Share Your Funny SEO Mistakes

Dec 18, 2008 • 8:17 am | comments (12) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization

I found a fun but serious SEO mistake in a Google Webmaster Help thread that I wanted to share with you all. But I felt it would be fun, if you had the time, to share at least one of your funny, but deadly, SEO mistakes - that you have seen first hand, in the comment section below.

The mistake documented in the thread was that someone was not sure why his Webmaster Tools account was showing the status of "network unreachable" for many of his URLs. JohnMu from Google looked into the issue to explain that although you and I (ordinary users) can see those URLs, for some reason, GoogleBot was being shown a 500 error page. The way John was able to reproduce that was by simply changing his browser's useragent to the same useragent GoogleBot uses, "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +". Then he surfed to the page to be presented with the 500 error.

This is a deadly but sad mistake. Normally people will go out of their way to serve up better optimized pages for GoogleBot. But to serve up error pages to GoogleBot, while serving up your beautiful content only to your users - well, that is kinda anti-SEO. This webmaster's issue had to do with a problem with's URL rewriting system he was using and how he set it up.

Your turn, share a quick story below of a funny SEO mistake you have seen.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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Todd Mintz

12/18/2008 05:00 pm

Seeing a title tag for a business website that contained the words "Free Website Template".

Barry Schwartz

12/18/2008 05:32 pm

Thanks Todd, I guess people don't want to share this stuff. :)


12/18/2008 06:47 pm

I spent two weeks reoptimizing my site in 2002 and then accidentally wiped out the server. We were down for month. Not so sure that is funny, but it definitely taught me to check the integrity of my backups before I need them (we actually had two backups on different machines and both were corrupted).


12/18/2008 07:12 pm

I've been in the game for less than a year...I'm a walking, talking SEO mistake :->

Julie Joyce

12/19/2008 01:28 am

When I was cloaking (runs and hides) I set the cloaking page to say "if you're coming to this page, you really want to go here instead" only I used the same damn page so there was this massive infinite loop. Within about 5 minutes the server had crashed and all of our clients' sites went down.


12/19/2008 08:26 am

My (I say my loosely as it was someone else's mistake which I corrected) mistake was to accidentally transfer the robots.txt from the test site to the live site. Which excludes all spiders from visiting! ... It wasn't spotted for 3 months!

Rob Abdul

12/19/2008 11:42 am

Michael, use the GFS method. Grandfather, Father and Son method to do your backups and try and restore from your backup once a month or a fortnight Okay it is time to come clean with my SEO mistake: I developed my own blog software and uploaded it with a good dozen posts. After a month I could not understand why I was not seeing any of the pages in the index. Robots.txt and Sitemap.xml were fine, not reported downtime. Since it was my own site and not a Client’s I let it be for another month before I realised what I had done. All the pages in my blog had the NOINDEX in the robot tag. What an idiot I was!


12/19/2008 12:17 pm

I accidentally submitted few description in place of keywords and vice versa

Tad Chef

12/18/2009 05:18 pm

I prefer the mistakes that work in my favor. I'm quite often mipssplelling a lot and quite a few times I've ranked for queries where everybody else misspells the terms in the same way. Sometimes I fixed the typos and lost the traffic.

Koen Verbrugge

06/11/2010 12:26 pm

One of the biggest banks in Belgium has this meta-tag in the homepage: Keywords, Comma, Seperated The Spanish site for company-listing has launched minisites for each niche containing the same listers, in the same layout, leading to detail-pages of the mainsite. few months later these sites are still not to bes seen in any SERP #ouch


06/30/2010 09:51 pm

On page SEO for a public relations firm optimized for pubic relations thanks to the deadly combo of Find/Replace and Typo.


06/11/2011 11:17 pm

Not guilty of this one but an seo firm in hampshire (i wont mention the name but begins with vertical) where I was working decided to spam all of the forums for job boards..... jobsite a major job board then got completely removed from googles index.... Funny to say the least and i assure you the account manger was quickly removed!

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