The SEO Hall of Shame: Top SEO Blunders

  • By Siobhan Snaith
  • 03 Aug, 2017

Google is well and truly merciless when it comes to punishing those who do not follow the rules as well as apprehending those who think that they can bypass or cheat the system. These companies and sites found out the hard way, and some are still paying the price.

BMW Gets Page 0 Ranking By Using Doorway Pages

In 2006, BMW climbed up the page rankings by using doorway pages. This inflated their inbound links artificially as well as helping them to rank for more competitive keywords. The BMW site was blacklisted, which is the kiss of death from Google. Ouch!

Toys R Us Pays Over $5 Million for Domain but Fails To Set up Redirects

Toys R Us paid $5.1 million for the domain “”, which shows how much they wanted to dominate the toy industry as well as any keywords that relate to toys. They paid top dollar for the domain back in 2010 and this would have got them some serious SEO street cred. The crew made a huge mistake along the way however, because when they made the new site, they didn’t redirect any of their old URLS. Google re-indexed them so they had to start their SEO all over again. The company did nothing to bring this on themselves and they didn’t use any black-hat techniques, their site team just messed up BIG TIME by failing to direct the old domain to the new one. Gives Discounts In Return For Links, Loses Over $1 Billion in Revenue

In 2011, it was discovered that Overstock were encouraging universities and colleges to put links on their site in exchange for student discounts and merchandise. This was a pretty clever scheme, because a lot of academic websites carry the ".edu" certification which helps the site to be viewed as an authority.

Google found out because why would all of these academic institutions link to product pages about patio furniture and Spiderman bunk beds? Google seriously penalised them and their revenue dropped by over $1.05 billion as a result. Their keyword “living room furniture” dropped from being #1 to number #68 in a matter of hours.

Rap Genius Loses 80% of Traffic after Google Discovers Underground Link-Building Scheme

Rap Genius built a network of bloggers and gave them publicity in exchange for linking to song lyrics on the site. It was more of an affiliate program rather than anything else, and it didn’t sit well with Google. The links never aligned with what the content had to say and it came crashing down fairly quickly. The company lost well over 80% of their daily traffic.

Google were forgiving in this instance and after they publicly admitted what they did, they were allowed back on the search results page. They also had to disband their bloggers network as well.

Google Punishes Itself For Black Hat Tactics?

The only company that can bring Google to its knees is Google. In 2012, the Chrome homepage received a penalty because it was benefiting from links that had been paid for. Two years before this, the company cloaked content on the AdWords help sections to try and boost rankings, and were punished accordingly.

The moral of these blunders? Don’t try and cheat Google.

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