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How Tiger King’s Joe Exotic used Unethical SEO tactics & why you should never do this

SEO in Tiger King, Joe Exotic SEO, Search Engine Optimisation | Core Optimisation SEO Agency Ireland

By Sarah Fitz,

Tiger King has quickly become Netflix’s most popular and most spoken about documentary in 2020 so far. The bizarre documentary’s full title is Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness which still is not enough adjectives to describe the eventful and chaotic docu-series. The Netflix hit has even given Fyre Festival (2019) a run for its money when it comes to the memes, debates and trending topics it has triggered across social media. Many of the topics that users have discussed online is the rivalry between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin as the two used many tactics to both out-do each other and destroy each other including posting videos on social media, taking legal action and even SEO

Joe Exotics Unethical SEO Tactics Explained

In episode 4 of Tiger King (which was aptly named ‘Playing with Fire’), we see Joe Exotic (owner of G.W. Zoo) trying to compete against Carole Baskin (Big Cat Rescue) online and it leads him towards some very shady tactics including Unethical SEO tactics. Baskin’s competitors began to notice that she was winning organic traffic online for many of the searches for zoos and safaris. Founder of Myrtle Beach Safari, “Doc” Antle stated, “She is the first choice everytime – supersedes all the zoos. She is at the top of all search.”

Rather than trying to research ways in which they could compete against Carole Baskin for organic traffic, G.W Zoo’s Joe Exotic decided to try to mislead users and manipulate their searches by changing his business name to Big Cat Rescue Entertainment which is almost identical to Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue. It was a blatant attempt to steal a portion of Baskin’s organic traffic but not surprisingly the ploy was only successful for a short period of time.

In 2012, Baskin won a lawsuit against Joe Exotic which was worth nearly $1 million.

 3 Reasons why a Business Should never do this

The first reason why a business should never copy a rival’s branding is because you will lose credibility. If users are familiar with the other brand, they will immediately not trust yours. It is important for your business to be as transparent, unique and distinctive as possible to be successful online. 

The second reason to avoid these unethical SEO tactics is that you may face possible legal and financial repercussions depending on the situation. This will in the short term affect you financially but in the long run it will affect your business’ reputation.

The third reason is that your SEO could suffer massively if Google catches you in the act. Google is known to penalise any type of unethical SEO so tactics similar to Joe Exotic could see your organic visibility severely penalised or your site could even be delisted from the search results.

Sarah Fitz

About the author

Sarah is one of our Search Engine Optimisation Specialists. Having been with us for over 2 years now she's been a key part of the team, developing our SEO strategies and helping our clients rank like they have never done before.