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#1 bwelford

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 09:05 PM

Perhaps you think a blog cannot work without a Home page, but this morning I suddenly questioned that. I chatted with dazzlindonna (Donna Fontenot) first who thought it might be cool and then with ekstreme (Pierre Far) by trans-Atlantic chat who rapidly came up with a great solution. You can see the solution in detail here.

Basically when you go to the domain, you are instantly 301 redirected to a web page that shows the latest blog entry. That same redirection continues to apply until you add the next post, when the domain is then redirected to the new post. This means that the search engines will assume all the inlinks should be assigned to the current post. More often than not this is the right assignment since it is often the latest post that is of interest to most visitors.

If you look at SERPs for keywords that might be appropriate for your latest post, you may often find that Google shows the Home page first with the individual blog post indented below that. This change should ensure that it is always the blog post itself that ranks highest in the SERPs.

I'm not sure I see any downsides and I believe there are significant upsides. What do you think?

#2 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 10:28 PM

The 2 concerns that come to my mind are:

1) Will the bots get confused?

2) Will people get confused? If I'm expecting to see a home page, and I don't, what will I think about that?

Those are my 2 concerns, but there's also one question I have. Is it ONLY the home page link that gets redirected? If I were to link to a post you wrote 3 months ago (a deep link), would the link still go to that post?

#3 bwelford

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 10:47 PM

It's early days, Donna, so we will have to see how things pan out.

However on your two questions, I don't think the bots will get confused and links to deep posts seem to be fine from very limited checking I have done.

The best test for me is to do a search for 'Look Mom No Home Page'. Before you would get the Home Page: now you get the post and it's only two hours since I published the post.

#4 fairclb

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 05:28 AM

I have a few concerns about this approach, how do search engines treat a permanent redirect? It is my understanding that a 301 indicates to them that this page is no longer valid and to pass all rankings to the page I am redirecting too. If that is the case, one of the articles will eventually be considered the home page and the original home page will removed meaning it provides no SEO benefit. If the latest blog post is always at the same location this might work well, but this method is taking the user to a very specific page.

The other concern is the feeling of disorientation, people like to go to the home page to learn about the author/company and get oriented as to where they are. If you take that ability away you risk confusing your visitors.

Edited by fairclb, 14 April 2010 - 06:04 AM.


#5 bwelford

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 08:05 AM

I'm only talking blogs here, fairclb. I've now switched all my blogs to this approach so I'll know quickly if this is creating problems.

In fact visitors to any of the blogs will see no difference in what appears on the rendered page. The blogs always showed only the single latest post and that is unchanged. The only difference, if you spot it, is that the address in the address field is different.

As for the search engines, I believe there are advantages and I will be writing those up as I see them in the next week. However I would love to hear other people's guesses on how the search engines might be affected. :(

#6 glyn

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 08:27 AM

You get nowhere without bending and testing stuff. Let me know how it goes.

My fear is that a 301 redirect could first your old pages getting no found when the system republishes the new post.

IE

Spider goes to domain.com
gets told that the page is actually
domain.com/greatpost.php

Spider goes away.

Spider comes back.

Visits domain.com/greatpost.php (because we told it that domain.com is no longer valid)

doesn't find it because in the meantime you've added a new post which would make the homepage as follows: domain.com/reallygreatpost.php

You miss the indexing because the spider don't go to homepage anymore.

Just thinking aloud.

Can you just set an extract for your homepage snippets.

ps. some engines won't follow the redirect, then what.

Good luck

#7 bwelford

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 09:43 AM

Visits domain.com/greatpost.php (because we told it that domain.com is no longer valid)

doesn't find it because in the meantime you've added a new post which would make the homepage as follows: domain.com/reallygreatpost.php

That's not how it works, glyn. domain.com/greatpost.php is the correct long term URL for that post and it will always be there. What we are doing is putting the spot light on that post and calling it the entry point to the domain for a time.

That's not to say there are not lots of questions here. If the back links were pointing to domain.com will it index them against domain.com/greatpost.php. Next time around they will point to a different post so will they be switched.

All I know is that the present system has its drawbacks too. The domain shows up in SERPs when it may no longer be valid for certain keywords that have disappeared either down a long page or off the page entirely. That problem is avoided with this suggested approach.

