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Normally, it's probably OK, but do a Google search for stackoverflow trac dreamhost svn or even site:stackoverflow.com trac dreamhost svn and the first result is...a meta post? If I was looking for help related to Trac, Dreamhost, and SVN on SO with Google...I just failed.

I think that robots.txt should block the indexing of meta. Or there should be some kind of trickery in place to lower the ranking of meta pages on Google searches.

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Love the fact that now the first result for the query you linked is now this question. –  Dominic Rodger Nov 3 '09 at 11:58
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Holy crap. Google not only loves Stack Overflow, but they love Meta. Perhaps a bit too much... –  Thomas Owens Nov 3 '09 at 12:05
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You've became a victim of your own problem –  David Pearce Nov 3 '09 at 13:23
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Did you try site:stackoverflow.com -site:meta.stackoverflow.com? –  Cole Johnson Feb 27 '13 at 17:37
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FWIW, this post is currently the #3 Google result for the term "Why is meta indexed by Google?", so if nothing else, it helps Googlers who might have the same question. –  Wesley Murch Feb 28 '13 at 4:25

3 Answers 3

up vote 32 down vote accepted

What makes you think no-one wants to find posts on meta? Just yesterday I did two searches specifically looking for meta posts.

If you want to remove meta posts from your results, include

-site:meta.stackoverflow.com

So in your case the search would be:

site:stackoverflow.com trac dreamhost svn -site:meta.stackoverflow.com

which works just fine.

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Hm. Is there some Google trickery to lower the rank of meta pages so they only appear if you do site:meta.stackoverflow.com? That would be optimal, IMO. But it's kind of confusing if you Google for "trac dreamhost svn" on stack overflow and the first hit is a meta posting... –  Thomas Owens Nov 3 '09 at 11:26
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I suspect it's not going to happen that often though, to be honest. I think you were probably just unlucky. There may be some way of boosting some URLs on a site over others - I don't know. –  Jon Skeet Nov 3 '09 at 11:34
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I'll chalk this one up to me being unlucky. That's usually how my programming related google searches go - I never get what I want on the first try. –  Thomas Owens Nov 3 '09 at 11:37
    
It might be possible to tweak the relative importance of different URLs using the priority element in an XML sitemap. I don't know if it will work between subdomains though. IMO it would be better simply to link between posts that are related, this may be best for users. –  Liam Jul 14 '10 at 14:20

I don't know how automated Google's Do you mean ...? feature is. Perhaps we can get Google to add Do you mean "{existing search terms} -site:meta.stackoverflow.com"? when it appears often as well as stackoverflow.com itself in results.

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This is becoming a larger problem since this post was originally written. There is a constant barrage of people asking Stack Overflow questions on Meta. A lot of them I believe are because they heard about Stack Overflow, googled it, and then came up with a Meta link.

We really need to set it so that Meta posts have less priority than SO posts for Google.

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This is probably going to be tricky / impossible for SE to do. The only way to solve the problem would be to un-index all of Meta, and I'm sure no-one wants that, either... not sure what can be done here –  Pëkka Feb 27 '13 at 17:36
    
Googling "stack overflow" gets SO, not meta, for me at least. Do you get meta? –  Servy Feb 27 '13 at 17:37
    
@Pekka웃, yeh, I'm no SEO guy, so I don't know what's possible. Personally, I don't see having Meta un-indexed as being bad. –  Lance Roberts Feb 27 '13 at 17:39
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@LanceRoberts I do, because I search for posts on meta quite often. –  Servy Feb 27 '13 at 18:01
    
@Servy, so it'd be fine if they just made it so that Meta posts rank lower in SEO. You'd always be able to search with site:meta.stackoverflow.com. –  Lance Roberts Feb 27 '13 at 18:03
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I'm pretty sure that Stack Exchange is big enough that you could just ask Google. Hell, SO is where youtube and google groups are sending people for help now. –  mikeTheLiar Feb 27 '13 at 18:26
    
Can you provide an example one of these problematic Google searches? When I Google "Stack Overflow" I don't get any prominent results from meta: google.com/search?q=Stack+Overflow Or do you have another search query that displays the problem? I don't think this is the reason people are posting programming questions here, most (but not all) of the posters seem to already have SO accounts (and some people post here because of question bans). I doubt the issue is Google indexing meta. –  Wesley Murch Feb 28 '13 at 4:29
    
@WesleyMurch, ok, here's one, 2nd item is Meta. I will agree that after doing quite a few searches it isn't as bad as I thought (though I still think that prioritizing would be a good idea if possible). –  Lance Roberts Feb 28 '13 at 5:09
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Is the problem you want to solve really this one?: "We need to decrease the number of off-topic posts on Meta." If so, then why not just start a discussion about how best to do this? I don't honestly think the answer is "have Google stop indexing meta". –  Wesley Murch Feb 28 '13 at 5:13
    
Yes, I'm tired of constantly closing and deleting those (which I do with a vengeance). I agree this won't be any kind of final solution, but I see it as an incremental one. Doesn't look like it's going to get traction though. –  Lance Roberts Feb 28 '13 at 5:14
    
@mikeTheLiar I've wondered about that too! Google technical support for Google App Engine, Google Fusion and I can't remember what else, though there are others, are sending people here. Given that, I would think it should be possible to contact Google directly. They have enterprise customer support phone numbers listed now, so y'all could maybe call them on the phone about it? –  Ellie Kesselman Mar 1 '13 at 6:34
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@Feral and a few days after that, some Google dev posts a question on Stack Overflow: how can I tweak this search algorithm to de-prioritize meta.stackoverflow? –  mikeTheLiar Mar 1 '13 at 13:35
    
@mikeTheLiar Seriously? Wow. Wow, just um, wow. I need to ask you a question. –  Ellie Kesselman Mar 18 '13 at 5:41
    
That's not a problem. Those questions are closed and deleted faster than light. –  Shadow Wizard May 28 '13 at 6:16

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