Gawker’s Multi-Million Dollar SEO Mistake

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Think SEO is expensive? Try losing 30% of your traffic and revenue overnight due to mismanaged and/or ignored SEO. That’s basically what happened to Gawker this year.

Not to pick on Gawker, but seldom do business people get so much transparent traffic data to see a direct cause-and-effect of a major redesign gone bad (unless they blow a hole in their own foot at some point). So that makes this a uniquely teachable SEO moment. So what happens when you run web properties generating tens of millions of dollars in organic traffic, and one day you push a site redesign to the loud guffaws of many an experienced SEO? Look no further than the graph below.

How much did this mistake cost Gawker? $2 million, $5 million, maybe $10 million of revenue lost to bad SEO. And it’s not like selling mattresses– people don’t come back when the store is open. Missed search traffic can’t come back… you either get the click when the user searches or its lost forever. SEO doesn’t look so expensive anymore.

If you’re responsible for a search-driven web property, for the love of Mike, be smart about SEO. Test, test, test. Hire people who have the battle scars. If Gawker wasn’t owned by a sole proprietor, you can bet there would be some uncomfortable Board meetings with the title of “Why We’ve Missed Our Revenue Forecast for FIVE Months.” The bottom line is, never take your organic search rankings for granted.

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