Gaming Google?

I use Google to search the Internet. But I’ve noticed it sometimes
displays unexpected results when it comes to what look to be
time stamps. While I’m sure this isn’t a new phenomenon,
let’s take a look at an example of what I mean.

I did a search on the following terms: “iTunes Linux”,
hoping to find what the latest word is on the subject. The
first link that came up is

“iTunes DRM cracked wide open for
GNU/Linux. Seriously | [snip name deleted to protect the
guilty.]

The user key is system independent and can thus be used by
the GNU/Linux version of VLC,” he explains. While Apple’s
iTunes Music Store is restricted to …

http://www.name.deleted.com/2004/01/05/itunes_drm_cracked_wide_open/
– 28k –
Apr 11, 2006
– Cached – Similar pages

Notice the part I put in bold. It’s today’s date. I don’t
know where that comes from. Does it come from the page
itself (because of parts of the page that do update, while the story itself, does not)? Does Google add it in? I
don’t know.

What I do know is that it gives the impression that this
is breaking news that occurred today or, at least, recently.
But if you look at the directory that the story is in you can
see that it was actually published way back in 2004! In fact,
going to the page confirms the date.

Of the 10 results displayed on the first page of the
Google search, three (including the example above) have a
date appended at the end of the URL. Each of those dates is
today’s date. But if you actually go to each of those links,
the second example was also published in 2004 and the third
in 2003!

In fact, even if I do a Google advanced search, where you
can limit the results by the number of months since the
posting, and I set the date parameter to no more than three
months old, I still get these same three links!

Hmmm. I don’t know if these sites are trying to game the
Google results by somehow making it appear that their posts
were released today when, in fact, they were posted years
ago or if it is simply a by-product of a page design in which parts of it are updated but the main post is not.. But, it sure gives a false impression, on purpose or not.

I’ve contacted Google’s support center and am asking them
why I get the results I do. If I ever get a reply, I will
report what they say. YMMV. Insert Disclaimer here.

Advertisements

One response to “Gaming Google?

  1. What I wonder at is why Google puts dates at some but not all its results.