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What?! A Search-Hostile Site That Still Ranks Well
What follows is a rant, which is something I rarely, if ever, do. It’s done in the spirit of fun, so don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy!
I feel like the grandpa who laments in a crotchety voice to his grandkids: “Nobody ever writes letters anymore! They just sit on their computers and their cell phones all damn day!” But instead I’m saying: “Nobody ever blogs anymore! They just tweet and re-tweet!”. For example, this tweet by @dannysullivan could have been a fantastic blog post. Instead: it’s 129 characters that merely hints at the story:
Last week I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Danny on a panel at the eMetrics Summit. The topic, unsurprisingly, was SEO, but targeted to web analytics geeks (a number of whom were SEO newbies). Danny kicked off the session with a quick SEO 101 where he expanded on his gem of a tweet above about Pinkberry.com. Pinkberry is a frozen yogurt brand that I was unaware of until the session. And what a brilliant example it was. Pinkberry.com is a case study in how NOT to build a website. I think they hired the Anti-SEO to ensure they wouldn’t rank for anything other than their brand name.
There was really silly stuff going on. Basic, basic on-page SEO was completely mucked up. Like for example, the page titles. Danny showed the audience site: results in Google for Pinkberry.com and the results were, well, disturbing to say the least—at least for anyone with an SEO bone in his/her body! Sure enough, every title tag was the same across the site. But wait, it gets better! The titles were all one word long: “Pinkberry®”. Luckily, the major engines don’t trip up on circle R and TM symbols, even when they are ASCII characters, or I’d be complaining about that too! (Nonetheless, I dislike such symbols in title tags. If you must use them in titles or elsewhere or you get yelled at by your legal department, then please “escape” them, e.g. ®—it’s just good HTML etiquette.)
Let’s move on to what is on the home page, that most important of pages from an SEO perspective. It’s a circa late 90’s “splash page”. With, you guessed it, zero textual content. This is what the home page looks like from a spider’s perspective. Pretty sad. Well, to be more technically correct, this is what it sees: there’s a single image with no alt attribute and a filename that is of no help whatsoever.
I think the only thing the Anti-SEO didn’t do was take any textual navigation or content elements that may have been remaining in spider-accessible formats/locations and wrapped a Flash movie around all of them. And perhaps added frames for good measure, complete with hidden links in the frameset pointing back to His site.
Yet somehow, despite themselves (as Danny notes in the tweet above) Pinkberry ranks on page 2 in Google for “yogurt!” Huh? Or as the younger generation like to say: “WTF??”
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