With Halloween almost upon us I thought I’d give a round-up of some of the online marketing world’s scariest horror stories from the past year. Forget about ‘Paranormal Activity II’, ‘Contagion’ or any other scary films out this year, the following examples of how not to run a successful SEO or Social media campaign will make you shudder to your core…
Reading Festival 2011
The day that Reading and Leeds festival tickets go on sale normally prompts a huge storm of competitive PPC, Social and SEO optimization by all the big ticketing sites, as there are literally hundreds of thousands of searches for the term “reading festival” and traditionally the website that takes the lions share is (quite naturally) the official site: readingfestival.com. The demand is off the scale, with impressions on Adwords being in the hundreds of thousands – this Google Insights graph gives a good idea of the spike this week every year:
The graph below shows site visits as tracked by Alexa.com – the massive spike at the start is last year’s ticket sales, and the subsequent spike is the week of the festival itself:
Most of this traffic every year is fuelled by Google organic, pure SEO traffic – as they don’t have much they own the brand they don’t need to buy paid ads as they should rank highly in Google.
This year, however, was a different story. If you took a look at the SERPs in UK at the time tickets were released, their site was nowhere to be seen on google.co.uk:
How could they have made such a monumental mistake to be de-indexed on the biggest day of the year for them?
It’s all down to massive internal duplicate content creation.
Typically their site goes down during the sale of tickets and they replace it with a holding “coming soon” type page, detailing that they are experiencing huge demand. Last year this page was put in place during the actual spike, and they 301′d the rest of their site back to this page.
This year, some enterprising sole at their web company simply rendered EVERY page of their site as the (identical) holding page. Not great for duplicate content methinks.
Furthermore, they put the holding page up in lieu of the entire site so Google began spidering all of the pages in its index over the course of the day, in a much accelerated fashion thanks to the huge spike in volume, and had the same page returned for every URL.
And Finally… Asty Hotel
This is what happens when you forget to define your site’s page titles and Meta data…
Well, at least they’re ranking for the term ‘tier-1 keywords’…