How One Man Outranked Google
Google is the most popular search engine in the Western world, and it should be safe to assume that if you search for Google, on Google, you would get a link to something to do with the search engine itself – but for a brief period recently that was not the case, at least not in certain countries.
If you searched for “Google” using an Egyptian IP address, you would get a link to the Google Places listing of an Egyptian HVAC technician. This outranks not just Google’s own internal links but even their “knowledge graph” snippet, in spite of the listing not including the word Google, or anything else that obviously explains why the site is ranked in that way. Mr Saber, the owner of the page, became a celebrity in SEO circles overnight, but maintains that he had no idea what he had done or why his profile had managed to earn such high rankings in the Egyptian-focused Google search results pages.
A Happy Accident
It turns out that the reason behind the erroneous ranking was an experimental algorithm that Google had been testing. The search engine is always looking for new ways to manage the rankings of websites, trying to move beyond the simple “links and keywords” model. They have tried things such as video recognition and neural networks, fact-based rankings and many other techniques. Some of those techniques affect just a small percentage of search queries, while others, such as the Mobilegeddon update, have a much wider reach.
The HVAC repair person associated his Google Plus profile with his location – not to deliberately exploit the algorithm, but because it seemed like a logical thing for him to do, as he was not savvy about online marketing, and that’s what caused the erroneously high ranking. When he was contacted by search marketing sites wanting to know his secret, he was simply bemused because he had not been trying to do anything unusual. He said that he had created the page back in 2009 and had done no real promotion work on it.
If Only It Were Always That Easy
A couple of other businesses managed to achieve similar rankings, for a time, before the algorithm was fixed. As you can imagine, those rankings were temporary. If you want long-lasting high rankings, then traditional SEO is the way to go.The story of the air-conditioning repair man who outsmarted the biggest search engine in the world is a nice curiosity, but for most small-business owners picking a local company such as www.polarthewebpeople.co.uk that offers web design in Huntingdon and working with them to achieve great rankings is the way to go.
SEO is a complex field, and it takes a combination of a good design, good content and a good promotion strategy to get to the top of the SERPs. Our Egyptian friend found a loophole by chance, but those loopholes won’t always be there to exploit.