I’ve seen some pretty weird results and a lot of fluctuations on Google over the last week or so (actually over the last few years but most recently in the last week or two). Changes within the search engine have meant there have been more US results appearing in Google UK. Whilst this suggests changes to the way Google perceives certain queries from a geographic point of view, the results have tended to be pretty relevant to the query.
Well, not in this case. I’d love to find out what is causing this particular result.
I’m a proud fan of Hibernian Football Club, a medium sized football club who play in the Scottish Premier League. I also blog about them from time to time and keep an occasional eye on the search results for the main Hibernian search terms “hibernian football club”, “hibernian”, “hibs” and “easter road” (the name of the stadium.)
Last week the strangest result appeared near the top in Google for all of these search terms. It’s the web site of a German airfield Flugplatz Bielefeld. A very unassuming, basic, frame heavy site – there’s nothing spammy going on that I can find but most interestingly – absolutely no connection to Hibs. There isn’t a single connected word anywhere on the site and nothing seems to translate from German to anything even vaguely related. Yet it has come from nowwhere to rank in the top five for all the main Hibs terms. It’s a bit of a jump from “Hibernian” to “Easter Road” for a site about a German airfield but the Google algorithm genuinely thinks this is a relevant result for “Hibernian Football Club”, related terms and synonyms.
So confident is Google that you were looking for a small airfield in Eastern Westphalia, Germany when you typed “hibernian football club” that the result even comes with Google’s new inline sitelinks!
I did some more digging and found no related anchor text on inbound links and no further reason for this. The site has been the official site for the flugplatz Bielefeld for ages – this is how it looked in 1998.
The one tenuous link to Hibernian that a friend found was in the text of a pdf that links to the site. That doesn’t quite seem enough to push a site about a German Airfield to the top of the results on a search for a Scottish Football team.
Maybe this is where the anchor text and PageRank from every Hibs related nofollow link was “evaporated” to after the recent changes to the way Google deals with nofollowed links. That would seem a bit careless and weird but who knows?
There’s a fun sized Mars bar for the most plausible explanation. Lets hear them…