SEO. No, not that one.
For once, the SEO in my post title doesn't actually refer to search engine optimization. Rather, it refers to the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity. As you can probably tell, the site has nothing to do with optimizing websites and yet it ranks number 3 in Google for the keyword "SEO".
From what I understand, Google's personalized search should, over time, eliminate this result for me since my online activities are clearly focussed on search engine optimization and not this "other" SEO. But in the meantime, it would appear that despite the efforts of hundreds and likely thousands of bloggers and companies writing about search engine optimization, one of the top spots for "SEO" is held by an organization outside the industry.
To make matters worse for those providing SEO services, the top spot is held by a Wikipedia entry. That leaves just one result (SEO Chat) claiming a spot in the top 3 search results.
Wikipedia's presence is no surprise. I've written before about how Wikipedia is claiming top spots for numerous search terms and so this is just further proof of that situation. And of course, a popular site like SEO Chat deserves to claim one of the spots so there's no reason to dig further there. What does intrigue me though is the appearance of this educational site that, as far as I can tell, isn't doing much SEO or at least isn't particularly aggressive with their efforts.
The SEO USA domain was registered in 1998 and is set to expire in 2014 which together make for a positive signal of quality. Its inbound link profile isn't particularly extraordinary, but it does have a PageRank of 6. The site is also an educational institution which by definition leans more towards being informative rather than transactional like a services company. This again could be something Google favors. And of course the site repeats the the letters "SEO" all over the place as you would expect given that it is the organization's name.
Apparently just those handful of variables are enough to beat the rest of the SEO sites out there. The question I can't answer is whether the SEO's of the world aren't bothering to optimize for their most relevant term (shoemaker's shoes comes to mind) or if they're just doing a poor job of it.