No, that headline is not a mistake. But it is for roughly 5,000 websites.

Let me explain…

While working on a proposal for a new client, I did a routine audit of their SEO using a site crawler to map all pages. It is fairly common to see ugly, lazy page optimization: dull, undescriptive or even duplicate titles, blank meta, missing H1 and H2 tags, no alt text on images, etc.

One this that caught my eye was 11 pages with the meta description ‘Garbanzo cress garlic water spinach daikon silver beet fennel yarrow. Eggplant avocado brussel sprout kakadu plum garlic bamboo shoot tomato yarrow turnip’.

seo mistakes

Sure enough, the pages were left over template files. I presume the theme developer was motivated to think beyond Lorem Ipsum and go for the veggies.

Wondering if this was an isolated incident, I naturally Googled the entire meta description. Sure enough, more than 5,000 websites had the same problem.

Holy veggie burger, Batman.

I’m reminded of a sign you see on the back of trucks:GOOGLE-INDEX-SEO-ISSUES


Lessons learned?

  1. Content management systems like WordPress are prone to template clone issues. We’ve all made the same dumb mistakes from time to time. But examples like this are a reminder to do a quick QC check with a free crawler tool like Screaming Frog (or others) before you go live. Are all the tags unique, short and descriptive? Or do they mention silver beets and garbanzo?
  2. Now is a good time to connect Google Search Console to your site so you can spot issues like this.
  3. Check your sitemap.xml file, too, for strange bedfellows that have no place being in Google’s index.