How does Stack Overflow work so well with search engines? It's really amazing; if I post a question, it'll show up in Google's search results within 15-30 minutes!

What are the tricks? sitemap.xml? Or, any other good methods?

Help me, and others too, if anyone knows a good technique/method.

  • 6
    +1 - I've noticed this too... great question.
    – James Skidmore
    Jul 26, 2009 at 6:43
  • 1
    Just waiting to see how long it takes for this question to show up in Google...
    – James Skidmore
    Jul 26, 2009 at 6:45
  • 21
    Jon Skeet (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/9134/jon-skeet-facts/9689#9689) works at Google ...
    – Thilo
    Jul 26, 2009 at 6:56
  • 2
    @Thilo I hope that explanation is a joke Jul 26, 2009 at 20:33
  • 18
    @JonSkeet this month's cheque is in the mail. OOPS DID I SAY THAT OUT LOUD!! Jul 31, 2009 at 9:12
  • I notice that if I am logged into Google, results from SO are rated highly. If I am NOT logged into Google, results from SO are not always rated as high. Jul 12, 2010 at 17:24
  • 4
    If you're logged into Google, it considers your previous searches and guesses what you want to see.
    – xpda
    Aug 30, 2011 at 14:32
  • A side of this is, the first google result of a simple question often links to a stack exchange question with a comment of "why don't you google that"
    – JonnyWizz
    Nov 26, 2015 at 19:30

4 Answers 4


I believe they don't do anything specific. Instead, they managed to get into a list of high-ranked relevant sites which get polled by Google frequently.

  • 5
    That's correct, the higher the page rank the more frequently the site is crawled.
    – CptSkippy
    Jul 26, 2009 at 6:49
  • 1
    Many people link to the site, it's high-traffic, highly relevant, highly targeted, well marked up, and the site is crawled very often. That's about as good as you can hope for. Jul 26, 2009 at 8:19
  • 5
    Not fully correct, they have a sitemap.xml which includes every question for example.
    – gs
    Jul 26, 2009 at 8:20
  • @gs : i checked for the sitemap.xml file but it is not present at the root path. but i think there should be a chance to locate sitemap in another localtion, and they will submit the sitemap in direct ping method to the search engine. what you think ?
    – midhund
    Jul 26, 2009 at 8:40
  • 2
    According to the stackoverflow.com/robots.txt it should be there. Maybe it is restricted to google bots only (by IPs or user-agent or something)?
    – Ivan Dubrov
    Jul 26, 2009 at 9:07
  • 3
    It's probably restricted, that's going to be a huge map, and they probably don't want anybody doesn't actually need it to use it. It's also worth noting that googlebot will ignore many of the rules that other crawler bots follow.
    – Sneakyness
    Jul 26, 2009 at 10:30
  • 9
    Sorry, this is not a helpful answer. Fair enough there is no secret magic SEO bullet, but they do tons of specific things which help people find great info easily, and as a by-product, help the site to rank well with search engines. And to make out like there is some single super exclusive 'list of high-ranked relevant sites...' is a massive over simplification. See Google SEO Overview ( google.com/support/webmasters/bin/…) and Google WebMaster Guidelines (google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769) for more info.
    – Dhaust
    Jul 27, 2009 at 6:51
  • Hey @David that's sweet. I still wonder what are those "specific things" actually applied here on SO, tho.
    – cregox
    Mar 12, 2010 at 18:14

You can inform google of an update to the xml feed, using http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ping?sitemap=SITEMAP_URL, which is what All-in-one-SEO-pack for Wordpress does, for example.

I don't know if SO even needs to do this but I'm sure they could if Google wasn't spidering them often enough.


The best things you can do are to keep your website relevant, simple, and neat.

Do you see a list of meta-tagged keywords in this website's source? Nope.

Look at the website visually. It's easy to read, easy to understand.

Look at the website's code, it's just as easy to read and understand.

Feeds also help, there's one for every question.

  • 1
    If you do these things right, and hold a reputation for being good for whatever your website is, people will talk about it, people will link it.
    – Sneakyness
    Jul 26, 2009 at 7:12

Google makes use of atom/rss feeds. It polls them frequently to find new material. Google throttles their bandwidth spent per day spidering sites, so you benefit from telling google as much as possible with as few bytes as possible.

As you can see, almost every page has an link rel=alternate feed url.

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