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Six Weird & Wacky Search Results Issues at Google
Posted by randfish
If you search enough at Google, you're bound to end up with some strange results, but as search marketers, we're often able to take a closer look and understand why something is ranking or appearing where it is. However... even I was stumped, surprised, or just tickled to see some of the results below:
Search for "craft test dummies" and Jenny Rohrs' crafting site shows up with - Hey! Are those ASCII stars? Guess what the next trend in meta descriptions is about to become (although Google has said many times that they won't use them in the results - maybe they just forgot about Jenny, or, better yet, decided she really deserves those stars).
If you've been feeling like you've seen it all, you might have a search query like "jaded." Apparently, to help cure the fatigue of the world you're growing to despise, Google offers a solution - you probably aren't jaded, you just want a dictionary! Seriously - read that and you'll snap right out of it. I know when I'm hanging out with my disillusioned Seattle post-grunge buddies, I always keep Webster's nearby just in case.
The above search for the word "body" was performed with safe search turned on, and trust me, you're very glad I put that black box where I did. Seriously, how often do you have to put a NSFW label next to a safe search result at Google?
How about a little self-referential results issues? In the query for SEO, everyone else who uses "Search Engine Optimization" in the title tag gets it bolded (as SEO is an acronym), but not SEOmoz... Why? I can't puzzle it out and a friend has the same issue with another acronym/expansion in the SERPs (though they'd prefer not to share, sadly). We thought it had something to do with the hyphens and pipe bar, but testing hasn't born out that hypothesis, either.
The kids over at URI were thrilled when they got sitelinks on the URI query, only to discover that Google has managed to break their usual CSS on the financial data AND add the rare "refine results" section atop the query, pushing them down to position-7-like screen real estate. Those poor URIers can't catch a break, but at least they're trying hard with the exclamatory title. :-)
As if the local results weren't bad enough (they don't show up for any other city's papers - Seattle Times, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, etc - what gives?), the New Times is, apparently, "hardcore," though I can find no reference to that in their title tag, their DMOZ listing, or any overuse of anchor text. How did that get there?
And - one more in case you didn't notice - the "tip: Save time by hitting the return key..." at the top of every SERP is a friendly reminder, but using Opera, it shows up every time, even when you do hit "return," causing me to shout - "But I did!! I did, dammit!"
Any favorite weird results in search queries you'd like to share?