François 1er

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While browsing my egorati, I found a post from François Granger who was digging yesterday into the Google Rank for François. He notes that I appear in the 7th position for a search for françois on Google France. Today, a search for françois on Google.com lists my weblog as the first result.

Me, François 1er of about 2,880,000 results for Google (and 1er out of 3,060,000 for Yahoo)! I just don't believe it (but I'll keep this screenshot for memory). It's not me, I didn't do it, it's not my fault! Considering that I was about nowhere in Google a year ago, I guess this is some sort of achievement.

Same for a search on padawan. That, I understand it better, as the domain name certainly plays a role in the ranking. Ironically, I top all the other apprentices who are the true relayers of the Star Wars culture. I assume the shame and wonder how long it will stay that way until I receive a letter from LucasFilm. Sorry guys, the Google Force is with me, I'm a master now. Thanks for visiting and be assured that I'm a big fan of the movie!

I'm also first on a search on francois (no cedilla), but the results are very different if you strip out the UTF-8 encoding (here, screenshot.)

Note that the second choice for Google has all the appearance of a cybersquat on François Delecour's name. Absolutely nowhere in that dummy page is the word François to be found. Add this to the mysteries of Google's Page Rank, along with the fact I'm first again for Joi Ito Parody while I was merely linking to one and referring to googlewashing. Irony must be a factor in Page Rank.

I'm probably stating the obvious, but here are a few "on the field" observations about what influences the Google rank (in addition to having the searched keywords prominent within the content, and other sites linking to the same destination of course):

  • domain name
  • link text. I can't resist quoting Mark Pilgrim on this: "Anyone who believes that link text doesn’t influence Google results should click here. Or exit. (And if you understand that, shame on you.)"
  • frequency of publication. This one, I've followed live in my statistics in the past 10 months. I reckon it is one of the factors that favor weblogs over other, less frequently updated sites.
  • [Update] a language bias, or which Google index you search. E.g. the "web" index of Google France is obviously different from the index of Google.com. This is a mystery to me, as I would expect a "web" search on google.fr (or any localized variant) to give me the same results as the main index on google.com

Startup idea of the week: create a reverse-Google page rank that would give the list of search keywords/phrases for which a given URL appears as the first result.

Startup idea for next week: create a search engine that would give you the list of keywords/phrases for which there are no results. Target it to clueless, uninspired marketing managers.

Feel free to add your own observations.