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I have no real idea why G awards fresh-tags for certain pages, but it might be dependent on PR, or how often the page is updated, or how shiny your shoes are... it's not a given after a bot drops by, though.
The difference between the "deep crawl" and the "fresh crawl" was much more apparent this time last year when we were only pushing a new deep index about once a month. As Google improved our infrastructure, the deep crawl became much fresher, and the fresh crawl could sometimes go pretty deep. So these days, there's not as much visible difference, but I think currently we only show dates if you were in the fresh crawl and within that window of recency.
There ya go, the mystery of the fresh dates laid bare. Probably no one except for SEOs have ever wondered about the criteria, so it's good that we have this informal way of communicating. :)
I have looked at this site for a long time trying to figure out why it gets the fresh date, and also trying to figure out how they are #1 with no Cache, and only a few incoming links. The fact is, there are still a lot of mysteries out there when it comes to Google.
Fact is that I use a couple searhterms:
1. company name : show up the index page with freshdate.
2. product name : show up the index page (same page since I have this product outlined there as HOT)....however now there is no freshdate.
In both cases the URL in the SERP is something like www.domain.com/index.htm
If I go back and forth between these searches it is consistent with showing the freshdate for the first and not for the second (in case people think about different datacenter).
> Balam, that's not always true. I can sticky you with a prime example[...]
Plain curiousity asks that you sticky me, please. Does sound like a rather unusual situation...
> Not sure about that balam, but I do know that the noarchive tag doesn't keep a site from being fresh-crawled.
And I've got the logfiles to prove that. Thanks! :)
Just some FYI for anyone who cares to read it, regarding how I came to my conclusion...
My main site, roughly 300 pages & fully indexed by Google, used to be fully cached by Google. At any given time, roughly 10-15% of my pages also had freshdates. I threw a "googlefit" one day and added the "noarchive" attribute to my site. Lost all signs of freshdates, but it had zero impact on Google's crawling patterns, my SERPs (beyond losing freshdates), number of pages indexed, or the indexing of new pages.
Cool - that's how it should be; but I miss the freshdates.
So, outta curiousity, I let Google cache the homepage again. Two days later, a freshdate. Let a little time go by (a week?), added noarchive, and a day later no cache, no freshdate.
Good experiments have reproducable results - so, rinse & repeat. With a half dozen sites. Same results...
But then again... YMMV
It does have a freshdate and there is a "Cached" version link. I looked at the source, and there's no noarchive attribute. This page does fit my theory that only cached pages get freshdates.
So, what's unusual?
If you click on the "Cached" link, as 4crests noted, you get a blank page except for Google's standard cached page header.
All the page's HTML is still there, it just doesn't display. (Well, the <TITLE> does, but that's it.) I think it might have something to do with the fact that he built his site using frames; it's either too early or too late in the day - I'm not sure which - for me to figure out right now. :)