I commonly search Google or Bing for questions related to programming, and often I get results from Stack Overflow. That's a good thing, of course.

Recently, however, a lot of these results are pointing to URLs like stackoverflow.com/questions?page=3&sort=newest that have a low probability of actually presenting the relevant post. Worse, the search vendor's result format rarely shows the actual title of the question, so there's often nothing to search the page for on the Stack Overflow-side.

Here's another marginally related question with an image that illustrates the issue.

Google search results for a particular phrase are returning a lot of broken links

Basically, Stack Overflow is contributing a lot of high-quality information to these search engines, but in a manner that is nearly unusable - like landing you on the home page. Is there anything you could do to make your results on vendor engines friendlier?

EDIT: As per request, here's a random example.

  • 2
    Can you link me to a google search that shows this? I have not seen this happen at all. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 2:10
  • I had a discussion about it with balpha in the comments of his answer at Improper use of rel=canonical is hurting search, and he was not too surprised when search results shows pages filtered by tags, which is different from the URL you're seeing. (Fun search result: Newest Questions - Page 37273...)
    – Arjan
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 5:44
  • @RichardJ.RossIII The next time I run into it, sure. I don't have time now to 'craft' a result. There are two links in this thread which have screenshots that represent the issue well - the comment above by Arjan, and my original post. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 13:11
  • @RichardJ.RossIII: Added an example screenshot. Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 12:53
  • Your example for "c#" serializable preferences "multiple types" site:stackoverflow.com shows pages filtered by tags, like "Newest 'serialization' Questions - Page 98", rather than /questions?page=3&sort=newest. Of course, neither are useful at all (worse, one needs Google's cache to see the old page). But apparently the tag-related URLs are (or: were) fine with the team. (I see them too, but maybe only when my search is too limited/too specific.) If you ever find a query that returns the "All Questions" page, then be sure to post it here!
    – Arjan
    Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 14:28

1 Answer 1


You're right.

Search engine optimization (SEO) rules are clear on that, as Wikipedia points out.

But there are some best practices already implemented. Here is an example of headers:

<!-- language: lang-html -->
<meta name="relativepagescore" content="44159">
<link rel="canonical" href="http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/135885/better-google-and-bing-search-results-from-stackoverflow">

But there are some real lacks (or this is intended).

We should find:

  • A relevant title (it is)
  • Keywords (very very easy, just put in tags!)
  • A description (hmmm, not so easy to implement, this is a real WCM concern)
  • Normalize the URL
  • Using a relevant HTML structure
    • <h1> one time, close (in semantic) from title (that's done)
    • ...

This is a real work, larger than link persistence. But it really should be set up :)

  • 1
    I think there's little, if anything, we can teach the SE crew about SEO. Like see also Kevin's answer in Does Google special-case for Stack Overflow?, about using <div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article">.
    – Arjan
    Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 10:57
  • I don't really understand how this is related to the question. The OP complained about useless index/search-result kind of pages being indexed. Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 13:28

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