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Here's an example of a Google search result where the text from the excerpt is nowhere to be found on that page.

alt text

Why does this happen?

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The list is hidden. Select full list of downloads for your platform. and you will see what you are looking for. –  phwd Jul 11 '10 at 20:21
3  
No need to close, just change the title into something less of a rant ;-) –  Ivo Flipse Jul 11 '10 at 21:04
    
@Ivo - unfortunately I don't have edit privileges yet. –  ChrisF Jul 11 '10 at 22:05
    
Google only fibs they do not lie. –  Brian R. Bondy Jul 11 '10 at 22:50
1  
I can't see how this is closed as 'not a real question.' It may be that it isn't a sophisticated question, or the OP doesn't seem like the web-app 'power-user' that we hope to attract, but is seems that the question has been ostensibly answerable. –  Eric Wilson Jul 12 '10 at 7:51

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It's not lying.

The content could be from a cached version of the page. However, in this case if you view the source for that page you find the following:

<div style="font-size:18px;font-weight:bold;padding:5px 10px;width:420px;
 border:1px solid #bcbcbc;background:#FFFFAF;"><a name="windowsffport">
 LastPass Portable for Firefox</a></div>

There are actually 27 instances of the word "Portable" on the page. It's just that the text isn't visible on the default "Recommended" tab of that page. If you click on the "Windows" tab that text becomes visible.

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The description (which is sometimes out of date) is taken and stored in Google's cache and not directly from the site. The page can very well change from the time the page is cached. Also it's possible that the description is from a section of the page that is not visible (for example hidden div until some action is performed).

Why does Google display descriptions from cache instead of from the live site?

Imagine if every time someone searched, Google had to make a request to your page to get the actual live content. This would mean much more traffic and a lot slower results.

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