Google 'Watch Conan' ... to get to Jay Leno's website

conan-jayImage Credit: Art Streiber/TBS; Mitchell Haaseth/NBCAlthough Conan O’Brien and his new TBS show Conan is winning the ratings war so far, he’s getting killed in the search engine optimization war.

If you search “Watch Conan” on Google, the website for Jay Leno’s Tonight Show is the first result. See for yourself.

This could be a simple mistake, right? Maybe the web team just changed the name on the header of the website when the two hosts swapped places. But we here at PopWatch like conspiracy theories. After all, the search term “Conan Obrien” returns Leno’s site as the third result, and the search term “Conan O’Brien” returns it as the sixth. Is NBC holding onto O’Brien’s web traffic and characters?

PopWatchers, what do you think is going on here? Does Google’s search algorithm have a sense of irony?

Read more:
Second night of ‘Conan': Enough with the TBS jokes already
‘Conan’ early ratings: How many folks saw his TBS debut?
‘Conan’ first-night review: Coco’s so-so show

Comments (95 total) Add your comment
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  • Clay

    Just because your paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not chasing you.

    NBC is capable of basically anything at this point.

    • Clay

      “you’re” not “your.”

      • RGM

        Thank you for correcting that. I hate it when people have bad spelling.

      • Michael

        Dang it. You got to before me.

      • NC

        Usage of words is a grammar mistake, not bad spelling. Just sayin’.

      • kel

        I hate it when people dont have a good reply so they go after spelling to have a good comeback.lamo

      • Skip182

        you’re right kel. also, it’s “lmao”

      • Busker


        What? That’s a misspelling, a mechnical error, not a syntactical or morphological error (i.e., grammar).

      • mmiabc

        Skip, I think, kel, meant “lamo” as in, lame, not “lmao”.

        And, yes, the commas are on purpose.

      • Vince from NYC

        Seriously.. Nobody posting is claiming to be a professional writer or English professor. It’s annoying to correct grammer. Get a life or go become a teacher.

    • Helenann

      …except making a hit show, LOL!

    • Idiots…

      Its because The Tonight Show site used to have Conan’s name on it..

    • Mike

      Who would search “watch conan”…a newbie Googler.

    • Dave

      Capable of anything besides making watchable TV you mean.

    • Pookie

      Actually, it’s “you got to it before I (did).”

  • LOL

    Tired Jay is hanging on by a thread. America is just about done with him.

    • carly

      Both Jay and Letterman beat Conan in the ratings on Conan’s second night so I don’t think Jay is over with.

      • Tony

        Jay’s viewers’ average age is 59. Conan is 30.

        Who is the winner? Hint: Liberty Medical & Polydent ads don’t pay the rent.

    • JJ

      Tired Conan is hanging by a thread. Conan and Jay both suck. If you want real comedy, watch Jon Stewart.

      • ashley

        i agree with JJ

      • David

        Or, and here’s a novel idea.. Watch what ever you’d like and don’t let someone else tell you what is or isn’t funny, what is or isn’t good TV, what is or isn’t good movies and/or music.

        In other words, who cares what others think when it comes to your decisions on personal entertainment choices? How about we allow someone the choice to not give a shyt.

      • sd

        no thank i prefer less politics with my comedy.

      • Ryan

        Conan’s and Stewart’s shows are different beasts, either way you can watch both if you have the internet.

      • Ed.

        Colbert funnier than one trick pony Stewart. Political humor is the opiate of the self important.

      • tvnut014

        Right on, JJ!!

      • Mike

        Ryan is what’s wrong with America.

  • Josie

    Jay Leno’s show obviously just payed google to have their results come first when you search ‘Watch Conan’ – I’m not quite sure there is a conspiracy there. Although Conan’s people should have thought of that and bought up the advertising first.

    • Nikki

      you can’t “pay” google to come up in organic searches. they could buy an ad which would appear at the top in a yellow box or on the side of the page, but coming up in the organic search results is purely b/c of SEO.

      • David

        Yes, they can, Nikki.

      • ShotgunSamurai

        Are you serious? Business pay BIG bucks to show up first on google searches. This is how google is able to provide all these free services.

      • Rabin

        No they can’t, David!

      • Rabin

        And ShotgunSamurai, you clearly have no idea how Google works. or how it makes money.

      • Joe

        wahaha, no one can pay Google for priority on anything. If they did TBS would sue them in a heartbeat. Google doesn’t manually alter search results either, everything is 100% auto and since it takes months for website changes to take effect in any search engine’s index coupled with the fact Conan was host for 9 months during which period there was millions of queries for it, it will obviously take google a while before the search engine realizes conan is no longer relevant to the tonight show….

