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Why is Web Preview a Snippet and not an Archive?
incrediBILL




msg:4313849
 9:57 pm on May 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

I would like to address some of silliest idiocy Google has trotted out in years, which is classifying the instant preview feature as a "snippet".

The only way to stop the instant preview is to install "nosnippet" in the page, at which time you also lose the ability to have snippets below your titles in the SERPs.

[google.com...]

Duh?

Technically, instant preview is a visually cached copy and any site set to NOARCHIVE is currently being violated because it's making and displaying archives of the site. The same reasons you don't want people looking at your cache, such as correcting pricing mistakes, taking down content that violated copyright, whatever, the reason you don't want cache and snoops evaluating it still apply with instant preview.

Eliminating all snippets is idiotic just to eliminate instant preview.

Can't we get a new directive NOPREVIEW, come on Google, common sense time, instant preview and snippets are MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.

I weep for the future.

 

indyank




msg:4316122
 5:05 am on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Using noarchive doesn't necessarily mean that they don't have a cache of all our pages on their servers.It just means that they don't show a "cached" link to searchers.

Google wants everything stored on their servers. I am almost sure that every page of every site is stored on their servers even if you noindex them.

They don't even want their bots to be blocked by robots.txt and this is clear from what they said in recent times.They now ask you to deal with duplicate content in other ways.

lucy24




msg:4316136
 5:53 am on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

They don't even want their bots to be blocked by robots.txt

... which is itself indexed, along with your sitemap. They'd index your .htaccess file if they could get to it.

walkman




msg:4316143
 6:14 am on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

... which is itself indexed, along with your sitemap. They'd index your .htaccess file if they could get to it.

Yep, they want EVERYTHING, even your thin and bad pages, don't block them on robots they say, we'll handle the dupes, don't worry [youtube.com...] . Of course they'll ruin your business because of them when they decide to change the algo (Panda)

Brett_Tabke




msg:4316222
 12:21 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

> I do not understand where the risk can be.
> I clearly state that I block any user-agent that includes the term "Preview".

Anytime you block a legit Googlebot - you face consequences. Google would not want your site in serps if they can't have a preview of it. This is probably why they make it next-to-impossible to turn off.

indyank




msg:4316238
 1:05 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yes, that is very true.The preview is used by their more recent algorithms.

Samizdata




msg:4316308
 3:25 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Anytime you block a legit Googlebot - you face consequences.

Every time you restrict Google activity, a fairy dies.

Unfortunate phrasing, Brett - the whole point about the Google Web Preview bot is that it is not GoogleBot (which for PR purposes alone needs to maintain its reputation for honouring robots.txt instructions).

Google would not want your site in serps if they can't have a preview of it.

Google certainly does not want webmasters opting out of previews (hence the tactic of removing your text snippet if you follow their opt-out instructions).

But (so far, at least) they seem tolerate opting out by other means.

next-to-impossible to turn off

On one site I have been serving a 403 to the Google Web Preview bot for six months.

I do so because I consider making quasi-photographic images of every page on the site and using them to enhance a profitable advertising business is not fair use of my copyright.

The site in question consistently shows an empty (blank) preview and still has the customary text snippet. Ranking appears unaffected, as far as I can tell.

I appreciate that this could change on a Google-whim.

I also appreciate that most webmasters would not want to risk Google's petulance, and that many others happily accept visual previews as a fact of business life and would rather put their efforts into optimising how the previews look.

I think incrediBILL is right to highlight the NOSNIPPET issue, which might reasonably be described as coercive, bullying, or (in this context) "being evil". I would paraphrase Google's attitude thus:

"If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding".

And if you don't eat your previews, you can't have any snippets.

Unpleasant.

...

indyank




msg:4316314
 3:45 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

"Unpleasant" is a very soft term to describe it. It is good to know that the site serving 403 to Google Web Preview bot has been untouched so far, not even panda.

Yes google can lay down terms stating that you shouldn't show different content to users, googlebot and the web preview but can they lay down threatening terms, if a site owner blocks a bot that he doesn't want on his sites for whatever reason.It could either be a bandwidth issue or something else.

Blocking isn't the equivalent to showing different content. Today they are having a search bot, image bot and a preview bot.Tomorrow they may come up with many newer bots.But is one obliged to let all their bots hit the sites despite suffering bandwidth? If I don't want images in google image, I am going to block them and the same will hold true for the preview bot too. But if google is going to tie one thing to another, it is much worse than microsoft bundling a media player with Windows which EU doesn't want.

Samizdata




msg:4316339
 4:22 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

"Unpleasant" is a very soft term to describe it

"Unlawful" would be an inaccurate one, wouldn't it?

I am not a lawyer and would be happy to be corrected.

...

indyank




msg:4316370
 4:57 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Claiming it to be "Unlawful" wouldn't necessarily be wrong as fair play is in question and that is how any one would take the issue to court and it is up to them to give a verdict on it.

walkman




msg:4316375
 5:02 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

I do so because I consider making quasi-photographic images of every page on the site and using them to enhance a profitable advertising business is not fair use of my copyright.

Hehehehe....Tried before and only the press and popularity saved them.

