Super Sleuthing Page Age
This is a guest post by Annie Cushing and the final part of a series of guest posts featured on the Bruce Clay, Inc. blog all week long. Annie shares a little known trick to uncover the age of a Web page. Read on and enjoy!
Most professionals in the SEO industry are well versed in how to assess a site’s age. That’s been well documented. You can use any one of the fine SEO plug-ins out there. A fave of mine is SEO Book’s SEO for Firefox. But you could use Webconfs.com’s bulk domain age checker or go old skool with a good WhoIs service.
But enough splashing around in the shallow end of the SEO pool. Let’s say you need the find out the age of a particular page on a site. There are several reasons you might need to find this out:
- To see if the advice being offered on the page is outdated. I should have taken my own advice just past weekend. I was doing a search for how create a custom 404 error page in my Thesis theme for a client’s site because I was spinning my wheels and getting mud all over myself. I’m pretty much a Thesis tard and know just enough to hobble along, but I didn’t think my attorney client would want a 404 page that sports the words gnarly or dude. After unsuccessfully going through several different tutorials online (that didn’t specify which version of Thesis they were written for), I discovered a really simple solution that must have specifically written for Thesis 1.7 because everything was just as he said. In retrospect, I should have checked the page age of some of those pages to get an idea for how old they were before wasting my time tinkering with my gnarly php code.
- To do competitive analysis. Let’s say I’m doing competitive analysis for a client, and I see that one of her competitors has a white-hot landing page with 2000+ backlinks. If the page is talking about coolest apps for the iPad, I can obviously assume that this is a newer page and that the competitor has gained backlinks fast — either as a result of an aggressive link-building campaign or because the content went viral. But if the content isn’t suggestive of a particular time period (let’s say it lists best sites to find coupons online), I may want to know the page’s age to see if it’s just accrued links naturally over the years and is also ranking well because it’s old or if the competitor is progressing because of guerilla marketing efforts.
- To protect yourself from a copyright claim. Let’s say you write a tutorial for how to switch out faces in Photoshop. Later someone hits you up with a cease and desist letter with a claim that you scraped your awesome tutorial from your competitor’s site. If you don’t have your page date stamped because you don’t want Google to advertise your tutorial as being two years old (hat tip to Michael Gray who proffered that tip at Search & Social Spring Summit) but you want to prove you published your tutorial before your egomaniacal opponent, you can use this technique to make Google display the publication date for each of the pages.
- To find out when someone last updated their Twitter or Facebook fan page. Let’s say you want to know when Vince Blackham first started representing himself with a shirtless pic of Tom Selleck on Twitter or when I inserted myself into a God-awful New Moon poster. (Some people just have to play.) Can’t imagine WHY you’d want to know either of these things, but I’m sure you can deduce a useful application. For one, if you want to find out when someone joined Twitter (provided they don’t play with their avatar and settings, thus resetting the publication date), you could use this method.
Okay, enough pontificating over why you might want to find out a page’s age and more talking about how to do it.
Note: I’m going to demonstrate these steps with a site that has a tutorial showing how to switch out faces, but that’s just because I made myself curious with the reference. This site is not accused of such deplorable scraping tactics, that I’m aware of. </disclaimer>
- Go to google.com and paste the URL you want to check into the search box.
- Insert the inurl: operator in front of the URL (no spaces) and click the Search button.
- Click in your browser’s address bar and navigate to the end of the resulting URL. In Firefox, I just click the address once to highlight it, then hit the right arrow key on my keyboard to quickly get to the end and deselect the URL so I can add to the URL without overwriting it.
- Paste this little magical parameter at the end of the URL: &as_qdr=y15. Don’t ask me how I remember this or where I found this trick. Or why it works, for that matter. I’m not a propeller head; I’m a super sleuth. In my example, the resultant URL looks like this:
- Voila. You will see the date appear before the listing.
I wish I could say this technique was foolproof and worked for every page indexed in Google’s database. Alas, it doesn’t. It appears to work more predictably with pages that reach a certain threshold of popularity.
Happy sleuthing, gumshoes!