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What does Patagonia think they’re doing!??

This was just brought to my attention by one of my clients looking for SEO. They were curious whether they should implement a technique they saw on a competitors site. When I followed the link they sent me, I tried not to laugh.

It appears that Patagonia has gotten some bad advice. If you visit their homepage and scroll to the bottom, you’ll see what they are calling a “Search Index Page Description”. However, this looks remarkably like one of those cheap attempts at SEO manipulation you saw back in the early web days when sites would list tons of key words and links at the bottom of the index page in a font color the same as their background color. This would make the jumbled mess of words invisible. Now search engines can look for that- so it seems that Patagonia has tried failed to go about it in a more clever way.
Look here:

It’s interesting to see a reputable company and essentially a company with enough money to hire good, knowledgeable web/SEO people stoop to such a low level and implement such a low brow, brute force SEO tactic.

It’s possible that this could help them get a quick ranking spike. However, in the long run, this will only hurt them. Especially if their site is flagged for manual review. This would no doubt be seen as an active attempt at SEO manipulation. Their lame excuse of providing the customer with an index page description or whatever wouldn’t hold any water.

On top of that, even without manual review, with that amount of link and keyword density, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Googlebot/algorithms haven’t already discounted that section of their page. You can definitely tell they are trying the way they’ve placed and phrased the anchor text of all these links. Then they attempted to make it look less like mumbled garbage by tying the links together with regular words in order to form a loose paragraph. The result however, is only somewhat intelligible.

My favorite part is their lame (but the most creative of the whole deal) way of including misspellings in this hunk of garbage. At the very end of the “description” appears:

If the whiskey bottle gets passed around the campfire too many times, folks might try and spell Patagonia like patigonia, pategonia, padagonia and pantagonia.

I mean, its possible that the one liner about whiskey would be more than acceptable and even outright clever ON ITS OWN, as a way to get misspellings on the page- however, any merit it had is completely canceled out by the rest of this catastrophe.

I think the Patagonia web team were ones passing around the whiskey bottle on this time.

And of course, on top of all the technical stuff- not only is ineffective and possibly detrimental, but it looks ugly.

You have a very messy, unprofessional, garbled mess sitting at the bottom of your home page that causes unnecessary scrolling for the user. Total Fail.

However, in order for this to be an Epic Fail, they need to get caught or penalized by google. If only I could get a hold of their analytics reports…

Unless noted otherwise, all media and content copyright 2014 Adam Dexter. All rights reserved.