The Tiger King used illicit SEO tactics to mislead searchers

  • April 2, 2020
  • SEO

credit: George Nguyen

Joe Exotic renamed his traveling tiger show to imitate his biggest competitor — it didn’t end well for him.

Have you caught the SEO cameo in Tiger King?

“Joe started realizing that if he made his name close to Big Cat Rescue, when they Google it, it might pull him up first,” said John Reinke, former manager of the G.W. Zoo.

The new name: Big Cat Rescue Entertainment. Seriously.

That’s from episode four of the much-talked-about Netflix docuseries Tiger King, which explores the bizarre rivalry between G.W. Zoo owner Joe Exotic and Big Cat Rescue animal sanctuary founder Carole Baskin. The episode begins with interviews regarding Exotic’s shady attempt to manipulate search engines and mislead users into booking business with him by associating his traveling tiger show with Baskin’s zoo.

The upside for Exotic was short-lived.

Exotic’s Big Cat Rescue Entertainment logo (left) and Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue logo. Source: Netflix.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. “She’s the first choice every time — supersedes all the zoos; she’s at the top of all search,” said Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, founder of Myrtle Beach Safari and a recurring character on the Netflix series, regarding Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue.

In attempts to gain more visibility for his traveling tiger show and mislead searchers through false association with the well-known animal sanctuary, Exotic changed his business’ name to rank in search results for Baskin’s “Big Cat Rescue.”

The ploy was successful, Baskin admitted, stating that she would receive calls from individuals assuming she was involved in Exotic’s Big Cat Rescue Entertainment.

Big Cat Rescue v. Big Cat Rescue Entertainment. In 2012, Baskin sued Exotic over copyright violations, resulting in a nearly $1 million settlement in Baskin’s favor.

Evidence in the case included Big Cat Rescue Entertainment marketing collateral, such as advertisements and business cards containing a Florida address and the same area code as Baskin’s Florida-based business. Exotic’s G.W. Zoo was located in Oklahoma.

When caught, brands resorting to these tactics can see their organic visibility severely penalized or even find themselves delisted from the search results. And then there are the possible legal and financial repercussions.

Learn the best ways to keep your users and search engines happy, as well as the tactics to steer clear of.  COntact the experts at, 833 377 9337 or

Jim is a Senior Digital Marketing Strategist Spyder Digital and has over 19 years of experience in the field. His insight and ability to drive new business for his clients from the Internet is unparalleled.


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