10 Spooky SEM Surprises

Halloween is a day for costumes and carving, bonfires and bobbing, tricking and treating. In short, there’s never a dull moment. Here are 10 surprises sure to spook your SEM shorts off. Hopefully none of these harrowing happenings will haunt you this All Hallow’s Eve.

1. A new competitor with deep pockets emerges. We’ve all been there, cruising along with PPC and SEO programs calibrated to deliver maximum profit with volume levels that consistently meet overall revenue goals. Then, zap, like Zuul popping up at your apartment, here comes a demonic competitor hellbent on possessing your position. With seeming disregard for margins, this wanna-be-you bids up all your top keywords and threatens to usurp your SERP with hella-PR links from high-PR pages. Who ya gonna call?

2. Your site goes down. Nothing churns the stomach more than a text or tweet with that innocent question, “Hey, is your site down?” As your heart beats through your chest, you type your domain into every browser on every device until you finally accept the fact that your site is indeed down. Now comes the panicked “WTF” email to IT and the “Stop the presses!” email to everyone who has anything to do with sending paid traffic to your site.



3. Your paid search daily budget caps out at noon. It’s 8 p.m. and dark outside, and do you know where your keywords are? Asleep! Since noon! While you’ve been wrangling reports and exorcising Excel, your competitors have been eating your lunch since, well, lunchtime. Better bid better and cut cap cuts. You can take this one straight to the bank.

4. You’ve been sending PPC traffic to a broken landing page. Hmm, why are conversion rates for this ad group so low? Great Scott! It’s a 404. How long has this page been down? Leaping Lizards!Almost two weeks. How much have we spent on these keywords? Holy Mother of God! Alas, even she can’t save your hide on this one.

5. Your product inventory sells out. Good problem to have. But you’re hemorrhaging cash with each click to a product that can’t be purchased. Shame on you for not integrating inventory feeds through your SEM platform. Please report to Michael Myers in procurement.

6. Your product inventory is recalled. Tread-separating tires.Exploding laptop batteries. Salmonella peanut butter. Pop quiz hot shot. What do you do? Cut your losses and yank your ads? Or mount an aggressive campaign to share “official” details? Either way, you’re gonna need some Tylenol to get through this day. Just be sure it’s not from this musty lot

7. Your site disappears from the SERP. Good morning. As far as Google is concerned, you’re now a ghost. Better check the Mozcast

8. Your SEO agency disappears. The only thing spookier than your site disappearing from the SERP is your SEO agency disappearing from the earth. Not only are you doomed to having your site banned for whatever tricks those cats had under their black hats, but you’re out the $50k check you just wrote them.

9. The Situation endorses your brand. Whoever said “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” never watched “Jersey Shore.” While having your product plugged on a hot reality show is usually a good thing, not all brands see it that way. If you suddenly see your brand trending in the wrong direction, check if any “Jersey Shore” cast members, aging “Real World” “stars” or Kardashians recently name-checked it. And then implement damage control, aka brand reputation management. (Jokes aside: sending out positive vibes to everyone near the Jersey Shore and other areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.)

10. Nothing bad happens. Perhaps the scariest SEM surprise of all is a day when absolutely nothing goes wrong. Surely you missed something. You did miss something, and don’t call me Shirley.

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