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Well everyone, we have a fun discovery on our hands.

Yesterday about 3pm I noticed the title had changed. My friend Tom Harari linked to my recaps using the anchor text “John Doherty’s Epic Recap of the London #Linklove Conference”. This went live on Tuesday morning. Wednesday at 3pm, this is what I saw as my title:

Hmm. Why is this? My thought is that since Tom’s link has my name earlier in the page title than the Distilled link, his link was given priority. One interesting thing to note is that his site is brand new (launched on Tuesday) and had not even cached at this point.

Distilled’s anchor text was taken over by a brand new site.

Today I looked at the poll from the past two days on this post, and the most people voted to have me “Ask others to add links to the post.” This is what I did. The following are the links that were added (note that most have not cached):

Links to the post, 5 added on April 6-7

I decided to sit for a while and see what would happen.

At 6pm on Thursday, things got interesting.

First, I did a search for  “John Doherty”. This is what I saw:

Ok, that seems normal enough.

Now I search for “John F Doherty”:

John F Doherty Search

Woah! It changed! After opening up all of the added links, all I can figure is that the title is now pulling from underneath the title (these were supposed to be no-followed):

Could the text be pulling from under the title?

That’s definitely not an H1 tag. So what is going on?

Furthermore, that is a local result. When I search “John Doherty” and get personalized results, I see this:

John Doherty Local Search

But when I do a custom search, that is location agnostic (thanks Justin Briggs for the post on SEOmoz about this), I see this:

Google location agnostic search results for "John Doherty"

Oh brother…

Things Continued To Get Weird

My Twitter contact @AndilM from Kent, England pointed out that when you search “Epic Recap” you get this:

Epic Recap Search - The Correct Title!

Then when you search “Epic Recap John Doherty”, you get the “2 Comments” result:

Epic Recap John Doherty search

Conclusion

I have no conclusions at this point. In fact, I am THOROUGHLY confused. I am going to let it sit for another day or two and see what happens. Then I plan to implement the “rel=me” meta tag on my social bookmark links on the site. I am going to point it internally to my homepage, as that is what I would like to show when you search “John Doherty.”

Any thoughts?

This is Eric Marshall’s (@_ericm on Twitter) thought:

I'm inclined to agree

On Monday, my post entitled “How Distilled Stole My Page Title” went around the Twittersphere. It was interesting to see the feedback and there were a lot of comments from a lot of people I respect. Read the comments here.

Now I run into an issue. I’ve never confronted something like this before, and I want to test in order to see what will cause the page title to change back in Google.

I need your help testing

How should I proceed with the testing? The first test is already in place. I unapproved the comments that Jen from SEOmoz thinks may have been contributing:

This test has been in place for 24 hours. It does not seem that Google has cached the page yet, but according to @rosshudgens:

The title has changed a bit. You can see that there is now a new “- The” in the title:

Compare to before:

I am going to run this test until tomorrow morning. Now the question becomes “What do I test next?”

Take the poll and help me out!

What Should I Test?

  • Request others to add links to the post with anchor text (40%, 4 Votes)
  • Ask Distilled to change the anchor text (30%, 3 Votes)
  • Apply both NOODP and NOYDIR to the site (20%, 2 Votes)
  • Get lots of people to search "John Doherty Distilled Linklove Conference" (suggestion via @billsebald) (10%, 1 Votes)
  • Apply NOODP to the site (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Apply NOYDIR to the site (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Other (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 10

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If you select “Other”, please tell me in the comments what you suggest.

Thanks everyone! I’ll be publishing my findings once all this is done!