Case Study: A Mysterious Google Search For Fave

Hey! I’m Dan...

You may recognize me from Twitter or other SEO communities around the web like SEOmoz. If not, nice to meet you! I run Evolving SEO in Massachusetts. Just like to thank Tom Critchlow for offering me the opportunity to guest post on the Distilled site. This is my first guest post ever. I hope I fulfill your expectations!

Tom Suggested I Write About This Google Search For “Fave”

It all started on a recent Wednesday. I went down to NYC for the Distilled SEO for E-Commerce Meetup. Tom and I were chatting. He had recently read my post on some weird IMDB results in Bing and thought I’d be gullible (ummm... I mean excited) enough to write about this strange Google search for “fave”:

What we both found strange about it was:

  • The page had no page authority
  • Google did not suggest a spell correction
  • The amount of search volume for “fave” (you’ll have to view the slideshow for that)
I had a lot of questions:
  • Did the result have something to do with “fave” being the beginning of a misspelling for “facebook”?
  • Was there something else that SHOULD rank for “fave” that wasn’t?
  • How COULD something else rank for “fave” if you wanted it to?
  • And importantly, what can we LEARN from this and apply in practice?
I love these sorts of indexation mysteries, so naturally I thought it was a fantastic idea, thanks for letting me take the wheel on this one Tom!

Like my post on IMDB, this seemed to present best via slideshow - so get your forward and back buttons ready, and check out what I found! Its a nail biter! I’ve included some extra info and resources below:

Three Step Approach

I break my approach into a three step hierarchy:

1. Does this matter? - If there’s not many searches for “fave” or search intent is too generalized across users, than it doesn’t matter so much we’re getting weird search results. 2. WHY do things rank like this? - Once we know it matters, I want to know what’s causing it to rank like that? There must be something beneath the surface. 3. What can we learn from this? - Finally, it a cause is identified, how can we learn from this? What can we learn about the SEO research/diagnostic process? And are there any takeaways for leveraging the findings to apply to real life situations?

Links To Resources Used

Where Can You Find Me Next...?


March 19 - 23 - SES NYC. I will be part of a sponsored session doing a live site review and a case study. Exact day/time TBD.

April 2nd, 2012 - I will be at LinkLove Boston / Atlantic as an attendee. You should come!!!

The ‘Net

I’ll be branching out to YouMoz! Starting with an update to this post Rand did a while back on more weird Google results. Didn’t ask him, so hopefully he won’t mind :-)

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  1. Awesome, and highly entertaining post Dan! A fantastic reminder to check a variety of data sources before jumping to conclusions. Excellent stuff.

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  2. You hadn't of worried Dan, you nailed this post!

    With things like this I always take the approach of "If at first you try and don't succeed, you need to look harder". There is almost always a reason for these anomalies but like Doug said, check a variety of data sources before jumping to conclusions.

    (P.s noticed my ugly mug in the slides...thanks for that :P )

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  3. Slide 47 was great. Especially the part at the very bottom.

    Nice work Dan. One link is definitely all it takes when you are on a domain like Facebook.

    Reputation management tip: Register your company name on every social media site. Even if you don't intend to use it. You never know when you might need the ability to push something up in the SERPs.

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    • Ha! Thanks - now you know what the experiment was :-)

      You're absolutely right, registering on all the relevant social networks is important, and it goes without saying at this point for most, that KnowEm is the best service to do this painlessly.

  4. Tom Critchlow

    Thanks so much for this post Dan - love it. Love the analysis and the ppt format is excellent for crafting a story! Excellent work.

    Love the investigation - you may be right about the single link though I'd love to investigate deeper (especially on those yuit type searches) as I'm not totally convinced there isn't some intent stuff going on here by Google. They know that when you search "fave" you want to end up on Facebook....

    Fascinating stuff. Moar please :)

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    • Thanks for the idea and kind words! Absolutely, when we first spoke about it, we did touch upon the idea of Google relating some kind of Facebook result to 'fave' even if not being the homepage, as well with the other results (like the YouTube one). The investigation did take a bit of a twist, so I would too love to look into the whole intent idea further, especially because we were able to find several other cases where something similar happens.

      More?? Geez! I think I'm gonna go take a nap first... haha. PLENTY more to come, don't you worry 'bout that!!

  5. Great information and a great way to present it. Looks like you had fun during your investigation and in your composing of this post/slideshow. Posts like this remind me that a bit of knowledge and a whole lot of determination is all you really need to get the ball moving in the right direction.

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  6. davexooj vs. facebook

    Try swiping "facebook" on a "Swype" keyboard -

    Those two words match the same route/pattern.

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    • Hi, wow, I've never seen one of those! Yes, that's exactly the concept, all the consonants are one spot off. This would be an interesting post all in its self, to see how far off you could go specially on the keyboard and see if there's some kind of spell check going on based upon the nearness of letters on a keypad.

  7. NOT a SEO guru by ANY means and I think your slides just taught me more about what the "big kids" do than anything else I've ever seen. Seriously - that was fantastic. Thanks so much for putting together and sharing!

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    • Hey thanks!! I'm sure you already have, but have a look around the rest of Distilled's blog - I've seriously learned a lot of what I know in the past few years from this site! Case studies are fun, because you do get to see a sort of 'behind the scenes' look at how one SEO might tackle something like this.

  8. As always, highly entertaining and excellent post. Sitting on my edge of my seat waiting for your next one!

    Really interesting - next step is to get this post ranking for it =).

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    • Thanks Corey!

      My next one will be a YouMoz, although a different topic than I originally thought (as mentioned above)... should be within the next week! It'll be entertaining I hope but a bit more of a good ol' tutorial style.

  9. Thanks for that, as a diy seo guy for my website it is good to get an indepth case study that i can apply to my situation. It genuinely lets me see the how and why so I can assess our position better. Thx again :)

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  10. Nice post Dan! I have to admit when I first saw it I thought there is no freaking way I'm going to go through 118 slides. But it was actually pretty entertaining, so good for you.

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    • Haha, thanks Adam! I know, I was worried about that, but honestly, I flipped through the slideshow myself about 10 times for about a week trying to put myself in the shoes of the viewer, and wasn't too bored, so I ran with it :-)

  11. Good stuff Dan.

    Love how you've quantified a method for excellent SEO detective work. House analogy is so spot-on.

    We should do a video short of a bunch of SEOs acting out a short House ep.

    I get to be House though ;)

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    • Hey Mike

      Thanks, yes, its interesting... what often feels like a chaotic, OCD driven, caffeinated charge to find the answer actually does have a method when I step back analyze the thought process. DUDE! A video would be SICK! I'll come to NYC anytime to shoot it. You can be House as long as I'm not a dead guy.


  12. Guys! Bill Slawski left a fascinating analysis of what's happening at a much deeper level on this Google Plus thread, comment 4.... it's a "must check out"!!!

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