Feb 1, 2011


In the world of SEO, mistakes can happen, some more funny and some more detrimental than others. Here is a selection of some of the funniest SEO mistakes, kindly submitted from fellow SEOers.

John Mcelborough (Ioptimal)
I’ve seen developers forget to remove the robots file to block search engines when redesigning a very busy financial services site before. Cost about £250k if I remember rightly!
Also, an agency I worked for screwed up something on their site a few years ago and a post I wrote about it outranked them for a while, that was pretty funny!
Harvey Kane (RagePank)
There was this one client where I advised that title tags should be increased to 70 characters to get the most value from a Google listing, and meta descriptions should be 156 characters. The client padded out his titles / meta descriptions with exactly the right amount of whitespace, which wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.
Another time I was having problems with my content being scraped and it was affecting my rankings – so I set the site up to serve a noindex meta tag to all user agents except Googlebot, so when the scrapers copied the content it included a noindex tag and their copy of my content wouldn’t get indexed. That was the theory. Googlebot managed to get past the Googlebot-detection script and found the noindex tag… I think you know what happens next :)
Kev Strong (Goosh.co.uk)
When I was starting out in SEO about 6 years ago, I was a PHP web developer launching a personal website based around the idea of an Innuendo Generator. The idea was to create visual representations of innuendo’s ala Carry On/Austin Powers (Big Melons etc).
One of the SEO enhancements I built into the site was to create a simple text replacement module to generate unique Title’s, H1’s and content based on the title of the innuendo. Alongside this, I created a search function on the website that retained the searches in a database.  Unfortunately for me, I had coded the search result to generate a page that resolved on its own URI, but with a 404 (Not Found) response code and with the relevant search-related query in the Title, H1 and content.  I did this incorrectly and it was actually triggering a 200 (OK) response code thus creating a bonafide page that appeared fine.
To add to matters, the fifteen latest innuendo searches were shown on the homepage. This allowed all search engine bots to crawl the pages, return them as bonafide pages and index them. Little had I known I had created an auto-generated content website with some of the crudest and filthiest innuendos known to man!
The downside of this was the ability for people to create a page on my website with a Title, H1 and semi-automated content with their keywords in the website.
The upside of this was I had created a faucet for ideas and innuendos that I was previously unaware of.

Wes McDermott (SEObyhand.co.uk)
I did an SEO proposal for a company I worked with a while ago, they decided to go with another company instead of me. 6 months down the line I got a call from one of the guys at the company, he told me that my proposal was ranking ahead of their site for one of their main keywords, he asked me to take it down. He was basically suggesting I had done something under handed with his site. So I explained to him that it’s just “better” optimised than his site for that keyword. The next day I got another phone call, it was the same guy again offering me the job. Needless to say, they’re now ranking much higher than the proposal!
Jim Westergren (jimwestergren.com)
Not a mistake I had made but I had a client that paid good money for consultancy. He had his website blocked via robots.txt AND meta noindex. No wonder he didn’t rank.

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