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A Google search on keyword1 keyword2 produces in the top position a listing that looks normal except that the bottom line is:
www.word1-word2-word3-word4.co.uk/ keyword1-keyword2.shtml - 9k -Cached - Similar pages
There is a space between '..../' and 'keyword1....' so that if you copy and paste the URL into the address box of a browser it wont work.
By randomly delivering 'broken' urls to the browser, they can effectively 'thwart' position checking software that may have things 'hard coded' that won't look for a url with a space.
At least, that's my guess as to why they do it -> not sure about it though. Could be something else.
I tried replacing it with "_" as suggested but that does not work either.
Also interesting is that the pages you end up at via the clickable links do not have any backlinks whatsoever!
i think it's for people spidering google's results.
annoys me greatly though, because i want to avoid putting false referrer google search strings (know what i mean?) into my webaliser reports by clicking myself when checking up on what has been indexed....
I've seen it quite a few times. Kinda annoys me but I understand why they do it.
Brett has in the past mentioned a possible explanation for the space in the URL as you are describing. The thought is that it breaks up long URL's, when necessary, to keep the formatting of the page. That way users with low screen resolution will not need to scroll over to the right. It also keeps the Google adwords column visible without scrolling.
I have just discovered another instance of this phenomena and I can say that Google is definitely inserting the space and breaking the URL rather than copying the erroneous link from elsewhere.
I can say that because it is one of my clients sites that I built :)
So why does Google make a url unusable? Bretts 'prophylactic cosmetic' suggestion sounds plausible but who knows for sure.
Thanks everyone for your input.
It doesn't really make the link unusable, since their links are meant to be clicked on, not copy/pasted! I can understand why you as a site owner would do that to keep the logs clean, but Google is more interested in making things easier/better for people doing searches.
The URLs at the bottom of each Google entry are not clickable.
So why does Google make a url unusable?
The URI is displayed because its one of the 3 most useful bits of informationn when looking through SERPS. (i.e. Title, Description, URI)
It is useable - because you can read it and use it to decided which results to click through.
Any other uses are not what google have in mind when they display the URI with a listing.