Why do I appear as number 1 in Google for random queries?
If you've ever taken the time to examine your Google Search Query reports or seen it in your eLignum Website Performance Dashboard, you may have been surprised to see yourself ranked as number 1 for bizarre search phrases like "Elephant Hire", something that your Stationery Outlet hasn't got round to providing just yet. So what is going on here? Do you need to ditch the flowery pads and the fountain-pens and become a mahout? Unfortunately no, and here's why...
The first thing to understand is that the report shows the average position that your site appeared for a particular given query. This is not the same as a page rank (named after Larry Page apparently!) which provides a ranking of a website's overall importance.
For search queries, don't think of Google as a website ranking machine that holds a big list of websites ranked by importance for each possible query. Results are returned on the fly and are constantly shifting and changing. Did you know that there are 3 billion Google Searches a day and around 500 million of them have never been made on Google before? The result is that for a fleeting moment, you may appear in one of these 3 Billion searches in the number 1 position for a totally random word that just happened to be in the article you just blogged. This is recorded by Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools and then shows up in your query results. Query that phrase now in Google, you will be unlikely to see your site in the results.
Search Queries that have generated many Impressions will provide much more accurate indications of where you appear in search results. They will show the average position for the top performing page. You can use this information to gauge how well your site's content is performing in attracting customers through search and therefore how it is contributing to your site's overall goal. Combine this with the Content Keywords result in Webmaster Tools and you should get an idea of the type of thing you need to include in your next blog to figure in your desired search query.
So don't worry about the odd random freak outlier phrase turning up in your results. But do keep looking at the report, use it wisely to strategise your content production to maintain a healthy presence in Google.
You can find the report in Google Analytics under: Aquisition - SEO - Search Queries
or Google Webmaster Tools: Search Traffic - Search Queries
What strange search terms have you found on your site?