We are unhappy with the way Google uses our users’ review on its Places page. However, there is no solution to the problem… Google’s position is that we can take ourselves out of its search index if we don’t want them to use our reviews on Places…. But that is not an option for us, and other sites like us – such as TripAdvisor – as we get a large volume of our traffic via Google search…We just don’t get any value out of our reviews appearing on Google places and haven’t been given an option other than to remove ourselves from search, how to improve this situation.

[telegraph.co.uk...]

So Bret is right.

indyank




msg:4316380
 5:09 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

walkman, Google is a monopoly in the search market and what they do is definitely anti-competitive.This was the primary reason for EU to force Microsoft from removing media player in windows editions sold in EU.

I feel it is just that they aren't challenged yet.

[edited by: indyank at 5:23 pm (utc) on May 23, 2011]

walkman




msg:4316387
 5:20 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

@indyank
the point was to show how decisions are made in a heartbeat or algo-milisecond and in a very arrogant way. Google can send your site to page 80 and not even care to tell you why. Was it something you did, that title change, new table you added...or the blocking of preview? Care to take that chance?

And by the time Google is challenged we'll be working somewhere else or living in a car. They now have that power

Samizdata




msg:4316394
 5:22 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hehehehe... Tried before

What I am doing on that site entirely achieves its objective with no adverse consequences.

I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, and I should stress that the site is not monetised.

Webmasters who think that having a blank preview in the SERPs will affect the click-through rate and harm their bottom line certainly wouldn't do it.

And Google knows it.

...

lucy24




msg:4316676
 3:03 am on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Webmasters who think that having a blank preview in the SERPs will affect the click-through rate and harm their bottom line certainly wouldn't do it.

It isn't blank. You get a preview-shaped white box that says "No preview available". So the question is how your ordinary human would react to this: "Well, screw 'em, I can't be bothered" vs. "Oh well, I'll just go ahead and click then."

I'm kinda inclined to think that the hypothetical ordinary human would assume that google just hadn't got around to making the preview-- or that they couldn't do it for some arcane, boring technical reason-- or that there was some random inexplicable rule governing which sites got preview. Not that the site itself had said Nuh-uh, keep your nasty previewbot offa my land.

Samizdata




msg:4316819
 11:54 am on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

It isn't blank. You get a preview-shaped white box that says "No preview available"

As stated above, my site's previews show a blank (white) space with nothing in it.

the question is how your ordinary human would react to this

My question would be "what percentage of searchers even look at Google's previews?".

I haven't seen any official figures, but it seems to be a minority interest.

the site itself had said Nuh-uh, keep your nasty previewbot offa my land.

My site is actually saying "I wish to opt out of previews while retaining text snippets".

Which, of course, is what this thread is about.

...

lucy24




msg:4317059
 7:39 pm on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

My site is actually saying "I wish to opt out of previews while retaining text snippets".

I did a flat
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} Google\ Web\ Preview
RewriteRule silence/nagvaarniq/ - [F,L]

The pages themselves show up in search results (I did some internal rearranging recently, so they will eventually disappear) but you get "No Preview Available". Anyone see any dangers with this?

Samizdata




msg:4317107
 9:33 pm on May 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Anyone see any dangers with this?

Brett would correctly remind us that with Google there is always potential danger.

Six months ago I put in a similar .htaccess rewrite for Google Web Preview on one of my sites so that I could control my visual preview in the SERPs. It worked very well.

Following the clarification via the Instant Previews FAQ that this technique "may cause your site to be perceived as deceptive and removed from the Google index" I abandoned plans to implement the procedure across all my sites.

If it is the case that you are serving Google Web Preview different content to what GoogleBot sees, that would be what Mountain View calls "deceptive cloaking" and which is explicitly not allowed (by them): [sites.google.com...]

You must show Googlebot and the Google Web Preview the same content that users from that region would see (see our Help Center article on cloaking).

Interestingly, both the article on cloaking and Google's Webmaster Guidelines use a different form of words, stating clearly that cloaking involves serving different content.

Serving Google Web Preview a different response (e.g. 403) is not cloaking.

YMMV

...

Samizdata




msg:4317247
 1:57 am on May 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

For anyone still confused, the command

"You must not show different content" (Webmaster Guidelines and cloaking article)

is not the same as the command

"You must show the same content" (Instant Previews FAQ)

as the latter omits the possibility of "no content" being shown.

I have always suspected that the Instant Previews FAQ answer on this issue (see earlier post) was written in a hurry a few days after the launch - and not necessarily by a PhD.

The idea that I "must" treat the Google Web Preview user-agent (which ignores robots.txt) the same as GoogleBot (which is compliant) is nonsense on stilts, and denying server access to a user-agent is not cloaking.

I have not sought clarification from Google about it, but in my experience corporations almost never admit to making mistakes, and in this case the Mountain View PhDs would probably find it quicker and easier to change a line of code and penalise some troublemaking webmaster for killing one of their fairies.

"If you don't eat your previews, you can't have any snippets...

How can you have any snippets if you don't eat your previews?"


...

graeme_p




msg:4317772
 5:59 am on May 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I agree in principle that noarchive should mean no preview.

MSN's extended snippet preview feature is more of a problem for me. I do not think their solution (adding an extra meta tag) is the satisfactory - I do not want search engine specific tags to proliferate. We need standards for this.

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