Msg#: 4451395 posted 4:45 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)
The last couple of weeks, I have been noticing lately that I am clicking on results to sites that don't exist. I am not talking about sites that go to ad pages, domain parking, etc. I mean the kind that just timeout or act like a website isn't there at all. Google is usually pretty good at removing these so what happened?
The old title and description are there, sometimes even a business address below it. Like a search result from the past. No cache or preview of it.
Digging further, I started looking at sites I linked out to from a directory site of mine. I found some that I removed months ago. Some are places out of business. A few have been renamed and have new websites. The old ones are ranking again and even ahead of the new ones in some cases. I found one that I had linked to and removed as dead over a year ago. It is at the top of a search result for the business name and again goes to nothing.
Not a good user experience.
It's like a time capsule with some old crawl got dumped back into the mix. This also makes me think of a possibly connected problem I've seen in WMT for a while. They are listing some 404s on my site, as just being discovered/crawled and they are pages that have been long gone for up to 5 years years. Nothing linking to them at all. Magically reappearing on showing as errors. I don't know if this is connected or not but they both seem to be digging up the past.
Msg#: 4451395 posted 5:15 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)
Strange you should say that right now, but a new 404 appeared in WMT last week: for the 2004 product catalogue that was on the site Nov 2003 to Jan 2005 or thereabouts. Lists a dozen backlinks for it too, most of which haven't existed for 5 or 6 years or more (didn't check the last two listed sites as they are spammy sites I would never visit).
Msg#: 4451395 posted 5:32 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)
haan! Google never forgets and gets itself confused with all those unforgotten data...Guess we can see more of this as their DB grows in size. I have experienced something similar to what g1smd says for the past 1.5 years now but not what the OP has stated, an entire non-existing site!
Msg#: 4451395 posted 6:59 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)
Digging further, I started looking at sites I linked out to from a directory site of mine. I found some that I removed months ago. Some are places out of business. A few have been renamed and have new websites.
I continue to observe that whenever Google surfaces anything, it's very likely that they are testing against it in some way.
Just thinking out loud here... could it be that not everyone has been as good as you have been about removing dead links, and that many links are broken or aren't redirected properly? Perhaps in some cases, redirected sites are spam. Perhaps Google is developing procedures to help purge things more quickly if they should be purged, perhaps to locate the new resources otherwise... or to reassess both backlinks and their own indexing procedures.
In an AI environment, the resurfaced site references might be a kind of a control group... perhaps just a way of obtaining additional user data as triangulation points.
It's like a time capsule with some old crawl got dumped back into the mix.
What you're describing reminds me of something else we discussed here about a year ago, but in some ways never resolved. The phenomenon had the same museum-like quality to it....