A shocking SEO mistake

What’s the worst SEO mistake you’ve seen lately?

There’s never a shortage of topics to write about in this line of work, and today I have a doosy for you.


This unfortunate tale was brought to my attention by my friend and colleague Dan Oxnam.

A search for DFO (Direct Factory Outlet) on Google shows one of the most embarrassing Google sitelinks I’ve ever seen – quick warning, this example contains some offensive language.

I think someone is going to get in trouble over this one (I apologise to that person in advance)

Sitelinks are an old feature, which I’m sure you’ve all seen at Google and the other search engines to help people navigate deeper into a website. Google uses a special algorithm to display “most popular” pages on your site and bring them out for direct access.

Here’s a typical example:



OK, so next is a not so typical example (again, if you’re a bit sensitive to bad language, skip the next image).





I think a developer was probably trying to figure out what DFO stands for, and got it wrong.

She/he created this page and forgot to stop Google’s robots finding it (either with a robots.txt file or a nofollow/noindex meta tag).

OK, in the unlikely event this happens to you, what should you do?!


Step 1.

Get rid of that page/directory FAST! Note, this shouldn’t be your only course of action; it will take days or weeks for Google to update by itself – so the offending sitelink will remain in place long enough for everyone to laugh at you.


Step 2.

If you haven’t already, get a Google webmaster tools account set up PRONTO.

I can’t see a Google webmaster tools verification meta tag in the source code of DFO’s site, however they may have uploaded a Google verification file.

In Google webmaster tools you can block site links. DFO might want to do this.

Here’s how:



A search on Twitter shows it’s starting to go viral.

Reputation management 101: DFO should have engaged in this conversation to mitigate before it went so far. The company has however thankfully realised their mistake and has had the site fixed by now.

One last screenshot showing the potential impact:





Chris Thomas heads Reseo, a search engine optimisation company which specialises in creating and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.

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