On your search engines not accepting the 301 redirection, then it would be interpreted as a 302 redirection and there is then no effect on where back links are indexed.

Edited by bwelford, 14 April 2010 - 09:47 AM.


#8 bwelford

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 10:12 AM

To illustrate the problem I'm trying to avoid, here below is an image of a SERP that should produce a relevant item for a recent post on this same blog where we now have no home page. Neither of the two SERP entries from the blog are at all relevant to the post I'm searching for.

serpforstaygolinks.png

#9 jonbey

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 10:12 AM

A bit fluffy, gut sure I read once that the SE's like to be able to find your index page. May lose trust if not. Dunno though, long time ago, fluffy,.

#10 eKstreme

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 02:44 PM

I think this will make a great test. It's a very intriguing idea.

At this stage I'm uncomfortable recommending it for a real website. We'd also need to test 301 vs 302 redirects.

#11 glyn

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 03:22 PM

I get you, you are doing something like

directory index post.html

Try it and see, then come back with your findings. I guess you're attempting to push, for want of simplification, PR of the homepage to a new page as a temporary...at least that is one thing that might happen.

#12 bwelford

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 03:57 PM

I'm still working through possibilities and watching SERPs and Google Analytics. However a tentative theory is that normally the majority of links come into what is called the home page. Other links come into all the other web pages. I'm not doing anything that will affect the number of links coming in to web pages on the domain. But I do remove the home page. I am therefore assuming that the inlinks will be distributed among the other web pages.

Since PageRank is determined by numbers of inlinks, this should mean that the PageRanks of the other web pages will be higher since they directly get the inlinks rather than having internal links from the home page with its ? 85% discounting factor.

#13 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 06:59 PM

From the test blog's explanation:

Part of the reason for this is that the blog Home page has many back links or inlinks pointing to it which causes it to outrank new blog posts which have very few links. This after all is the fundamental principle of the Google search algorithm. The Home page has the highest PageRank and other web pages have lower values. Indeed if they are very recent, they may not even have a value assigned.


Of course, that PageRank is not making as big a difference as this article suggests. The blog home page usually ranks first because it is being recrawled immediately after the ping -- whereas it takes longer for the search engines to crawl and index the individual post pages.

Not all blogs embed their articles in standalone post pages -- search engines have no way of knowing in advance where the blog will share its content, so indexing the home page first makes a lot of sense.

If the blogger allows more than one post to appear on the front page, visitors can read more than one article. This, of course, screws up your analytics data because it looks like you get high bounce rates -- but none of the analytics software can accurately measure time-on-site or true bounces anyway.

I honestly don't see the value in doing this. The individual articles will be crawled and indexed and the blog should build brand value through its home page. If you're constantly redirecting visitors to the most recent blog post I doubt you'll build much brand value. You're discouraging natural visitor curiosity by making them work for more content.

Negatively impacting the user experience that is (in my guess) not going to benefit a blog over the long term.

#14 A.N.Onym

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 09:13 PM

If you have a blog homepage and publish full posts on it, then by redirecting the homepage to a single post you reduce the amount of long tail traffic. And I'm a fan of a page with lots of links and content (a blog homepage, for example).

The only potential benefit I see is that if your post is the best link magnet on your site, then you make it slightly easier to link to your post. However, it doesn't seem to be a huge problem.

#15 glyn

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 04:11 AM

Let's wait and see. This thread has a lot of ideas in it, and like Alberto the frog who's going to guess the right answer (Milkshake flavour)
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=wHcl8fsRhRM

#16 bwelford

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 09:27 AM

In case we lose too many people with Alberto the Frog (6 1/2 minutes of ... - one unkind comment said it was booooring - probably guessed the milkshake flavour wrong), I should say that I am seeing some very intriguing indications in SERPs that this is doing something very useful. However you do lose the toolbar page rank indicator for the domain, since you can no longer see 'the domain'. If anyone has thoughts on how to still find the PageRank for the domain, that would be intriguing. Clearly this is not for the faint of heart, particularly if your toolbar PageRank is important to you. I will be writing some findings up after a few more days of testing.

Of course the real question is how will this play out in long term indexing with Google. My guess is that if it looks good immediately, then it probably won't go sour over a longer period since there is nothing here that goes against the Guidelines. However who knows.

