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SEO in stackoverflow

It seems like Stack Overflow enjoys some privileges at Google. Whenever I ask a question and then do a search on Google (to check if I may have missed something or can the find the answer myself, now that I've asked the question...you know that, right? You can't find the freaking answer for days, but the moment you ask it on the Internet the answer suddenly flies to you!) my answer appears in the search.

How is Stack Exchange doing that? Do you guys have some special privilege or agreement with Google, so that they're checking your sites in real-time? Or is this just happening because Stack Overflow is so big and awesome?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Dec 22 '09 at 20:59

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

marked as duplicate by Adam Davis, Kip, Jeff Atwood Dec 22 '09 at 22:19

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
Why does it now say "migrated 5 mins ago"? –  mmyers Dec 22 '09 at 22:26
    
mmyers: Because migration time was replace with closing time. I think an entry to this issue already exists, but I'm not sure. –  Ladybug Killer Dec 22 '09 at 22:41

4 Answers 4

(Serious answer appears elsewhere.)

Here's the rough steps involved in a question appearing:

  1. User hits "Post Your Question"
    • I intercept the request, and read the question.
    • I prepare an answer.
    • I change all existing information on the internet to make it clear that my answer is the one and only True Answer to the question.
    • I allow the original request to reach the SO web server, and wait for it to be processed.
    • I post my answer to the question, leaving a few nanoseconds between the question becoming visible and my answer appearing. After all, I wouldn't want to be unfair to other users.
    • I update the Google index to include the question.
    • I use subliminal signals (typically via slight fluctuations in power supplies) to nudge SO users towards my answer, gently drawing their cursors to the upvote button.

As you can see, step 7 is the one relevant to your question. I just thought you'd want a bit of context.

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1  
-1 - no freehand circles, waffles, ponies, or M. ??? N. Profit! –  Adam Davis Dec 22 '09 at 22:17
3  
Hey, what's with all the Jon Skeet love? It's like you're... oh, wait. –  mmyers Dec 22 '09 at 22:29
    
What about the 5 sockpuppet accounts?! You missed that bit –  Chris S Dec 23 '09 at 10:30

Google knows that Stack Overflow's content is updated regularly, so it polls the sitemap more often than it would for a site which only changes once a month. As far as I'm aware, this is entirely automatic (I'd be shocked if it were manual) - the crawler is just self-tuning to make search results as "fresh" as possible without trying to hit every web site in the world every 20 seconds.

(Disclaimer: I work for Google, but not on the search team. I'm not that smart :)

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Why do you need to be smarter to work on the search team than on another team? You would need to be an expert in that particular area, obviously, but as long as you are not stupid I doubt intelligence plays a big role. –  Andreas Bonini Dec 22 '09 at 21:11
    
There is also a discussion on the podcasts about this site's extensive sitemap tweaking to tell the Googlebot what has changed. –  Martin Beckett Dec 22 '09 at 21:12
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@Koper: For one thing: if you screw something up in search and it somehow gets through QA, you're going to make a lot of people cross... and cost the company a lot of money. I suspect there's also more algorithmic understanding necessary for search than for most other products. Like all generalisations, there are exceptions of course. –  Jon Skeet Dec 22 '09 at 21:13
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@Koper - perhaps not smarter but you do have to be able to click and cut and paste very quickly to index all the sites on the net. –  Martin Beckett Dec 22 '09 at 21:13
    
@Jon Shouldn't screwups that get through QA be QA's fault? :-) –  ceejayoz Dec 22 '09 at 21:33
    
You don't have to be smart to work on a search team. There are dozens of morons on the Bing team. (I kid I kid!) –  Kip Dec 22 '09 at 22:03
    
@ceejayoz: bwahahaha. good one. –  Ether Dec 23 '09 at 1:02

It's all part of the magic of...

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It's Google's new real-time search initiative, in which they're indexing certain sites as close to real-time as they can.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/relevance-meets-real-time-web.html

First, we're introducing new features that bring your search results to life with a dynamic stream of real-time content from across the web. Now, immediately after conducting a search, you can see live updates from people on popular sites like Twitter and FriendFeed, as well as headlines from news and blog posts published just seconds before. When they are relevant, we'll rank these latest results to show the freshest information right on the search results page.

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2  
I don't believe this affects Stack Overflow though - in particular, Google results for Stack Overflow have been very quick for months, well before this went live. –  Jon Skeet Dec 22 '09 at 21:01
    
It's been known for some time that Google "optimizes" its bot activity by indexing frequently updated sites more often, and indexing infrequently updated sites less often. –  Neil N Dec 22 '09 at 21:05
    
SO isn't a real-time source like Twitter, FriendFeed, etc. –  ceejayoz Dec 22 '09 at 21:33
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@ceejayoz - It may not be categorized as such by google, but it's real time in terms of a constant feed of new posts and information. –  Adam Davis Dec 22 '09 at 22:06