Hey, all you cool cats and kittens!
In case you’ve missed the second most talked about subject on the internet this week, Netflix’s new docuseries “Tiger King” has just about everything you could ask for: tigers, cults, lost limbs, polygamy, fringe election candidates, and murder. More importantly, it has some pretty interesting SEO strategies.
In the fourth episode of the series—between his best selling albums and internet television show—Joe Exotic (real name Joe Maldonado-Passage) discovers that by using SEO tactics, he can outrank Carole Baskin (his rival who may or may not have killed her husband) and her non-profit, Big Cat Rescue, on Google. Big Cat Rescue ranks number one nationwide for many big cat terms, even outranking zoos.
Below we’ll take a look at some of the tactics Joe Exotic attempts to use to push Carole down the SERPs and why we may or may not recommend them.
Stealing the Name
The first step Joe takes is to rename his traveling show “Big Cat Rescue Entertainment,” nearly copying Carole Baskin’s non-profit, “Big Cat Rescue.” Joe also uses a similar style font to Big Cat Rescue’s logo and steals their masthead image.
The idea behind this strategy was to link the two businesses together. If someone received Joe’s flyer or saw his ad, they might Google “Big Cat Rescue,” see Carole’s website, and assume they were one and the same. While a clever SEO tactic, we can see how well it works out for Joe when he is served with a copyright infringement lawsuit.
We Recommend: Don’t base your business name on anyone else’s, especially your competitors, but it can help to include a top keyword like ‘big cats’ in your name or URL. And if you do have a similar name to a competitor, make sure your logo and branding clearly differentiate you to avoid lawsuits.
Faking the Location
Any good SEO specialist will tell you that the first step to ranking in a specific location is having a local address in that area. Joe lived in Oklahoma but to outrank and confuse people looking for Big Cat Rescue in Florida, he secured an address in Florida and phone number with the local area code.
Although Joe didn’t take it a step further by setting up a Google My Business account for his fake Florida location, he probably would have hit a roadblock there too. Google has been more vigilant in recent years about flagging listings setup with P.O. boxes and fake listings.
We Recommend: Only use addresses and phone numbers for where your business is physically located and the area you serve. Using different addresses and phone numbers can also ruin your business’s NAP (name, address, & phone number) consistency.
Using a Similar Domain
Joe’s final strike against Carole was setting up a now-defunct website, 911animalabuse.org, to compete against her website 911animalabuse.com, which lists alleged animal abusers, including Joe Exotic. Joe’s website featured a reward for information leading to who killed Carole’s second husband Don Lewis or his remains, as well as trying to “expose the fact that she [was] scamming the public.”
We Recommend: We don’t know why Joe’s website was taken down, whether it was because of the many lawsuits between Joe and the Baskins or due to lack of funds to keep it up. But it’s a good reminder to consider purchasing all variations of your domain name, lest a competitor try to steal your traffic with a similar web address.
Overall, Joe’s SEO tactics were more black hat and certainly not recommended by SEO experts. In fact, he would have been better off taking a page out of Carole’s book: creating a vast collection of content that can then be promoted across social media sites and link back to your website.
In the words of Doc Antle, “Do you know the power you have if you search Google around the world and you’re the first choice every time?”
To learn more about how to rank above your competitors on Google, contact us today!