#17 A.N.Onym

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 04:58 AM

I wonder if an ecommerce shop with few products can afford to redirect to a single product, while having the homepage at /home or something. But this seems unconventional enough to confuse visitors.

Anyway, while redirecting the page may seem weird, I did try optimizing a homepage for just one keyword theme (twice) of the whole website (which seems to be a middle ground between redirecting and not acutely optimizing a homepage) and it did help somewhat (but not substantially). However, what's missing from the recipe is the amount of links *to the homepage* with related anchor text. So unless you are writing about a topic that's related to your homepage anchor text history, it'll be hard to see a good shift in rankings, it would seem.

Then again, it *is* an interesting experiment, so let's, indeed, wait and see :)

Edited by A.N.Onym, 16 April 2010 - 05:00 AM.


#18 bwelford

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 09:38 AM

Just as a quick update, I think this approach is probably useful for all blogs. It seems to work very well for my style of blog writing. I usually write a pretty substantive blog post at least once a week. My old home page showed only the latest post so it looks very little different.

In some ways it's more user friendly. Before you would have to click on the title to move to the single post, which had the link at the top to the previous post. Now that appears on the first page you see.

I'm very intrigued at what I'm seeing in the SERPs and will shortly report on that. For quick reference, I'm calling it the LMNHP approach, not to be confused with the Lucknow Muzaffarpur National Highway Project. :)

#19 A.N.Onym

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 05:25 PM

I guess each of us has different blog homepages. Mine is/was a list of 10 posts under some 500 characters, while some have 5-10 full blog posts.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 16 April 2010 - 05:26 PM.


#20 bwelford

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 09:45 AM

You may find the following update of interest. This approach is now being applied to 4 blogs and all 4 are #1 for the titles of their latest post. Cutting back on the words in the searches, the four still come up as #1 in my (personalized) searches for the following phrases. In some cases, there is a good deal of competition for similar phrases. Your mileage may vary so you may wish to check them out yourself:Some of these searches are not very likely to be done by humans, but they do illustrate how Google is seeing these blogs. I'll be checking these out on a regular basis and will try to leave one or two unchanged for a week or two. The questions I'm asking myself are:
a ) Will these results persist or will they suddenly change?
b ) Will these posts be equally visible once the next post comes in and takes their place as the 'front page' of the blog?

If you want to check out more of my thinking, then the BPWrap post on Higher Search Engine Rankings Without A Home Page, the #1 in the first search above, does give more. As usual, your thoughts on any aspect of this would be most helpful.

Edited by bwelford, 18 April 2010 - 10:12 AM.


#21 fairclb

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 05:23 AM

The interesting result in my opinion is will your subsequent posts rank well or if they will begin to fall slowly each time you add one.

#22 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 07:36 PM

Barry, I think you mean to say "... million hits" rather than searches for those expressions.

#23 bwelford

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 07:58 PM

The interesting result in my opinion is will your subsequent posts rank well or if they will begin to fall slowly each time you add one.

Exactly, fairclb. They will presumably slowly decline asymptotically towards the slowly rising curve they would have been following without this initial burst of glory. Of course if Google hangs on to back links way beyond their 'best before' date, then these posts may always be above where they otherwise would have been.

I think you mean to say "... million hits" rather than searches for those expressions.


I was wrong there, Michael. However, I'm not sure what those numbers mean since Google doesn't seem to label them. The best explanation I could find came from our good Google friend, JohnMu.

#24 bwelford

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 12:58 PM

Perhaps others may have a view on the following 'controversy' in this approach. I published a post here and there is now some discussion on Hacker News about this.

One commenter suggested the following:

It looks like they recommend the use of the permanent 301 redirection for a temporary redirection. This could be interpreted as a misuse, and search engines may not like it (like <meta> keywords).

I replied as follows to that:

The comment on the 301 redirection is interesting. A 302 redirection would imply that the original URL should be maintained since the redirection to another URL is temporary and will be reversed. In this case, the next redirection when it comes along will be to yet another URL. Provided this process is maintained, what we have is a series of permanent redirections with never a reversion to a prior URL.

What is your guess about how the search engines will react to this?

#25 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 01:09 PM

Because search engines take history into account, it may be a problem. Hard to say for sure if it would be, or even if so, what kind of problem it would be.

