Unusual Activity Detected in Google’s Search Results

  • June 11, 2024
  • SEO
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There is a persistent concern regarding the accuracy and relevance of Google’s search results, but the situation surrounding search queries involving the acronym “SEO” is exceptionally peculiar and warrants detailed examination.

Anomalies in Search Results

An anomaly refers to something that deviates from the usual or expected outcome. Commonly, when inaccuracies or inconsistencies appear in the search engine results pages (SERPs), they can be rationalized. For instance, queries that combine geographical information with a very specific phrase often result in unusual outcomes. Another frequent cause of abnormal search results is insufficient data for a particular combination of words, which occasionally leads to inappropriate or unexpected results.

The issue with the specific keyword phrases related to “SEO” is unlike the usual anomalies. This situation presents a genuine anomaly that is unprecedented.

Key Phrases Affected:

  • SEO program
  • What is an SEO program?
  • SEO New York (City)
  • SEO Conference
  • SEO Events
  • SEO Education
  • SEO Awards
  • SEO-USA.Org

The website that ranks for all these keyword phrases is SEO-USA.org. Here, the acronym SEO stands for Sponsors for Educational Opportunity. This is not a phishing or spam website; it is a legitimate and longstanding nonprofit organization established in 1963. The organization’s mission is to provide mentoring and support to underserved youth to help them gain admission to colleges and universities. Over time, this evolved into the SEO Scholars program, an eight-year academic program designed to support talented young people through high school and college.

“SEO Scholars creates a more equitable society by closing the academic opportunity gap for motivated young people, setting the standard for academics, mentorship, community, peer-to-peer support, and a powerful, lifelong network.”

SEO-USA.org Is Not Relevant to Search Engine Optimization

The acronym SEO is predominantly associated with online marketing and search engine optimization. A search for “SEO” on Google yields results that are universally relevant to digital marketing. According to Google Trends, the terms SEO Scholars and SEO Scholars Application are not widely searched within the United States, with most searches originating in New York. However, SEO-USA.org ranks highly for various SEO key phrases in regions outside of New York, which is unusual.

Example Search Results for “SEO Awards”

It is evident that SEO-USA.org does not align with the most commonly recognized meaning of the acronym SEO in the context of search engine optimization.

Could Backlinks Be the Reason?

One speculation is that SEO-USA.org ranks for these phrases due to its backlinks. A domain-specific search reveals that nearly seventy .edu websites link to SEO-USA.org.

Use the following advanced search to view the number of .edu sites linking to SEO-USA.org:

"seo-usa.org" site:.edu"

Example of .EDU Site Links Search

Additionally, there are numerous high-quality sites with .org domains linking to SEO-USA.org, as seen through the following advanced search:

"seo-usa.org" site:.org -site:seo-usa.org"

On the surface, it appears plausible that backlinks contribute to SEO-USA.org’s rankings for irrelevant keywords.

Nevertheless, the most obvious answer isn’t always the correct one. The situation is more complex.

Why Links Probably Don’t Explain the Rankings

If backlinks were the sole reason for SEO-USA.org’s rankings, it would imply that various other SEO-related keyword phrases would be dominated by .edu and .org websites, which isn’t the case.

With over 25 years in the SEO industry, the historical context reveals that websites with high PageRank used to rank highly for numerous terms. Similarly, .edu links were powerful tools in achieving good rankings. However, Google’s algorithms have evolved to prioritize link context. Factors like the title element and surrounding text now significantly influence link value. Moreover, algorithmic changes have diminished the impact of sheer link volume, emphasizing the quality and relevance of links rather than quantity.

The evolution of these algorithms suggests that the current backlink scenario might not entirely explain SEO-USA.org’s rankings.

What’s the Answer?

It appears a relevance factor is not functioning effectively, which allows SEO-USA.org to rank for keywords it typically shouldn’t. This gap may signify a missing variable in Google’s algorithm—potentially related to trustworthiness or another factor not yet identified.

This remains speculative, and additional insights are welcome to better understand this phenomenon.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/SS 360

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