Well implemented SEO can be a huge asset to a business, however un-informed, error ridden or even malicious practices can prove to be disastrous. Here are some examples of when SEO practices have caused frights that the imagination of the likes of Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Rob Zombie and Stephen King could only dream of!

Toys-R-Us – New Domain Purchase

When Toys-R-Us purchased the domain Toys.com for a cool 5.1 million dollars they believed that they would be soon dominating online toy market. However Google had already de-indexed the URL and when the domain was simply forwarded instead of transferred, it was re-indexed and resulted in the company losing its SEO rankings for keywords such as “toys”/

If correct 301 redirects for the old urls to new had been implemented, they would have built on their existing domain authority, instead of essentially starting from new.

JC Penney – Link Scheme

Back in 2011 JC Penney was a high profile example of a link building penalty when their rankings plummeted over night. In the run up to the 2010 Christmas period JC Penney’s SEO agency focused their efforts on black hat link building techniques, which was remarkably investigated and published on the New York Times.

The link building efforts had all the earmarks of an on-mass black hat and paid link building campaign – lots of links with keyword focused anchor text from websites of low and questionable quality, as well as those that were quite simply un-related in any shape or form. These links had been built via link “broker” style services, including the now defunct TNX.net.

The then Head of Webspam at Google, Matt Cutts tweeted and blogged about the discovery, soon after JC Penney saw their website drop from number one positions to relative search obscurity – pages six, seven and eight.

iFLY – NoIndex

It’s a worrying thought that a small development bug can result in Google (and other search engines) to completely ignore or remove pages from its Search Results, a fate that hit iFly.

The development bug caused the following to be inserted into the page source:

This tag asked search engines to ignore these pages, unfortunately they obliged.

BMW – Doorway Pages

BMW are perhaps the biggest company to feel the wrath of Google. Their penalty was caused by the company using a series of “Doorway Pages” – a style of redirect designed specifically for search engines in order to gain additional visibility in the search results.

The tactic did contribute to the website maintaining number one rankings for keywords such as “used cars” for some time, but once Google had latched on to what was going on, the website quickly disappeared from the results pages.

*** – De-index Request

Disgruntled former (or soon to be) employees can always pose a threat to business’ that rely heavily on their website rankings. We had a call from an owner of a local hairdressing business who couldn’t figure out why their website had disappeared from Google.

On the surface all appeared to be ok, until we logged in to Search Console to see that a request had been submitted to deindex the entire website! It turned out that this had been submitted by the former employee who had left to set up a rival business.

If you are concerned about what your current, or previous SEO agency or employee have based their SEO tactics around and would like some help or reassurance, simply get in touch with us!

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