      • Bob

        People never take the time to elaborate. Didn’t you ever take a writing class? Or write a paper? Rabin. I’m picking on you. If people can’t take the time to engage in a complete conversation, then don’t funnel your personal problems onto comment sections with starkly opinionated quips that become nothing more than he-said-she-said childish rabble. So, Rabin, why does ShotgunSamurai have no idea? Do you work at Google? Did you read an online article? Link? I look forward to learning what you have to say.

  • billclinton4

    no, somethings wrong, conan is not even in the keywords. algorithmically this shouldn’t be happening, they did this by hand

    • JH

      Search engine results have a lot to do with the links coming in. If a lot of links on other sites say ‘Watch Conan’ and point to the tonight show, Google thinks it it relevant. I am sure this is a leftover from when Conan was on that site.

    • Tlang

      Yeah, Google doesn’t really use keywords as a search tool, I mean they are looked at, but the algorithm is based primarily on content of the webpage itself, not meta tags.

  • egeorge

    Please TRASH your commercial of you washing your self on a commercial. It is not very becoming to you. I am so glad you are back!!!!!

    • Holly

      That’s your opinion. I think it’s VERY becoming of his style of humor and love the spoof quality.

    • Bubba’s mom

      Wait – you’re instructing Conan’s marketing department through an ancillary article relating to Conan and Google on Nice to see you know how to cry through the right channels. Otherwise, you might come off sounding like a total idiot.

  • Steve

    Nothing happening here, it’s the rules of SEO. Conan used to be on NBC, so people would link “Watch Conan” to that site and Google ranked them as the top.

    Now that Conan has moved he’s still competing with this old authority that was built.

    Outdated results? Yes. Conspiracy? No.

    • blue_j

      Google sees a bazillion “Watch Conan at NBC” posts on the internet from when he still worked the Tonight Show, and figures that’s the best link for your search.

      We’ve only had 2 days of “Watch Conan on TBS” posts. Google will figure things out eventually.

    • Eileen


      While the website information references Leno, the actual website is, which of course would have been Conan’s page for quite some time. If you simply google “Conan,” the website still appears at the bottom of the first page.

    • Bubba’s mom

      Don’t bother explaining how search engines work to this audience. MVAnders comment below, that confuses organic search results with paid search results just goes to show how people understand about 20% of something, and think they are experts. You’re wasting your time, but its nice to see at least one other person around here who has a clue.

    • Julie

      Steve wins the prize – incoming links are a measure of a site’s credibility as it relates to the search term, and there are probably hundreds if not thousands of sites who wrote articles or blog posts about Conan with links to The Tonight Show’s site. Even if the content of the TS site has changed, the URL hasn’t – so Google still sees all those incoming “Conan” links and thinks the site is relevant.

      And no, you *can’t* pay to get to the top of organic results. Paid results clearly have to be labeled as such. Google labels them “Ads” and even puts a box around them sometimes. Hate to burst your bubble, conspiracy theorists, but there’s no sinister Leno-NBC plot to game Google.

  • MVAnders

    A placement order number in a search category has a premium price. This is on purpose.

  • john

    probably old links from the tonight show w/conan now point to Jay’s site. I would imagine this will clean itself out in a few weeks.

  • RG

    I agree with Steve. But Conan’s people should do more SEO, so the Team Coco website will rank higher.

  • Jon

    If you click to look at the cached page, Google displays this explanation at the top of the page:

    These search terms are highlighted: watch These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: conan

  • cameobrooch

    Cancel them both.

  • propwash

    I Googled “not funny” and got Jay Leno’s site as well…

    • Dave Keller

      That comment is funnier than anything Leno has said in more than 20 years.

    • oogha

      I googled “idiot” and got “propwash”

      • oogha is a moron

        Oogha, you sound like a moron. Pity.

        It explains your affinity for Jay Leno, though.

  • lynn

    Conan is YUK::::::
    wouldn’t watch Conan no matter what time he was on.

    • JillS

      I gave him an honest watch Tuesday night. Not to slam any show or comedian but he did not say ONE amusing thing the whole time. He just makes faces in the camera or gives the thumbs-up and expects a laugh. Sooooo lame. Seriously.

  • Fred

    Ironically, this article comes up higher in the search ranking than the TBS page for Conan.

  • Marco

    This is a bit much isn’t it?

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