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Weird Wikipedia snippet in Google SERP

Bill Mac [PersonRank 9]

Friday, February 8, 2008
14 years ago2,679 views

http://www.google.com/search?q=regex

[copy/paste]

Regular expression – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A Wikipedia articele on regular expressions with an informal discussion, a formal definition and examples.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regular_expression – 70k – Cached – Similar pages – Note this...

The glaring typo is not the only thing that caught my attention. It is fairly obvious that this snippet contains text that isn't on the target page. I think I remember seeing a Matt Cutts video and other discussions where this phenomenon (lacking a better term) was addressed, but I can't recall the specifics. (Gord knows it was probably this forum. :)

My question is this: hand-edited or not (and I could care less), how is this the most useful possible snippet to show in response to the query "regex"? Couldn't you swap almost any term into that very-very-very-non-specific snippet and have the same level of applicability/relevancy for any query for which there aren't dead-certain "right" answers?

I've seen a few Google-SERP-quality-going-down type posts here and there, and from personal experience, I tentatively agree. However, my personal experience may jive with those of the authors of these posts: I search for a fair bit of technical info, and maybe these topics by nature attract the efforts of more SEO spammers. (Spam what you know, I guess. Spam what sells.)

Out of curiosity, I'll ask random people if they notice quality decreasing. (You know, the type of people who pay more attention to watching grass grow than technology. Goog, contact me for this market research data at your own peril.) Most of them say No! immediately (publovegoog), but if I press them on it, maybe they'll concede some dissatisfaction before they grow bored and resume watching the grass. Usually not, though. Usually they don't notice. And that's where it usually ends, because allowing trivial matters to consume your life sort of prevents you from having one. However, this particularly shitty result has got me wasting 4 paragraphs on the matter. Grrgle!

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

The snippet is indeed a hand-edited one from the Open Directory Project:

http://search.dmoz.org/cgi-bin/search?search=articele

Webmasters can opt for Google not to use there snippets by adding special META tags to their pages:

http://sitemaps.blogspot.com/2006/07/more-control-over-page-snippets.html

Motti [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Matt Cutts did a video explaining where snippets come from a short while back:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=vS1Mw1Adrk0

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