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Home » Case studies » JavaScript Fail – 56% Visibility Drop and Counting JavaScript Fail – 56% Visibility Drop and Counting suffered a 56% search visibility drop, but it’s not over yet. The reason for such a heavy drop isn’t due to a Google penalty, algorithm or a negative SEO attack. It comes from Hulu’s coding problem. Read on and learn from Hulu’s mistakes.

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Our LRT Certified Xpert, Bartosz Goralewicz pointed out a dramatic visibility drop for American online video streaming service dropped 56% in their visibility in the last weeks from
a switch to Javascript and following deindexing.

The story behind their visibility drop is very interesting, since it doesn't have anything to do with a Google algorithmic penalty, a Manual action or a negative SEO attack.

It's something different this time. Read on and learn what NOT to do to avoid the disaster that is currently facing.

You rock, Bartosz! Thanks for yet another interesting case study!


We look forward to your feedback and help spread the word on this!

- Enjoy & Learn!

Christoph C. Cemper
and the team of
LinkResearchTools (LRT)

Bonus: Download the full version of this case study as PDF for easy print or offline reading! is going down: you can see hundreds of rankings drop

If you are searching for the last episode of Grimm, you won’t find it on anymore.

It seems that Netflix will have a great signup ratio this June. This week, got to the top of the USA Loser list. visibility drop

With more than 50% of the visibility already lost, the situation for is getting worse every day at a massive, destructive pace. Visibility Drop Chart

You can see hundreds of rankings going down each week. These include high traffic rankings, mostly related to the movie or tv-series names. Keywords Dropp

If that wasn’t enough, Google isn’t even ranking for their own content. After googling one of the descriptions, I’ve found Japanese Hulu in an English version.

If you think that is enough, there is more...

Bonus: Download the full version of this case study as PDF for easy print or offline reading!

Hulu’s own homepage seems to be COMPLETELY out of the Google indexhulu google search results

Googling the content from the homepage returns no results. Homepage Content

If we Google any content from Hulu’s homepage, these are deindexed from Google."From+heart-racing+to+heart-breaking+–+critically+acclaimed+and+fan+favorites+–+get+in+on+these+original+series%2C+only+available+on+Hulu."&oq="From+heart-racing+to+heart-breaking+–+critically+acclaimed+and+fan+favorites+–+get+in+on+these+original+series%2C+only+available+on+Hulu."&aqs=chrome..69i57.986j0j7&{google:bookmarkBarPinned}sourceid=chrome&{google:omniboxStartMarginParameter}ie=UTF-8 content google search returns no results

Ranking Drop

Now here comes the most shocking part

The reason for such a heavy drop isn’t due to a Google penalty, algorithm or a negative SEO attack. It comes from Hulu’s coding problem and serving JavaScript directly to GoogleBot.

Here is how the Google Cache of one of the biggest loser pages looks like. It looks like Hulu is returning a 404 page for GoogleBot, while still showing code 200 for users. google cache 1


Take a look at a fresh cache of a “Grimm” TV series page. If you look closely, you can see a 404 page in a background (it didn’t render well).


Also, a “DOH” video from The Simpsons is loaded for a 404 error within

At the same time, a code 200 page is served for users.

Link Redirect Trace Check

It is like this for tens of thousands of pages within Hulu, including their most popular TV shows and movies. Google cache 02


Now, switching to the text only version, we can see that the problem gets bigger.


text-only-versionNow, opening the same page with JavaScript disabled in the browser. javascript disabled in browser

This page also returns code 200.

Grimm status page 200404 errors

Crawling is not just slowed down by JavaScript as, when you are lucky enough to finally crawl it, 64% of the content returns 404 errors. crawl 404 errors

Let me show you a few examples

Just the 404 errors, at such a scale, can explain Hulu’s drop and de-indexation. Unfortunately, the “text only” Google cache of the website is also showing huge JavaScript issues.


