A friend of mine was searching for the keyword “Google” on Google.com.eg (Egypt) when He found something very weird and told me to check it out. I have to say this drove me crazy for the last 7 hours and I couldn’t find any reasonable explanation so I’m here to share this myth with you.
Guess who comes at the #1 spot when you search for the keyword “Google” from any Egyptian IP address? Well, See it yourself:
This Egyptian HVAC Technician is ranking #1 in organic search results with a Google Places listing that outranks Google’s own knowledge graph snippet. His business name doesn’t even include the keyword or in any way related.
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I thought maybe me and my friend were just seeing some personalized results (still not a reasonable explanation.) Anyway, I asked 4 friends of mine to search for both the keywords “Google” and “جوجل” (Google in Arabic letters) and tell me if they saw this weird listing or not, They all told me he is ranking #1 for “Google” and #2 for “جوجل” Some of them even tested Desktop and Mobile search and got the same results.
Now that I know this is a country-wide ranking, I told myself It must be a short-time “glitch” not a consistent ranking. But, If you clicked on the “See photos” link under the guy’s photo, You will go to his Google Plus page. I knew that Google Plus publicly declare how many views each page received.
So, I clicked to check the number of views and I was shocked again. His page had received 3,550,628 views which is a sign that his top ranking spot has been there for a while. BTW, He doesn’t post anything interesting, just some photos of the appliances he could fix. Anyway, Google Plus is among the least used social networks in Egypt so there is definitely no way that he got these millions of views through organic reach on Google Plus.
Note: It took me around 45 minutes to write this post during which his page received an extra 86,000 views after I took this screenshot. You can check his current page views here.
I know there is no such thing as a “flawless algorithm.” But, Why would Google think that this HVAC technician’s page is the most relevant thing to show when people search for Google’s exact-match brand keyword?! I actually believe that “Google” is the most difficult keyword to rank for. Nobody should be able to outrank Google for this keyword no matter what.
I spent a couple of hours trying to find any link between this listing and the keyword “Google.” Here is the only thing I was able to find; It looks like Mr. Saber entered this page in the Website URL field on his Google Plus profile. It is just a link to a Google Search for his Twitter handle. But I’m sure this is not the reason. At least It should never be.
Enough digging. Just call the guy!
After hours of confusion, I decided to contact Mr. Saber to see if he even knows that he is outranking Google. I got my phone, called him and I have to say this; I will never forget this call for the rest of my life. It was hilarious. Here’s how It went:
— Hello, Is this Mr. Saber?
— Yes, Who are you?
— My name is Eyad Nour. I work in the field of Digital Marketing and I noticed that you’re ranking #1 on Google. Do you know this?
— Yes, A lot of people call me and tell me that Google made a website about me.
— No, I mean Google Search. When people search for the word “Google”, You come first. Do you know that?
— No. I just find people calling me and telling me they saw “my google.”
— So, You never tried to do anything to promote your page?
— What page?
— Your page on Google Plus?
— No, I just published it using my email which was created back in 2009 that’s why I get a lot of people visiting my profile. Because of I have old email there.
— Actually, I think It takes more than that. What happened with you is very rare. You are ranking #1 for the word “google” on their own website which I never saw in my life. You are ranking above Google itself.
— So people think I am the “mother company” of Google? *Laughing loud* This is great. I never thought about that. It all started a week ago when I noticed a lot of people calling me everyday. Sometimes I even turn off my phone so I can sleep. Actually, Most of them doesn’t even know what I do but maybe you can teach me how to get more people?
— I teach you?! You’re the master now. You teach me, master! I was calling you so you can show me how you did it.
— *He laughing for 10 seconds* You look like a funny person. I think we both could be friends. Look, You can come to my place at _______ St. and then we can smoke a couple of hash joints together and I will let you look into my computer to find what I did. Maybe I clicked on something by mistake.
— *Me laughing* I wish It was that easy. We can’t find the reason for this on your computer files. Anyway, I do really appreciate your time and feel free to call me anytime if you need advice. I wish you the best.
— Thank You, my friend. I will save your number right now and call you later.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have found my master. All hail the king. He is more “Google” than Google. ☺
I’m eager to hear your comments about this. Let me know if you see the irony here. Also, if you have any reasonable explanation for this, please let me know… I won’t be able to go on with my life like this.
Just start a conversation about this with your marketing peeps or submit it to your favorite subreddit of fellow geeks. Let’s see if we can solve this myth. Feel free to mention @eyadnour if you want me to join in.
I will be updating this article with any reasonable explanations you will suggest.
Update #1: This explanation was provided by someone who asked not to mention his name:
I think the rel=”contributor-to” might be affecting something as well, I didn’t even know that attribute value existed. I’m not sure if you can manually set that in Google+ when setting the URL or how that value is determined.
Good catch and writeup. I’d bet this technique can be applied to other sites, so hopefully Google gets this fully understood and fixed.