Tebowing, T-Bowing and Accidental Google Rankings

November 17th, 2011 by Search Influence Alumni

As an LSU alumnus, I'm proud to say I saw Tim Tebowing while crying, after a loss in Tiger Stadium.

According to Tebowing.com, tebowing is a verb, defined “to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.” For a little background on the subject, Tim Tebow is a NFL quarterback who currently starts for the Denver Broncos. He’s known to be very religious, one of the greatest college football players of all time, and so far, not a very great NFL quarterback. For these reasons he has been a focal point of sports media since he joined the NFL. Since Tebow became an NFL starter the last few weeks, he has been seen praying frequently before and after games, which has given way to Tebowing — basically the same thing as planking, or taking pictures of yourself performing a specific, silly pose and posting it online.

At Search Influence, we occasionally plank, tebow, and sometimes start our own trends, but no one wanted to talk about it until we accidentally ranked for the term… or actually a misspelled version of the term. This morning I discovered that in the past 30 days www.searchinfluence.com has received 83 visits for terms like tbowing, t bowing, t-bowing, etc. How can that be, when we haven’t written anything about it? It turns out that this blog post ranks # 2 in Google for the term tbowing–which by the way isn’t how it’s spelled, but if you had no idea what it meant, you might search it with this spelling.

As you can see in the screen shot, due to the apostrophe in the word isn’t, Google is connecting the “t” and the “bowing” to form one word. Since there is no website called tbowing.com and no one calls it “tbowing,” Google has no choice but to try to match your crazy search phrase, which it has probably never seen to any significant degree before, with something seemingly relevant.

What does this have to do with SEO? Not much other than trying to understand how Google works, and realizing that you might be able to rank for a new word, or an alternate spelling of a word that gets significant search volume, but provides irrelevant results. This brings up another issue — relevance. As you can see in the analytics screen shot, our site has received 83 extra visits that we didn’t plan on getting. The problem with this can be seen in the numbers: nearly 100% of visitors immediately left the page after it loaded because the page had nothing to do with the search term. Even if the page did have something to do with the search term, the term is likely not being Googled by an SEO firm’s target market, small to medium sized business owners, and therefore these “leads” aren’t really leads at all — the overall visits for this month are artificially inflated. Whether you’re a small business owner who has hired someone to manage your SEO, or a marketer looking to track your leads, make sure to exclude numbers like these.

The moral of this story is that while sheer numbers of visits can be impressive on the outside, they’re not worth much if the viewers leave immediately. Seeding irrelevant keywords and concepts into your webpages can bring in the visitors, sure, but without some dirt to back it up, you’re not going to see results — just a veneer of success.