Tuesday 4th March 2014 was a bad day for PC World. A very bad day. Usvsth3m reported Google had mistakenly uploaded a spoof logo to its results page for the search term “PC World”.
PR disaster, right? But, this could be testament to the theory that all publicity is good publicity.
On the surface the search results page looks like any other post-Hummingbird results page, including brand description, a map of local stores and a link to the site itself:
However, if you look a little closer you can see the spoof 2008 logo mistakenly uploaded by Google:
Thanks to the media attention the mistake generated, PC World had a morning of being laughed at by the online world.
However, a well timed recovery by Mark Webb (Dixons Social Media Manager) addressing the issue in good humour and getting in that “customer satisfaction levels [are] rising rapidly across the board” helped manage the situation.
@praddles Hey ho. Customer satisfaction levels rising rapidly across the board, but we have some past reputation to deal with.
— mark webb (@MarkWebb_Dixons) March 4, 2014
Furthermore, the brand buzz it has created might actually help the site up their rankings; stories in the Metro, The Independent, The Telegraph and a feature on Buzzfeed will all be valuable in terms of building PC World’s online presence, not to mention the 5,000 shares of the story and countless tweets.
We spoke to Martin Woods, WMG’s Head of Technical and Insight:
“Over the last few years we’ve seen Google display more and more data in SERPs (search engine results pages) taken from third parties. As the implementation of micro format data increases, along with the improvements in Google’s knowledge graph we’re going to see much more directly in Google. As with all externally sourced data, there is an increased risk it can be incorrect/manipulated, in this case it was an image, but it could have been something else. This however ended up being a nice little bit of free publicity, as the social media manager responded in the correct manner for the audience.
On the similar theme of ‘enhanced SERPs’ by scraping other websites information, this tweet by Dan Darker went viral last week, after Dan exposed the double standards of Google for taking other websites content, and displaying it higher than the original source. While at the same time Matt Cutts asked for examples of scraper sites ranking higher than the original source. Presumably the webspam team are trying to improve the Panda algorithm at the moment after many months focusing on link spam”
— dan barker (@danbarker) February 27, 2014
In any case it’s always nice to know that Google makes mistakes too, and after all, they definitely owe PC World now.