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If I search for "Ruby off the rails" site:stackoverflow.com, I don't get Ruby off the rails in the first few pages. However, a separate question about hosting does, and there are links to the question I was searching for from the first page's hits.

Update: I tried some different searches to see if it was two titles having a similar name that was the problem. Instead, I tried How do I replace an executable with a mock executable in a test? site:stackoverflow.com, and found that that got no Stack Overflow hits. Removing the site: limitation got hits for copycat websites.

Another update: Searching for "Is there a secure way to set up a mysql root password?" got only http://stackoverflow.com/sitemap.xml within Stack Overflow.

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your 2nd example appears to be a rare google-fail, that's not in their index for us at all. –  Jeff Atwood Feb 8 '10 at 10:11
    
@Jeff: The sitemap itself gets indexed? Are you sure you set a valid Content-Type for it? It shouldn't happen –  Andreas Bonini Feb 8 '10 at 22:05
    
@Koper: @wood was referring to the example in "Update", not the example in "Another update". –  Andrew Grimm Feb 9 '10 at 2:02

2 Answers 2

That is odd.

site:stackoverflow.com intitle:"ruby off the rails"

works, but it's strange that Google doesn't put the direct string match on the title at the top with

site:stackoverflow.com "ruby off the rails"

Regardless, this isn't a Stack Overflow problem, but a Google problem.

In particular:

http://stackoverflow.com/search?q=ruby+off+the+rails

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1  
If your web site isn't compatible with Google, it's not Google that suffers. –  Andrew Grimm Jan 9 '11 at 10:39

tongue in cheek

I have no idea what you're talking about, but it works for me:

http://www.google.com/search?q=Searching%20in%20google%20with%20a%20question%E2%80%99s%20title%20doesn%E2%80%99t%20make%20the%20question%20appear%20on%20the%20first%20page

/tongue in cheek

Keep in mind that Google doesn't guarantee that any particular result will show up in a search, and SO only lists about 10% of the total questions in its sitemap. If the question doesn't appear in the sitemap, and nothing links to it, it may fall from Google index.

Furthermore, search is an interesting business, and while the page title is important, the indexes used might give other results a higher priority than the SO question even if the title is the same as your search terms.

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