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Could A Little More Info in the SERPs Improve Relevancy?

Google Toys with Dates and Classification

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Google is  testing the concept of showing a date alongside certain results on its SERPs. The tests were spotted by Michael Gray (like two months ago) and by a WebmasterWorld member. Search Engine Roundtable quotes the latter:

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.

Gray has posted a screenshot of his results:

There’s no question that when this feature becomes widespread, it will help users determine the relevancy of some results to their searches. Newer results are often more relevant than older ones. In fact this is probably the case more often than not. It’s not true all of the time though. Personally, I would like to see the ability to toggle between sort "by relevancy" and "by date" similar to the way Google News is set up. The newest is not always the most relevant. Listing the date is definitely not a bad idea either way. At the very least, users will be able to get an idea of what they’re in for without having to click on a result to find out it’s 6 years old.

Search Engine Land has also found that Google seems to be classifying categories of posts, with the dates seeming to be attached to newsy articles, and forum threads showing the number of posts along with the "last post" date. That makes things a bit more interesting. If they can do this with blog posts and show the number of comments along with a "last commented on" date, this could actually be a huge improvement for relevancy. Like I talked about in this article, the amount of user engagement is a pretty good indication of relevancy. The more people talking about it, the more people it is obviously relevant to.

Of course there are still going to be variables to that concept, like comment spam, and lack of good marketing. There could be an excellent blog post out there that nobody knows about because they’ve never heard of the blog. But nevertheless, the concept would still be beneficial to users to help them better choose which results to click on in any given search. I’m looking forward to seeing how far Google takes this.

Could A Little More Info in the SERPs Improve Relevancy?
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  • http://www.veteranmeso.com/mesothelioma_in_navy_veterans.html navy veteran mesothelioma

     I’m interested to see how a more recent date means better results.  Many of my searches are not current events and this could be a potential pain in the butt.

    • Chris Crum

      This is why I think the toggle feature would be convenient, because sometimes you know you want newer results, depending on what you’re searching for. I can see how this could help the user decide which results will potentially be more relevant to them. It won’t make certain of that, but it could perhaps provide a little added assistance that isn’t already there.

  • http://www.sourcesurge.com SEO web design

    There are some keyword searches where the date displayed would be beneficial. Such as current news, or software drivers. There has been alot of times that I search for something that is old and stale. I think the date would be great for those type of searches.

    • Chris Crum

      Absolutely, I don’t see how having this added information can hurt either way.

  • http://www.goldpawnshop.com sell gold jewelry

    I have noticed a time stamp next to search results, in particular the ones I monitor for my site. However, I have not really noticed it on any other queries. Has anyone else noticed a time stamp? Its also not consistent…

     

  • http://www.Expression-Web-Tutorial.com Guest – Kelly

    What does the date represent?  The day the page was made, or the date the page was last updated?

    This is interesting because google and other SEs have been looking at the timestamp for quite some time now.  Basically, keeping a web site fresh, helps boost you in the SERPs.  This would translate into a recent Date/TimeStamp, which the search engines take into consideration.

    So now google wants everyone to see the timestamp.  This is the interesting part. 

    Maybe google wants to see if Viewers care about a certain time frame; is new always better?  or are there other circumstances to take into consideration?  In order to improve relevant search results, maybe google wants to find out how we, the viewers, take the date into consideration for non-news searches.  By doing this, google can alter their algorithm based on our reaction to the date of the SERs. 

    I try to update some of my pages every week….my site has too many pages to update every single page in a week.  So I choose the most popular pages with the most significant keywords and useful features and update these pages weekly.   It helps to keep my site in the top 10 of the SERPs for many keyword phrases.  But when I slack off and leave my web pages unchanged for a few weeks at a time, my position in the SERPs suffers. 

    The timestamp is not new.  What’s new, is that viewers can see the timestamp, all be it inconsistently.  None the less, sounds like google has something up their sleeves….as usual.