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For our most competitive keyword, we've been seeing weird, old news results pop up in the top ten hits. I can't figure out why these dated pages are appearing, but Google must be tweaking their algorithm a bit in this regard.
Has anyone else seen this?
So maybe Google is having an index-wide refresh that is somehow considering all this news to be recent?
Hmmmm... add in the recent reports of a drop in spidering frequency [webmasterworld.com] and that sounds like a real possibility. It is the time of year where we often see "holiday changes" to Google Search.
But more seriously, this is a lot like the kind of shift we've seen in recent years. At this time of year, it takes a lot of parallel marketing channels or an established customer base to succeed. Google has decided that many queries are early in the "buying cycle" and the user really wants information. It will be interesting to see if it shifts in a few weeks.
Still, returning to the topic of the thread, including OLD news articles in the results does seem a bit off base. I'm guessing that would be a bug in the process rather than something intended.
Anycase, I think this is the case only in a few datacenters and could be a bug, so as you said, let's wait and watch.