#26 bwelford

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 10:09 AM

For those who are following this saga, I am keeping detailed records on what is happening to the various posts on the four blogs and so far the SERP results are turning out to be impressive. In the earlier post, I gave some searches you might find of interest. For two of the blogs I have added a single post. You may be intrigued to see what those searches intended to find the prior posts now turn up.

  • Senior Money Memos - Google search for Senior Label (27.0 million items)
  • Staygolinks - Google search for Look Mom No Home (23.4 million items)

In both cases, the new 'home page' (which is now the single web page version of the new latest post) is included in the SERP results, although it is not obviously relevant to the keyword search. The prior post which is the relevant one does still hold its ranking in each case. It also appears with the correct Title and with a snippet derived from its own meta description. So far, so good. :)

#27 bwelford

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 09:53 PM

Sorry to be monopolising the conversation, but perhaps you're all waiting to be surprised. Well this may be it.

You may be amused about a further test I am doing on this. Today I was very impressed by a video mentioned on the TED blog. The speaker described the Marshmallow Challenge, which is helpful in developing team action and creativity. That's my bag so I decided that this would be the next post on BPWrap, which has not had posts added since I started this topic. The post was added to the blog some 4 hours ago as I write this entry.

The Marshmallow Challenge has about 390,000 items in the search so it's relatively competitive. I'm hopeful that this post I wrote will be relatively successful in the SERPs but so far it has not appeared in the top 100 for a search for Marshmallow Challenge. What has slightly blown my mind is that the post does appear in a search for its exact title, "the marshmallow challenge". It's item #10 for me. That's a very intriguing ranking given it's only been up 4 hours.

<update - post is now 15 hours old> This post is now at #3 for a search for 'the marshmallow challenge'.

Edited by bwelford, 23 April 2010 - 01:16 PM.


#28 fairclb

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 05:01 AM

It seems that in theory this might work... what about the previous post, has it dropped in ranking or has it remained where it was?

Have you seen an increase or decrease in traffic from this?

#29 bwelford

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 08:50 AM

I'm monitoring all recent posts since the changeover for all four blogs. For the 3 with new posts the previous posts are retaining their high rankings in their keyword searches.

These keyword searches are ones that help me understand how Google is handling these single post web pages. They are not necessarily ones that have huge numbers of clicks although some of them are in pretty competitive areas. There's no great increase in traffic. What is curious is to see that of course in the Google Analytics no one lands on the 'home page' but all traffic is coming to single post web pages. I'm also sure that visitors wanted to see those pages since they clicked on a SERP item with the right title and snippet derived from the meta description for that particular web page.

#30 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 10:05 PM

Barry, how long do you think you'll monitor this experiment? I would want to see at least three months' data before I felt comfortable drawing solid conclusions.

What's your comfort level? This is a fascinating experiment. (Although I'm still not sure what would be gained from doing this.)

Edited by Michael_Martinez, 23 April 2010 - 10:06 PM.


#31 bwelford

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 12:34 AM

I'll wait a little longer before giving more complete reactions, but as of now I am staggered by how quickly each new single page post leaps to the top of the SERPs for its title when other more 'authoritative' source posts might have been expected to rank higher. These higher rankings are maintained even when the post becomes a prior post and is replaced by a newer post. I am keeping detailed records of time for single posts to achieve these higher rankings and will summarize these in a week or two.

Since the blogs themselves look very little different from how they appeared before this change, I have no reason to revert and accept inferior performance. If at some time these improvements disappeared then I would have to consider what would be done at that time.

#32 A.N.Onym

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 08:09 AM

Barry, does your homepage title change in the SERPs as soon as you change the post or not? If not, when?

#33 bwelford

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 09:20 AM

It would seem that the switch occurs as soon as the spiders crawl the website and register the new 'content'. In any search where the current 'front page' is relevant, then the entry in the SERPs will look as follows:

Posted Image

Note that the URL shows the domain but clicking on the entry takes you to the single blog post web page. The Title is the Title of that web page and the snippet is the Meta description for that post page. I wrote that post after seeing a Reuters article on Banking and Customer Service. The Google search for 'best banks' is very competitive with 81 million items.

