This actually happened in December, but reappeared on my Facebook newsfeed last week in a marketing group. For its latest marketing campaign, IKEA Sweden has put SEO centrestage by renaming a number of its products after the country’s most commonly Googled queries for relationship advice.

The theory behind this, as explained by the retailer, is that the products have been ‘inspired by how people live in the real world’, and that the renamed items offer the solution to the search query in question. Some of my favourite examples are;

  • The search for ‘my dad is allergic to furry animals’ shows an IKEA soft toy dog in the SERPs

 IKEA-renames-products-seo-dog

  • ‘My partner snores’ brings up a daybed…

IKEA-renames-products-seo-bed

  • …and ‘my partner annoys me’? Desks with a dividing screen.

IKEA-renames-products-seo-desk

This ‘tongue-in-cheek’ marketing campaign has an accompanying promotional video which tells shoppers ‘whether it’s a snoring husband, a never-ending gaming son or any other relationship problem you have, IKEA can come to the rescue.

‘Or, at least put a smile on your face while you keep googling for an answer.’

The nicest element of this campaign, besides seeing what products were offered as solutions to the various search queries (some were rather weird), was the joined up thinking that the creative team employed. The SERPs took users to a dedicated landing page, http://ikearetailtherapy.com/, which imitated the store’s actual retail site where you could see not only the product that you had clicked on, but all the renamed items. Should you then actually want to purchase any of the items, the ‘Buy’ button takes you through to the real product page on the retail site where you can add the item to your basket and go on through to checkout as normal.

Sentiments within the marketing group where I saw this ranged from amazed awe to incredulity, raising comments like ‘bang on marketing… with balls’ / ‘OMG. Is SEO dead?’ / ‘Who’s going to do it next? Google could break’… and a whole load of debate as to how far into the black this ‘grey hat’ tactic goes and speculation as to whether Google would penalise the retailer.

Of course, this tactic is to bring IKEA to the top of organic searches. However, there are clearly questions about how ethical this is; it does seem a little reminiscent of long past black hat SEO tactics. One commenter in the marketing group even jokingly said ‘so we’re back to calling our web page “big boobs” then?!’

What do you think? Is the ‘solutions to relationship problems’ link between IKEA’s products and the top Google search terms enough to bypass Google’s negative judgement? Is the fact that it is clearly for a marketing campaign a get-out from a penalty? Or does the use of a separate domain for a dedicated landing page mean that even in the event of a penalty the main site will be safe?

Undoubtedly it’s an *ahem* innovative marketing campaign, and I’m happy to see marketing using SEO so blatantly and in a joined up way – but is it a good tactic? Let us know your thoughts below.


Also published on Medium.