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I did a Google search for someone's name and after clicking on one of the results links, could not find the name anywhere on the live page. I also used Ctrl + F to find the name but again, could not find it anywhere on the live page.

I submitted a removal request for the name, but it was denied because Google said "The cached copy of this page has already been removed from our search results."

Later I did another search for the same name and the results showed the same link with the same name. The name is not in the title or the URL. Although the name is not appearing in the live page or the cached page, why would it continue to show up in the search results?

I have cleared my computer's cache, browsing history, etc.

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3 Answers 3

Google search index contains the information that the Googlebot found when it visited the page. When you search, you're searching against Google's index, not the actual content of the page.

Most likely, the page's content has changed since Googlebot last visited. The new content won't find its way into Google's index until it's re-indexed.

Other possible, but less likely explanations:

  • The string you're looking for isn't in the visible text, but is in the HTML that makes up the page
  • The site may be set up to display different data to Googlebot than to regular visitors. This used to be a fairly common blackhat SEO technique, but is much less common now. (It's also against Google's rules and if they catch you you'll be flagged as a web spammer.)
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Al E's answer is correct for why this happens, but I wanted to add the fact that you can usually view the version of the page that Google crawled by clicking the dropdown at the end of the link and selecting Cached.

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Not all sites have a cached view available. You can also try checking out www.archive.org, which caches a lot of sites out there, keeping multiple copies of each site at different times in their history.

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It's possible (without being given the specifics) that the site is being returned based on pages linking to it.

Google and other search engines will often return/rank pages based on the anchor text used to link to a page. Even if a term does not appear anywhere within the actual page, it can be associated with a subject indirectly.

This behavior has been exploited in the past to perform what is known as a Google Bomb. The most famous, of course, being the "George Bush Google Bomb" where the term "miserable failure" was used to link to his official bio. The term "miserable failure" was obviously not used anywhere in the official White House biography for the president, but the search engines had been gamed into returning that page.

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