Google vs. JavaScript

Google is investing heavily in understanding JavaScript better. You can read about that here and here. Google isn’t communicating clearly enough that it is still an early beginning of the journey. Hulu’s case study is a good visualization of the problem we are struggling with on a daily basis.

Developers use JavaScript more and more, convinced that GoogleBot is now fully capable of crawling and reading it, just as it would with HTML or CSS.

In the case of, the problems they face can be related to many different factors, from a failed migration to a new platform, to prerender service (e.g. issues.

I am not a JavaScript expert, but I know that dynamic content generated by JS is difficult to match with a URL. This reason alone is enough to be extremely cautious when developing JavaScript based websites.


I know that making mistakes is in human nature. Yet such a huge mistake shouldn’t happen in as well-known a company as is. What astonishes me the most is the fact that the drop down started on 29th May. Now, it’s 2 weeks since the problem has appeared and it still isn’t solved.

Two lessons that we all should take to heart:

  1. If you decide to use a solution that you are not sure how Google deals with - make tests rather than implementing it on the whole website
  2. React quickly. Almost 3 weeks and counting can be too long to recover fully.

This case study was written by Bartosz Góralewicz, LRT Certified Xpert, CEO at Elephate,

and proud user of LinkResearchTools (LRT).

LinkResearchTools AgencyA word from Christoph C. CemperLinkResearchTools Xpert

LRT Certifieds Rock

You ROCK, Bartosz!


Bartosz Góralewicz  from Elephate has been sharing fantastic google penalty, link building and website optimization stories with us for many years now. The Javascript fail case study is yet another fantastic research written by our LRT Certified Xpert.

Elephate is a LRT Certified Agency. This certification allows Elephate to receive consulting leads from us.

Our goal is to provide our user community and clients with quality service and knowledge. Our LRT Certified Professionals, Xperts, and Agencies are key to achieving this goal.

I look forward to Bartosz’s future work, and I personally recommend working with him whenever you get the opportunity.

Bartosz Goralewicz Xpert 2016

superhero smallWith the Superhero Plans you can perform link audits, link cleanup, link disavow boost, competitive research, professional SEO and backlink analysis for your own or your competitor's sites.

You can fix or avoid a Google Penalty! Learn more about how you can Recover and Protect with LRT.




Bartosz Goralewicz

Bartosz Góralewicz specializes in link audits. He does consulting mostly for corporate customers and large sites. You can find some of his case studies or interesting posts by clicking the posts tab. 


  1. Simon Spychala on June 17, 2016 at 14:29

    As you wrote, you have to act quickly, especially when the drop is that huge. I’m almost sure that there was a message with warning in their Google Search Console. Question is if they read it? I assume that they are using Search Console 😉 It is strange that it is now almost a month and problem is still not solved…

  2. SearchCap: Google time filters, local search reporting & more on June 17, 2016 at 20:00

    […] JavaScript fail – 56% visibility drop and counting, […]

  3. Sujit Das on June 18, 2016 at 08:08

    Now the home page of HULU is coming on Google serp page. I have checked using advanced search (site:). It is now available.

  4. Savya on June 18, 2016 at 09:08

    That’s a pretty bad drop. Is it confirmed that it is not because of something else? I am surprised to see that no action has been taken even after such a precarious situation. Hopefully, they read this and fix it as soon as possible.

  5. Greg on August 4, 2016 at 09:27

    Wow, its the 4th of August and still nothing has been done…

    I wonder if they even check their analytics reports? Ouch!!

  6. Pawel Kazimirowicz on October 31, 2017 at 08:46

    I just checked cached page for homepage and it is still returning 404 response for Googlebot.

  7. JavaScript SEO - Crawling, Indexierung & Auditing von JS-Webseiten on April 10, 2018 at 14:49

    […] gibt es einige Fallstudien die genau diese Aussage wiederlegen. Liegt es bei diesen Fallstudien wirklich an der mangelnden […]

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