There is an old adage that says, “There is no such thing as bad press.” While we could argue the validity of that statement for most businesses, it may hold true in the eyes of Google’s search algorithms.

We at ADsmith were horrified to hear that three men carrying hammers recently robbed our client Maxon’s Diamond Merchants. Thankfully no one was hurt, but the thieves got away with 11 Rolex watches. That is pretty scary stuff, and so far only one man has been arrested.

We don’t see a lot of jewelry store heists in Springfield, MO, so every media outlet in town ran a story. There were segments and articles on the evening news, in the newspaper and on the web. Local reporters were tweeting about the story and putting out information in their Facebook feeds.

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So what does all that have to do with SEO?

Fast forward to Monday; I’m doing my morning routine of checking SEMrush (our keyword tracking software) to see if there are any major keyword ranking changes that could signal an emergency or a win. Hmmm, Maxon’s keyword rankings are up 10% over the last 7 days, I thought to myself. We’re working on refreshing their website, so we haven’t been doing as much ongoing SEO work and the jump in rankings was a surprise.

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I dug into analytics and saw a 120% increase in organic traffic for the weekend after the robbery compared to the weekend before. We even saw an increase in pages per session and average session duration.

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We all know that getting press is a great way to boost website traffic and help with your rankings in search, but I was surprised at how fast everything moved after the fact. We saw keyword rankings increase the day after the robbery. That’s pretty fast.

So what did we learn from this?

  1. Obviously don’t try to get robbed. The title of this case study is meant to be funny, and by no means is a recommendation.
  2. The biggest thing is to make sure you’re doing digital right. If you’re actively working on your SEO, website, and social but aren’t seeing a return, just keep at it. You never know when serendipity is going to help you out. If Maxon’s didn’t have their Google My Business claimed, their title tags in place, or (God forbid), they didn’t have a website, people might not have been able to find them online when the store robbery piqued their interest.
  3. Make a statement on your social media of choice. Maxon’s most engaging Facebook post to date was the day after the robbery where they told everyone that they were okay and thanked the Springfield Police Department. 239 likes, 12 shares, over 20 comments, and an organic reach of 7,300 is pretty great, but it’s deeper than just engagement. People sincerely wanted to know that everyone at Maxon’s was okay, and they wanted to show their support.
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  4. You don’t always need links because Google’s algorithm (and SEO) is much more complex than just links. Seriously, none of the news outlets posted any links to Maxon’s site in their online articles. But SEO isn’t just about links. The surge in social activity, the increase in branded search in Google, and the non-linked mentions in large, authoritative, and local sites was enough to boost their rankings.
  5. Get some press. Do something noteworthy or exciting. Sponsor charity events and make sure to talk about it on social media (along with tagging the nonprofit in your social media post). One big story that catches hold is extremely valuable. Create content that is locally focused and sharable. If you keep trying, eventually everything will align and something will pop. The effort you put in will always affect your business, but sometimes chance also plays a role.

Occasionally, a bad thing can be flipped on its head and be turned into a digital marketing win!