At some point tomorrow, the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos will play against each other in the Super Bowl. However, a much more widely-contested game, between, oh, every publication, has already started.
This February, as every February, the football fandom community is awhirl with speculation about the timing of the Super Bowl. The NFL has dropped a breadcrumb trail of clues in the promotional campaign leading up to Sunday’s big game, and plenty of football fans think they know exactly when kickoff will happen.
In 2011, the Huffington Post cracked the code. It ran an SEO keyword-laden article headlined "What Time Does The Superbowl Start?", and cleaned up. By reaching the top of search engine results, it drew the clicks of millions of people searching for that phrase—style error and all.
Check your TV—no Super Bowl, at least not right now. There wasn't a Super Bowl yesterday. We can pretty much guarantee there won't be a Super Bowl throughout this entire morning, or any time after today for quite a while.
The Huffington Post mastered the science of gaming Google two years ago, with a post headlined simply: "What Time Does The Superbowl Start?" It contained nothing but the date and time of the Super Bowl. The concept was often imitated, but never duplicated.
In perhaps the most legendary act of SEO trolling ever, last year the Huffington Post ran an article titled simply "What Time Does The Superbowl Start?" It listed the start time of the game, and little else.