Can Google search webpages from the future?

I know Google can do a lot of things and that it can do them wonderfully well. But I never knew that Google can index posts from the future!!

Well not really. Today, the 9th day of February 2011, I was searching for “total number of countries in the world” on Google and here is what it came up with.

google-date

When I saw the date in front of the first result, I was taken aback. Was I really seeing the date as ‘9 Jul 2011’. Today is only 9th of Feb 2011 and Google is suggesting a page 5 months in the future.

There are diverse views as to what the date in front of links in the Google search result page indicates. Some say it is the date the web page was published. Others say it is the date that Google bots first indexed the page. Obviously neither could be true in the above case.

Then where did Google come up with the date 9 Jul 2011?

Opening the destination page reveals the answer. The news article was published on Feb 7,2011. But right there in the introduction to the article there is this line:

However, the declaration of independence is not expected for South Sudan until July 9, 2011. At that point, this page will be updated.

google indexes future webpages

It appears that somehow, Google goofed up and recognized this date as the date of the post.

That being the case, it appears that the date that appears in the search results page actually indicates the date the webpage or the post was published because only then Google would have to depend on the date that appears on the page. If it were to indicate the date the webpage was first indexed or last indexed, then Google needn’t bother about whatever dates appear in the page text.

As for my original search for the “total number of countries in the world”, it looks like there are more than one opinion on this too. The United States’ State Department recognizes 194 independent countries around the world. For now, I will settle for that.

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