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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 about how the WebmasterWorld owner made some changes. Today, issues with clicking through to WebmasterWorld results persist, in manners not quite like in 2006 (just today I experienced it while researching some JavaScript task). Because different people see different things, I’ve asked in the forum what you’re seeing, and here’s some of the results:

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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