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Google Displaying Dates before Snippets

     
10:45 am on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I've been doing some research over the past few days and I'm noticing something that I hadn't seen before or maybe I just haven't been paying attention. ;)

In performing certain search queries, Google appears to be inserting the date of the page in front of the Snippet. I just performed one search and 5 of the 10 results had dates preceding their Snippets. One of them had the date towards the end of the Snippet.

Of the 6 dates shown, all were within the past 10 days with the exception of a Press Release from 2007.

I'm going to put me Tin Hat on and say that adding a date stamp at the top of new content may have a positive impact on things overall. Of those 5 results that had date stamps, all had a date stamp at the top of their main content.

2:57 pm on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like another interface test - at least I'm not seeing it. I think I'd appreciate the information a lot, as long as it's accurate. From what you report, it sounds like the last date that the page changed, rather than the last spidered date.
3:50 pm on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I've been seeing this for a while, usually for "query deserves freshness" types of searches.

all had a date stamp at the top of their main content

I've noticed that many do, though some just have a date as part of the title element. And then there are the one or two I've happened across with no date at all.
3:56 pm on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Interesting - do you mean at the beginning of the snippet? If so, I see similar. Where there is a date in content this appears to be a "preferred" part of the snippet to show (if there's no, no adequate or too short a meta description)
6:36 pm on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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This is not so new.
Barry Welford found it an half year ago.
[blog.cre8asite.net...]
6:57 pm on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for that. Normally we do not allow links to blogs and forums, but it makes sense in this case so we will make an exception.

I'm not sure that pageone is only seeing blog links, though. Maybe he can clarify that.

7:30 pm on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Maybe he can clarify that.

I can clarify, these are not just for blog links. :)

Also, the URIs in Barry's finding are date driven, the results I'm seeing are not. But, Barry's findings look very similar to what I'm seeing. Maybe Google is protecting itself now when it can after that recent fiasco?

7:43 pm on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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recent fiasco

No, I've been seeing it since before then. And somewhere in the deep, dark bits of the mind I seem to remember a mention of this, just can't pull it up.
8:13 pm on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The dates seem to appear pretty consistently when an article has a date written in plain text (especially near the beginning of the page?), for sites like the BBC too:

[google.com...]

8:56 pm on Oct 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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A site search [google.com] brings up a bunch of references.

One recent discussion that comes up, which I remember because I was involved in it...

Date in Search Results - for pages cached after April 1
[webmasterworld.com...]

Do you mean that the date is appearing in the snippet?

Yes, as the first thing in the snippet.

If you're talking about regular Google serps, are you talking about the news results that appear above the serps, or in "site" serps themselves?

The regular site results, not the news.

4:49 pm on Oct 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing this feature now on site: searches for webmasterworld.com - and the dates are EXTREMELY useful in our case, as you might imagine.
5:40 pm on Oct 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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A site search brings up a bunch of references.

But wait, I thought this wasn't new? ;)

Ya, the dates are appearing more frequently now over the past few days.

5:56 pm on Oct 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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...seeing this feature now on site: searches for webmasterworld.com...

I've occasionally searched with the year added (with not a huge amount of success) to narrow down a reference, and this feature comes as great news.

I'm wondering whether a next step for Google might be to offer sorting results by date... or even multiple sorts.

2:17 am on Dec 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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As of today, Google is showing a date as the first couple of words in the snippet for a site: search on one of my sites. This is not a forum or a blog. It is showing the date the page was last modified. I don't know if it is getting it from the "Last Modified" info in the page footer, or from the date in the HTTP Header.
11:01 am on Dec 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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g1smd, Google is showing a date at the beginning of some of my snippets too not only with site: search but also when I search for the page's title tag. I noticed Google is doing this on pages were my meta descriptions are only 15 to 18 words. The date Google is displaying in my case is pulled from the content of my page where several dates may occur in event review articles I write.