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My CMS Failed Me

Yes Jim, Bicycles can fly

1:29 am on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I received an email from one of my visitors asking a really strange and funny question. I liked it so much that I thought my visitors would like it also. So I made a poll and came up with four crazy answers sort of like this.


My friend has a bicycle. He swears that he was able to achieve flight after pedaling really, really hard and achieving 120 mph. Is he pulling my leg?

Poll Questions:

1.Yes Jim, he did take flight on that bicycle.
2.Your friend is telling tall tales.
3.Bicycles take flight at 121 mph.
4.Bicycles can’t fly.

The original question was much funnier. The poll got lots of votes and the winning vote was similar to number one, above. I was just having a little fun.

Well with the CMS (Joomla) I use there are about 30 pages (of about 600) on my site that I am having trouble putting meta descriptions on. It has something to do with the components I use and truthfully I have not spent too much time worrying about it because Google tends to grab the first content it sees and uses that in its listings.

Guess what? Since the poll was put on the left hand side it was the first content Google saw and now the description for those thirty pages look like:

Yes Jim, he did take flight on that bicycle…Your friend is telling tall tales…Bicycles take flight at 121 mph…Bicycles can’t fly.

That has nothing to do with the content of the page.

Lessons learned:
1.Fix Meta Descriptions.
2.Be careful with the first content Google sees on a page.

I just wanted to pass this alone and maybe it will help someone avoid some crazy descriptions in Google.

I wonder if this will affect the ranking of those pages?

2:34 am on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The Google snippets are probably only like that because you did a site: search, when a real search is performed and one of the 30 pages pops up it will probably have a snippet that is relevant to the search query.

No need to worry too much, but as you point out it can be important to consider what Google sees first (especially when the title of a page is likely to contain all of the search terms - such as a search for your brand/site name).

12:42 am on Nov 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Maybe you could put some ads for bicycles on those pages? ;)

Great story though.

8:51 am on Nov 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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If you are using CSS, you can easily fix this.

Put the poll in a division at the physical end of the file.

Use CSS positioning to put it where you want it to actually appear.

Google (at least for now) ignores the CSS, and will read the file in physical order.

Normally, though, it is best to be careful to put divisions in the same physical order as you want them read by users. This will help insure that the page makes sense to those who use screen readers, those stubborn text-only Lynx users, etc.