The Beijing Olympics are just around the corner, the Olympic torch has made its way to the Great Wall, and the world’s eyes & TiVOs are all set to China. Unfortunately for many families, the recent Olympic ticketing scam (BeijingTicketing.com) has ruined their Olympic spirit. While Internet scams are nothing new, from those Brooklyn StoreFronts, to pyramid schemes, an Olympic ticketing scam of this magnitude has never been heard of.
Let’s look from an SEO perspective of how BeijingTicketing.com, a web site less than 1 year old, overtook the #1 position on both Google and Yahoo from CoSport.com, the Official Olympic Tickets Sales web site. Note: The CoSport.com domain is over 9 years old.
1. Home Page Design
From running a simple SEOMoz Crawl Test (viewable here) we can see the full web site itself is only 7 pages, and 5 of those pages include duplicate title tags and meta descriptions. Not a great start, but not necessarily the end of the world for CoSport.
The linking structure found on the home page is another story. The web site is broken up into a 4 column layout with the left column acting as an information & sub-navigation bar.
Let’s look at the three prominent columns on the CoSport.com home page:
- 1st column: This section focuses on telling the visitor about the web site, similar to a welcome message.
- 2nd column: This section focuses around a link that leads to another domain (JetSetSports.net)
- 3rd column: This section forces the visitor to select a country from a drop-down form, after which it redirects to link on CoSport.Net.
From an SEO perspective, this is terrible as it is pushing traffic CoSports is hoping to convert into sales onto external web sites, not to mention the link juice they are losing. Additionally, the 3rd column creates more work for GoogleBot Not, forcing it to crawl through a form selecting different countries each time. The end result is identical pages (duplicate content) that is in different directories:
i.e. The content is identical on all of these pages.
US selection: http://www.cosport.net/b2008/us/
Estonia selection: http://www.cosport.net/b2008/aut_en/
Bulgaria selection: http://www.cosport.net/b2008/bul_en/
2. Headers, Titles & More Tags
Title Tag: <title>CoSport | Beijing 2008 | Official Website for Olympic Tickets and Accommodations Sales</title>
Meta Description: <meta name=”DESCRIPTION” content=”Olympic Hospitality Provider” />
Headers: The CoSport.com home page lacks <h1> and <h2> tags.
Title Tag: <title>Olympic Tickets | Beijing Olympic Tickets | Buy 2008 Olympic Tickets</title>
Meta Description: <meta name=”DESCRIPTION” content=”Buy Beijing 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremony Tickets and other Olympics games tickets on BeijingTicketing.com! The Worldwide dealer in Olympics Tickets.” />
Headers: The BeijingTicketing.com home page lacks <h1> and <h2> tags.
More On BeijingTicketing.com
While the web site has now been closed down, Google still has a cached version of the web site and over 1,970 pages in its index. Just from viewing the home page, we can see that the site was designed for ticket buyers and focused around targeting as many primary and longer tail keywords as possible.
There are over 300 words of content on the home page & deeper pages as well as proper use of anchor text describing the page the links are pointing to.
3. Link & URL Structure
The Link & URL Structure on BeijingTicketing.com puts CoSport.com to shame. Most, if not all of the links on the home page are accompanied with descriptive anchor text and linking to deeper pages on their domain. BeijingTicketing.com also goes as far to utilize web2.0 technology, asking visitors to share their site with others.
The first thing about CoSport.Net is you can’t actually buy tickets for events on the domain. Every ticket purchase is directed to CoSport.Net. On Google, CoSport.net doesn’t even appear in the top 100 for an “Olympic Tickets” search.
CoSport.com URL Structure:
BeijingTicketing.com URL Structure
It’s obvious that BeijingTicketing.com made an effort to clean-up their URL structure and properly organize each page in order to target very specific long tail search terms such as “Beijing Olympics Rowing Tickets,” “Bejing Aquatics Centre,” and “Beijing Mens Basketball Tickets.”
For many of these long tail terms BeijingTicketing.com is still ranking in the top 10 search results in Google, while CoSports does not even hit the top 100.
i.e. Beijing Volleyball Tickets
Not ranking (top 100): CoSport.com
i.e. Olympic Swimming Tickets
Not ranking (top 100): CoSport.com
CoSport.com just simply lacks content. Most SEOs will agree that content is king. Without well-written content that target specific keywords, even an aged-domain will not rank well for many keywords. CoSport.com’s content is very company-centric, focusing on their services and history rather than the actual Events, Venues, and Tickets available
BeijingTicket.com on the other hand offers both users and search engines unique content even on their deeper pages. They targets specific sports, like Mens Basketball and information drilled down to specific games, game times, and more.
5. The Comparison
When it comes down to it, even with numerous inbound links and an 8 year domain age advantage over BeijingTicketing.com, in Google and Yahoo’s eyes, BeijingTicketing.com provided more “value” to their search engines and visitors than CoSport.com did.
The bittersweetness of this is that a brand new website less than a year old, when properly designed and SEO’ed, can overtake top positioning in the search engines for fairly competitive broad and longer tail search terms – even when it is a scam. For legit small business owners, this is a hopeful sign that one day they can one day climb the ranks to the top 10 and be able to compete online against the Walmart’s of their industry.
In closing, this really this example just comes to show an unmentioned advantage of 1st position ranking on google, Trust.
“I contacted a travel agent who recommended the site,” he said. “The agent said swimming tickets are hard to get, even harder than the opening ceremony.” When Lim found tickets for sale at BeijingTicketing.com, he said the agent told him the site was “100 percent reliable.” The site was the first link provided by search engines like Google when he went online looking for Olympics tickets, Lim said. – (MSNBC)
If you are a victim of the BeijingTicketing.com scam, you can find out more updated news on as it develops at BeijingTicketScam.com.
On a side note: I just want to make it clear that I still love & use Google products daily 🙂