Arguable the “holy grail” of tv commercials is during the Super Bowl. This year the cost to air a 30-second spot was 5.6 million dollars, a far cry from around $40,000 in 1967, even including inflation. Considering the cost, one would think a corporation would take extra pains to make sure that a website connected to this spot would be as perfect as possible. However, thanks to the Planters “Baby Nut” fiasco, we can say otherwise.

As SEO consultant Dan Shure mentioned on LinkedIn, the official website is nowhere to be found on Google. Despite roughly 1 million people searching for this during and after the game, no one could locate this companion site that is filled with “Baby Nut” merchandise. After finding out about this, one of our SEO experts Andrew Burd decided to investigate. What happened to make Planters miss possibly one of their biggest paydays of the year?

Technical SEO Problems

Burd did a short audit of the website connected to the commercial, Some obvious issues quickly arose, centering around duplicate content.

The first, also mentioned by Shure, was that there were two canonical tags on the site. The second one of these tags previously had incorrect URLs, which are now corrected. However, having two is still a major problem.

This issue can cause Google’s crawlers to become confused and rank the site lower because there is duplicate content. The search engine would consider the duplicate tags to be “content stuffing,” a bad SEO practice, and would penalize the site by having it rank very low or not at all.

Another SEO related conundrum that Burd discovered is that there are many duplicate title tags. This will create a similar problem with Google. These tags are essentially sending the same signal to the search engine, telling it to crawl and index all pages the same. Google then has to randomly choose what is the most appropriate piece of content to show.

Because of this flaw, competitors who don’t duplicate their title tags will always outrank because they are clear on what is most important to them.

User Experience

While the SEO issues alone are concerning, there are also concerns with user experience, one of these being page speed. What searcher wants to wait around for a site to load? Burd’s audit with a simulated 4G network found that the site scored an 18 out of 100. This makes it a problem for someone with a poor connection to wifi, or no connection at all.

Another major problem is that the site has duplicated, generic meta description tags. These produce a bland message for the user, discouraging clicks on the website. The meta descriptions are also too long for those on mobile devices, which means they will be cut off after a certain point.

Paid Search?

After the audit, our next question on this analytic journey was concerning paid search. Would it have been beneficial for to use paid search ads for its super bowl commercial, considering its poor SEO practices?

The answer is only to a point. While there is a chance that ads for the website would have shown in the search results some of the time, they probably still would not have done that well. This is because their quality score would have been very low.

There are three factors that play into this: expected click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience. Even if the first two were great, the last factor would drag the score down because of how bad the SEO is. This causes Google to not show an ad that often because the site is poor quality.

A “Baby Nut”-get of Wisdom

Despite Planters missing out on serious revenue from their Super Bowl ad, there is a lesson to be learned here. Even if you have paid ads, great imagery, and fantastic prices, SEO best practices will always come first. They are the main way a website is read and has a good Google ranking. This leads to a good user experience, and of course, revenue.

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