/blog.html is different for the two result sets.

I’m picking they came verbatim from the xml sitemap in the case of screenshot number 2, and in the case of screenshot number 1 google has done something clever and used the change date for the target of the link in the content.

Takeaways for today:

  • If you don’t already have a valid xml sitemap, what on earth are you doing reading this?  Get to it!
  • Meta description tags are all very well, but if your content is tag-soup you may still get crap results presentation.  Valid, clean HTML gave me two sets of clean results.
  • Googlebot plays favourites with twittered links, one would assume due to link popularity rules/formula that are secret squirrel stuff at Google HQ.
  • It takes about 84 hours for google to spider, index and summarise new content.

In the next couple of days it’s going to be interesting to see how long the old home-page text persists in Google’s cache, and what we get as results from bing and yahoo as they bring up the rear.

Adding onto that it’s going to be interesting to see what the refresh period for changes to the site is going to be now that the new sitemap is being used by google.  Let the SEO games begin!

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