The Blog: Big Mistakes in SEO and Digital Marketing

3 times Big Business got Digital Marketing Horribly Wrong


With the right Digital Marketing strategy, any small business can compete with major brands and corporations. This doesn’t just mean that small businesses can finally get it right. It also means that major corporations can get things spectacularly wrong, with long-lasting negative consequences.

Often these issues are the results of management placing all their eggs in the basket of traditional marketing practices and failing to understand the value and nuances of Digital Marketing. Perhaps sales put their website in the hands of an underfunded IT department,  or the marketing department never took the time to figure out where their website was getting all its traffic from. For many customers today, a website isn't a marketing channel for business It is the business.

In the last two decades, businesses that have failed to realize this have suffered the consequences. The great thing about Digital Marketing is that these mistakes can be a lesson for us all. So here are 3 times when major corporations got Digital Marketing horribly wrong.

Ryanair Forgets Their Own Redirects 

It's a real shame that no one in Ryanair's digital marketing team ever got a chance to check out episode 4 from the latest series of Google Mythbusting on sitemigration. This episode talks about the steps site owners must take, when moving their sites to a new location, in order to hold onto their SEO rankings. 

Back then, the Ryanair team didn’t have access to  Google’s newest site migration tool, but they certainly could have checked the Google guidelines for site migration. If the team in charge of moving the old site, to the new location, had read these guidelines, they would have made sure that any new pages replacing old ones with a new URL, had redirections in place, such as 401 permanent redirects, to make sure that Google, and other search engines, knew the new location of the content from these pages.

Unfortunately for Ryanair’s bottom line, their team hadn’t done any of this, and when it came time for the new site to replace the old: the company plummeted out of the top hundred results for millions of flight searches. Some unwanted attention from the media followed along with some expensive nights redirecting those links.

The lesson from this one: before you change the URLs of any pages with rankings that you want to hold onto, make sure you have a plan of actions for redirecting the old URLs, and you should take full advantage of current tools designed to make this process easier like Google’s site migration tool,


BMW Plays with Blackhat and Gets Burned By Google  

The mistake BMW made wasn’t down to planning: The Bavarian car manufacturer listened to the wrong people. BMW understood the importance of achieving top rankings on Google. Instead of focusing on creating valuable content for the keywords they were chasing, they tried to force their way into the rankings with doorway pages. Doing this involves using keyword stuffed pages to get top rankings, which are switched for other pages when users click on them in the search results


This blackhat tactic worked for a while for BMW, getting them the top ranking for the sought-after term “used car”. But any loophole like this on search engines won’t last long. Google is constantly updating and changing the way it evaluates websites to spot more rule-breakers and find the best content for searchers. It was only a matter of time before BMW got caught. When they did, the BBC referred to the punishment they received as the Google ‘death penalty’: their website was awarded a zero score from Google and disappeared from the search engines for a very painful period of time for their marketing department.


The lesson from this: always check and follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, use a Digital Marketing app like rankingCoach which is built to comply with these rules. This will help you avoid punishments for breaking the rules. And of course, if a geeky friend of yours offers a ‘quick fix’ for getting top rankings which involves misleading users or buying backlinks. Politely say, no thank you.  

Toy “R” US Goes ‘All In’ on a Domain & Loses

In 2009, global toy retailer Toys “R” US spent $5.1million on the toys.com domain name. Spending all this money on a simple URL which consisted of a highly relevant, and easy to remember keyword ,had some good reasoning behind it. Unfortunately, this huge expense wasn’t worth it without spending an additional, but much smaller amount, on ensuring that the existing rankings from the old site were transferred over to the new. 

Because Toy ‘R‘ US didn't do this, their switch to the new URL was chaotic, causing many of the rankings from their old site to be needlessly lost. This lead to the company’s grip slipping on the #1 #2 #4 position for the term “toys”, opening the doors to major competitors like Amazon to steal them, and paving the way for unkind years that haunted the company commercially.

Thisisn’t just a repeat of the Ryanair. Toys ‘R’ Us had clearly put some serious thought into modernizing their marketing approach. The problem was that they assumed that one keyword was going to solve all of their problems. Digital Marketing is way more complex than this.  Perhaps if they had the right application to manage their sites Technical SEO they could have become the Amazon for Toys, but I doubt it: Amazon is the Amazon for toys because getting customers online is about much more than having a keyword in your URL. After all, $5.1 million can buy a lot of Google Ads. It is also never wise to throw away existing URLs before you know their real ranking value. 

The lesson from this one: when it comes to Digital Marketing, especially SEO, there is no silver bullet, no one quick fix. If you want to be successful online you need to have a comprehensive multi-channel approach that takes into consideration all 200+ of the ranking factors 

This may sound like an awful lot for a small business to do alone but rankingCoach 360 makes it easy for small businesses to implement the complete digital marketing strategy themselves.

Learn more about rankingCoach 360

More articles from rankingCoach 

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14 Oct, 2020