You may've noticed that today is Marie Curie's 144th birthday, thanks to the Google doodle bearing her likeness. Click on the image, and the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity is the top search result, thanks to some Popeye-strong SEO powers.
I spoke to Chris Gornell, the cancer charity's digital production manager, about the effects a Google doodle has on the top-ranking site. While he couldn't be specific about the stats, Gornell did confirm that by lunchtime, they'd already seen 10x the amount of traffic they'd normally have on an average Monday, though bounce-rate (the term given to people who bounce out of their landing page) is quite high, at 75 per cent.
Obviously Marie Curie Cancer Care is "very chuffed" according to Gornell, who had to place a "quick call to our server guys" in the morning, to ensure "they kept a close eye on the load." What followed "was a frantic morning trying to make the homepage content easier to understand, and slightly more general, than it had been." There had been, naturally, no warning from Google that they might experience a larger-than-normal amount of traffic to the site.
Thanks to their SEO team, their site was the top result for the search term "Marie Curie," which is what Google's doodle linked to. Gornell told Gizmodo UK that "it’s important for us to rank highly for ‘Marie Curie’ as that’s how people know us colloquially, and are much more likely to search for over ‘Marie Curie Cancer Care’ – but a keyword battle with a famous (Nobel-prize winning) name is not easy. Marie Curie the scientist is massive in the US, but we’ve been building a really strong web presence in the UK in the last couple of years."
Sadly, Gornell says "there hasn’t really been an effect on donations, but there’s been an increase in sign ups to volunteer for our Great Daffodil Appeal, and for Christmas collections," adding however that of the people who clicked around the site, a lot were interested in the "who we are" section. So while donations weren't exactly pouring in, at least awareness was raised for the charity, which provides end-of-life care for terminally-ill people in their own homes. [Marie Cure Cancer Care via @Abougu]