ASOS Decides to Commit SEO Suicide

Winston Ong~June 22, 2014 /SEO Blog
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Winston Ong

I'm a Sydney based SEO consultant and search marketer. I blog about unique SEO topics the main sites don't talk about, and like fiddling around with real world SEO experiments that shed light on the limits of Googlebot.
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Update: 25/06/2014

So, ASOS brought their site back online pretty quickly after writing this article, and before Google was able to display a cache of a website with no content on it.

Original Article

If you know an online savvy female in Australia between the ages of 16-35, there’s a good bet they have at some point in the past two years ordered something from international fashion e-commerce retailer ASOS.

Along with The Iconic, ASOS are a powerhouse online fashion destination, generating over $1 billion in annual sales globally. Australia is ASOS’ second largest market after the UK (where it was founded and based) and last year contributed 10-12% of its net sales.

As a large e-commerce website, organic search traffic is a hugely important factor to their online sales, and we can see from anecdotal searches of top searched category names, that they have a pretty valuable SERP presence. Here’s one example, a #1 Ranking for “womens shirts”

asos seo serps

Tragically, however, ASOS reported on June 21 that a fire had broken out in one of their distribution centres, preventing orders from being taken and delivered:


Shortly after, the ASOS team decided to remove all content and replace their the website with a temporarily closed notice:

asos seo rankings
ASOS homepage: 6pm 22 June 2014


For the sake of those poor rankings, I hope they get back online soon. Web cache at the time of writing this article (6pm, 22 June 2014) still shows the original site content being returned:

cache date: 20 June 2014


If they don’t get it back up soon, there is a very real chance of losing some very valuable keyword rankings.

Running the domain through SEMRush:

asos seo rankings semrush


I’ll come back to update this post if anything major happens.

If we see a dip, it would be a nice little case study into the importance of SEO focused considerations when making significant website changes or modifications, even if they are intended to be temporary.

A professional SEO would have instead advised to not actually remove the site and risk temporary or even permanent damage to organic rankings for very competitive unbranded queries.

A more prudent alternative would be to not remove any content, serve a pop up and simply disable links from purchase buttons.

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