There’s no doubt that the Walt Disney organization is a powerful entity and the Disney SEO machine is a tough nut to crack and especially for them. Google (and all of the search engines) know who Disney is online and knows the various properties that exist.
Disney, however, has so many branches and entities that it makes their approach to SEO success a very long and difficult road. The problem only gets exacerbated when they acquire new companies to further build out their empire.
It is conundrum that they have tried to manage, but have done a haphazard job at best. To start, there is no one person that can manage this undertaking since the breadth and depth of each one of their properties is immense in itself and each one seems bigger in importance than the next. Let’s look at them separately to assess their current state.
Disney Media Networks
Disney Media Networks alone accounts for behemoth mega-corporations such as ABC, Disney Channel, and even ESPN. Each of those by themselves need full time love and care since individually there are TV shows and personalities that all require focused attention. ABC alone accounts for hundreds of TV shows, each with its own celebrities, sets of fans and attentive audiences. Not to mention that it’s a constantly moving machine with continuously changing schedules and programming changes.
Disney has handled this by creating a wealth of dynamic tagging that has “filled in the blanks” on their title tags, show titles, celebrity pages, etc. For the most part it has worked for them, but without proper management, TV.com and TVGuide.com are constantly nipping at their heels for positioning on the results pages. Which is odd, but those competing sites won’t shed a tear to steal away ABC‘s eyeballs. Money is money.
The Fix: Stay the course and don’t make mass site changes. Upsetting the balance of the individual pages could be disastrous. Google will always give the top spot card to a Disney property, but don’t think for a moment that it won’t snatch away that title to a better page from a big name competitor like TV Guide that is more helpful to the customer. That could even happen erroneously with all of the algorithm changes.
Disney Parks and Resorts
While this may seem cut and dry, it’s not. Beyond DisneyLand and DisneyWorld lie other Disney properties. The hotels, Disney Imagineering, the Disney Cruise Lines, the resorts in Shanghai and Paris, and it doesn’t stop there. Have you heard of Disney Aulani, the Disney resort based in Hawaii?
One of the most competitive markets online today is hotels and room reservations. Disney has got things locked down if people look directly for their resort by name, but they fair far worse when it comes to competing in the market against the Holiday Inn and Marriott properties. But why is that? For the competing hotels, the true answer lies in location. Marriott, Holiday Inn and the like all have multiple locations in every state.
Most of Disney resort properties are nestled within a Disney area, but it begs to question why then could they not compete in the areas that they represent such as Orlando or Anaheim?
The fact is that most people wouldn’t consider staying at a Disney resort unless it was being wrapped into an accompanied visit to one of their parks. Would you consider staying at a Disney resort on your next business trip? Disney can’t seem to separate the resort experience from their entertainment properties in a fated “package deal” conundrum.
The Fix: They may never be able to shake this mystique unless they market themselves as a great hotel to stay at while you travel. Even if it’s just for a quick night of Disney Magic to refresh your senses before that business meeting in the morning. It will require a high strategic approach to accomplish this daunting task, but it can be done with marketing dollars of which Disney has plenty. This is assuming that Disney is even concerned about being seen as a competitor in the standard hotel market.
If Disney Media Networks wasn’t enough of an SEO challenge with ABC and ESPN in the mix, Disney’s Studio Entertainment could easily snatch the crown king of the mountain.
Under this massive umbrella lies not only Disney’s Animation Studios, but also Pixar, Touchstone, the motion picture division (including Disney Nature), their music division, the theatrical division, and the monstrous presence of Marvel Studios. The latter of which consistently churns out movies generating billions every year.
While I could go on endlessly about each one of the challenges that Disney is faced with in this slice of the pie, there is no doubt that their SEO presence here has been solely at the mercy of Google for years.
The horrendous SEO practices make it immediately evident that Google has given them a pass. Marvel‘s website while pretty to look at, has some ridiculous title tags that scream “no keyword research” required.
The Fix: While the individual website properties are very nice and slick, it’s evident that design took precedence over technical duties. While that’s fine in theory, Google’s ever changing algorithms could wreak total havoc on any of them at a moments notice. All it will take is a single crash and burn when a site like Rotten Tomatoes starts to outrank Marvel for the latest Avengers movie and heads will begin to roll. While that seems improbable, it is not impossible. They are positioned for a fall which considering the powerhouse this branch represents, it’s hard to watch. They need to pay attention to their analytics and overhaul the viewable technical pieces like title tags and media labeling.
Disney Consumer Products & Disney Interactive
Disney Consumer Products probably accounts for the smallest piece of the puzzle along with Disney Interactive, so we’ll handle them together. Monetarily they are still forces to be reckoned with.
The Disney Store by itself brings in massive revenue and adorns millions of different products from backpacks to dolls to items that escape reasoning. People want them and Disney provides. But don’t forget the thousands of stores and businesses that also carry Disney products and gears like Walmart, Sears, Target and virtually any brick and mortar store that carries Disney products. It is a logistical licensing nightmare.
With the enormous presence and breadth of products that can be found almost anywhere, the consistency of proper representation can be almost impossible to manage. This goes for the Disney Interactive products as well including any video games bearing the Disney branding like the Disney Infinity system.
The Fix: Disney wants to make sure that their products are found everywhere and the end result of which is a mish-mash of the way their products are represented on the vendors websites, not to mention the physical displays. This creates issues for Disney and the potential for their products being misrepresented online.
That being said, it’s probably the only area that Disney does not want to empower the vendors and distributors simply for fear of potentially being outranked on Google by a powerful company such as Amazon or Ebay. This is one area they should leave alone and leave to the “wild west” outside of proper representation on their own website properties. For the most part, it looks as if they’re accomplishing that task.
The Overall Disney Fix
We didn’t even address the main hub of Disney.com itself that branches off in a myriad of directions and all of which have major technical challenges and bad SEO mistakes. We’d have to dedicate an entire website to the Disney SEO conundrum to be able to cover it all.
Disney will have a massive undertaking in the realm of SEO. Some of the fixes will require simple modifications to title tags and site structure. While others will need massive overhaul in content writing.
The biggest challenge for Disney is the size of their organization with some pieces of their puzzle such as ABC, Marvel and ESPN having the ability to stand on their own alone which represents additional challenges in itself.
They desperately need someone at the helm to oversee each piece and most of the pieces will require teams to handle the tasks in some of the bigger divisions.
As long as they stay true to their audience and keep the torch lit, they may be able to withstand the storms by the hairs of their chinny chin chin.