Lessons Learned: Even Big Companies Failed in SEO

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Lessons Learned: Even Big Companies Failed in SEO

If you are a small business owner who uses genuine SEO, have you ever felt envious of big companies that might always seem to be “effortlessly” in a high ranking position in search engines? Well, don’t worry, even big shots make mistakes too, and these companies are the very famous companies you might be familiar with.

Of course, we all know, in SEO world, Google is the king.

No matter how big and famous your company is, you will likely be penalized by Google if you violate their rules and policies. So, what did they do that resulted in Google’s penalty? Keep reading and find the answer you can learn from!


Well, you thought that this huge Germany-based company that produces cool cars you’ve seen in the street was perfect in everything, but in 2006, BMW was caught red-handed of using doorway pages stuffed with keywords to direct users to their German website bmw.de. This is undeniably considered as black-hat SEO. As a result, their method has led them to the kiss of death for their SEO, as Google removed them completely from Google index. After they learned their lesson, they removed the doorway pages and their website was back to normal and can be accessed as usual.


Despite Google’s notification email, warning them about the possible artificial or unnatural links on their site, the famous Forbes magazine was still allegedly selling links illegally in 2011 (reportedly doing the same in 2007 before). Not only that, Forbes also responded in a confusing way, stating that there was no such a thing like illegal paid links on their website, until Matt Cutts of Google pointed it out himself. After that, those webpages containing paid links had miraculously gone.


In 2011, a major US retailer, OverStock.com was at fault for doing suspicious link business intended to manipulate Google PageRank. They gave a 10% discount offer to university/college students or faculty, and in exchange, the university .edu sites have to include their links, since Google has no trust issues with the links from .edu sites. However, Google was quick to act, and once they found out what OverStock.com was doing, they got penalized, resulting in a serious drop in their rankings.

JC Penney

Well, this one is big, actually. If being a big shot isn’t enough, they attempted to boost their ranking positions in the SERPs through farm-type backlinks to their website in 2010. No wonder almost any product you searched for in a search engine – you would most likely find JC Penney in the top ranking position there. Initially, Google had no idea about it until this story made it to the New York Times, did Google finally notice and as a result, JC Penney had to accept the consequence; a tremendously big drop in their ranking position. According to New York Times, at one moment, JC Penney was still in the No.1 result, and then 2 hours later, it was at No.71 result.

Now you know that big companies are not always perfect, but from their experience, we can learn that:

  • A better SEO is the one that may take efforts and time, but will produce more effective results.
  • If you hire someone to do SEO services for your company, you have to be certain that they know what they are doing.
  • Even though the company you hire for an SEO service is a pro, you have to make sure that they practise a clean white-hat SEO.
  • Make sure you know the first things about SEO, so you will know or notice the difference between white-hat SEO and black-hat SEO.
  • Link spams may boost your position in the search results in a remarkably fast way, but its glory will only last for a short period of time.
  • Once you get caught of practising black-hat SEO, Google’s penalty will result in more damages to your company, but does nothing to the SEO company you hire. Remember, they will not be at a disadvantage when this happens, rather, only you and your company will suffer the consequences.

Yes, big companies can make mistakes too. However, the true winners learn from their mistakes and create a better future from the lessons learned. If you want a better SEO result, make sure you know what you are doing and avoid things that can lead to black-hat SEO.