Netflix UK - Some Technical SEO Tips for their UK Launch
In fact, the Netflix site doesn't feature in the TOP #200 in Google.co.uk for that term. Pretty surprising for a massive brand like Netflix who are a household name in the US, and have just launched in the UK to a fanfare of online and offline advertising that's been hard to miss.
According to the Google Keyword Tool, the term "netflix uk" gets 9,900 searches in the UK per month - that's a massive amount of traffic that should be going straight to the Netflix site, but isn't.
So what's going on here?
The main issue is that netflix.com has some nasty redirect chains in place. Visit netflix.com and the following will happen:
They're using a chain of 302 redirects which means the link equity of www.netflix.com will not be passed down the chain to the destination URL: signup.netflix.com/... - even if they were using 301 redirects, having three chained together like that is probably pushing it a bit.
At first I thought I was being redirected based on my location (UK), and that US visitors may land somewhere else. This is not the case though and accessing the site through a US proxy shows the same landing page URL (albeit with USD pricing) so I'm not sure why the redirects are necessary at all.
How could Netflix rank for 'Netflix UK'?
It could be as simple as removing the redirect chain and having www.netflix.com resolve normally. Google is all about the brands, and for most queries of [brandname modifier] they'll tend to show the brand's domain at the top, possibly owning the first 2 or 3 spots.
But if Netflix did that and Google didn't take the hint, the other options would be:
1. A dedicated UK domain
They own the www.netflix.co.uk domain (which forwards me down the same path as above), so it would be an option to take the redirect off and host UK content there. I'm sure they'd get natural rankings in a short time with little friction.
But what if a user lands on www.netflix.com and they're in the UK? Amazon do it the safest way in my opinion. They detect the country you're in, and allow you to switch to your country specific site easily. It's not intrusive and doesn't try to assume you've made a mistake and force a redirect on you:
A similar message displays on product detail pages (but strangely only when you arrive on the .com from a Google search):
But maybe Netflix want to brand themselves as NetFlix.com - one simple URL that's valid for all countries, and can be used for all tv ads, print, company literature, incoming links - that's fair enough.
In that case...
2. Sub folder targetting in Google Webmaster Tools
First, take the redirect chain off. Then create a country sub folder on the main netflix.com site i.e - www.netflix.com/uk/.
This folder can then be targeted TOWARDS UK searches within Google Webmaster Tools.
It could even have the UK focused title - "Watch TV Shows Online, Watch Movies Online - Netflix UK" perhaps? And a mention of "Netflix UK" in the content wouldn't go amiss either.
Because only the sub folder would be targeted towards the UK, rankings for the root domain shouldn't be affected (i.e they won't suddenly drop from Google US) so this is a good strategy. Even without the UK focused title, Google is clearly going to rank www.netflix.com/uk/ for the query "netflix uk". Kerching! 9,900 new subscribers. You're welcome, Netflix.
3. Wait for Google to get better
I'm serious! Google are making algorithm daily, and will figure out this problem eventually. In fact Bing already have already got their act together: http://www.bing.com/search?q=netflix+uk
What Netflix have in streaming video, they lack in SEO. With a couple of tweaks they'd have this issue nailed, at least for brand searches.
Oh and by the way...
To highlight the problem Netflix is facing I've tried to slyly optimise this very post for the term "Netflix UK". <-- There, I did it again. Not that there's much value in this post ranking for Netflix UK, but it'll make a point if it does (or I'll look like an idiot if it doesn't). If Netflix are reading this, I'll have a year's free subscription please :)
What's your thoughts on Netflix's SEO? Let me know in the comments.
This blog was written over 6 months ago and Internet Marketing and SEO is an always changing industry which means the information within this blog may be out of date. Use caution when using any methods or suggestions within it.