Tuesday, November 11, 2008
WebmasterWorld Not Always Showing Content to Google Searchers
Two years ago, the WebmasterWorld forums didn’t always show the same page when you clicked through to them via Google. Matt Cutts was aware of it and then posted
- what I’m seeing is this: when I search for something and stumble upon a WebmasterWorld result, I can click through to it via Google (if I didn’t visit WebmasterWorld recently). However, all subsequent clicks on WebmasterWorld results when coming from Google will show a registration box instead of the actual content that was shown in the snippet... at least that’s what happens for some time (minutes? hours? I don’t know).
- Tony Ruscoe says “I got the second click free but the third one displayed a registration box ... Furthermore, every other result I clicked after that also displayed a registration box.”
- Garett Rogers says “I see the same thing as Tony – the first and second clicks are free, then the third shows a registration box ... If i visit one of the first two links that were previously ’free’, they now greet me with the same registration box.”
- Ludwik Trammer writes “I can click as much as I want (I try clicking three or four links) from Google results and it works BUT when I follow a link to another thread on a site directly (not via Google) I get the registration box, and after that links in Google stop working (I got registration page when I try to click on links to other threads in Google)”
What are you seeing when you click on the first couple of hits in searches like these?
But wait, didn’t Google now allow this behavior with their “First Click Free” (for Google users) policy? No – as Google’s John Mueller clarifies in a discussion on “First Click Free”, “When a user comes in from Google, he should be able to see the full content, always, every time he comes in from any search on any Google site ... Again, if a user comes in from Google multiple times a day, he should be able to see the full content of the article (as it is crawled and indexed by Googlebot) every time he comes in from Google. It is not limited to the first time that the user comes in from Google.”
In all this, I’m less interested in what WebmasterWorld does – different sites are free to use different strategies, and WebmasterWorld might have great content and be register- and pay-worthy... and you might want to give them a try if you didn’t already. However, I am interested in how Google fares in applying their self-proclaimed policies. Back in 2007 Google’s Matt Cutts said “I won’t consider this issue closed until I have the time to investigate how consistently the return-the-same-content-as-Googlebot-saw behavior happens; it should happen for every click from a Google search result.”
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