This is my record of what I saw in that Google search:

April 22 16:55 blog post published
April 23 11:37 blog post at #3 in search
April 23 17:10 blog post at #1 in search
April 23 22:17 blog post still at #1 in search

As of this morning, the blog post has dropped to #72, which is probably a better reflection of where this fairly short post should sit relative to the really heavy hitters that are at the top in the rankings. However it is somewhat mind-blowing that such a post could be at the top for a while.

In all cases that same SERP entry has appeared so it is much more clickable than some other entries that the Google snippet algorithm creates.

<update 11:14 PST> It's now back up at #1 when I do the search now. YMMV

Edited by bwelford, 24 April 2010 - 01:16 PM.


#34 A.N.Onym

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 05:46 PM

It's quite surprising that Google updates the title in the SERPs so quickly: it took about a week to update last time I checked.

#35 bwelford

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 09:00 AM

To keep you posted, all is continuing well for the four blogs in terms of SERP rankings. As new posts are added, the previous ones maintain the high rankings they achieved when featured as the 'front page' of the blogs.

The most recent blog post added was about the SEO communities and the new generation controversy fueled by Kim's blog post, which resulted in the topic here on whether the Forums should die. I titled it 'Video Games', which is a search with 230 million items so it was unlikely that it would rank highly in such a competitive arena. The post was written on April 24 and appeared in SERPs early on April 25.

The post was about the Shanda Computer Games in China and SEO communities. If you do a search for 'shanda computer games SEO communities', then the post appears as #1 in a search with 4,790 items. More intriguingly add in the word, China, and here is what I'm seeing this morning (YMMV). Note that only the word 'games' appears in the Title of the post.

Posted Image

If you check the Cache dates, then you find the second item with the individual post URL was last cached on April 24. This item is of course a URL with associated content that will not change in the long term.

For the first item, the blog 'front page', the latest cache date is April 25. This 'front page' reference will of course no longer be relevant when the next blog post is added. The URL may then be the same but the content will be different. This happens with all blogs, however they are structured.

As usual, your thoughts on any downsides you see will be most appreciated.

#36 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 09:32 AM

Some thoughts:

1) I have to imagine that a long-tail phrase like [shanda computer games SEO communities] or ['shanda computer games china SEO communities] would have resulted in your blog post doing well in the SERPs under any circumstances, regardless of this test or not.

2) If I'm searching for [shanda computer games SEO communities] two weeks from now and the home page shows up in the SERPs for that phrase, but when I click on the result, the home page redirects me to some new post that isn't what I sought, won't I be confused?

3) Of course, #2 won't apply if the home page no longer ranks for [shanda computer games SEO communities] two weeks from now. Will the blog post still rank for it? I would think it would, and if so, that eliminates issue #2 above also.

Those are my current thoughts. Will add more as they form.

#37 bwelford

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 10:00 AM

Good questions, Donna.

Re 1), I have the impression that the posts are ranking very much higher than I would expect given the competition of other items in the SERPs. For example for a search for computer games lisa barone seo communities, this post is still #1 and #2.

Re 2), the link in the SERP always takes you to the post as described. What is anomalous is that the URL displayed is not the URL for that link but rather the URL for the domain. That's the only minor confusion in this situation. However before this, the URL for the domain would have taken you to a Home page for the blog with only a single blog entry showing so it did not look any different. This process just jumps you a little farther to see a version of the same page that is produced by the single post template, single.php, rather than by index.php.

#38 A.N.Onym

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 10:07 AM

Barry, earlier you said that the homepage title *is* updated in the SERPs, when you publish the new post.

How come the URL isn't updated or you the title isn't updated as quickly?

I'm confused, as I wanted to make sure there's no confusion that Donna expressed in the search experience on the SERPs, too.

#39 bwelford

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 10:21 AM

In these SERP items we are discussing, the Title is the title for the single blog post web page and the associated hyperlink for the item takes you to that web page. It is impossible now to get to the 'domain' web page, http://www.otherbb.com/. If you click on that link, you end up at the latest single post web page.

The only anomaly is that Google shows the domain URL at the foot of the SERP snippet. So far Yahoo most often shows the actual URL for the single post web page, but still does it the Google way occasionally.

#40 A.N.Onym

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 11:19 AM

Alright, here's a cache of the homepage with outdated page content and title, which shows in the SERPs.

When searching for retirement savings account site:seniormoneymemos.com, the homepage isn't shown, unlike for senior label or brand

I guess I could've answered my question myself, after all.



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