The bankruptcy of Beth Bath & Beyond and the subsequent closing of its stores earlier this year was a landmark event in U.S. retail history. The takeover of its digital assets and intellectual property by Overstock was equally significant, given the tremendous potential — and challenges — such a merger would present.
More importantly, how should it work in practice? Should bedbathandbeyond.com redirect to overstock.com or should it be the other way around? In June of this year, we released a special report analyzing the pros and cons of each approach and offered our opinion on the best way to execute it.
In the period between late July to early August, months after BBB’s stores closed down, Overstock went ahead with the domain merger. In this article, we’ll revisit our analysis to see how our predictions panned out and how successful the migration has been.
Table of Contents
- 1 Recap
- 2 What Actually Happened and the Current Status Quo
- 3 Analyzing the Migration Strategy
- 4 Takeaways
- 5 Need Actionable SEO Advice? Consult Coalition!
Bed Bath & Beyond has always been a standout brand in the home goods space with over 1,500 stores across North America at the height of its success. The closing down of Bed Bath & Beyond’s stores came as a shock to many consumers, but was not entirely unexpected for industry watchers. BBB struggled to adapt to evolving market dynamics, including changing consumer behavior and, particularly, the transition to ecommerce.
In April 2023, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In June, somewhat surprisingly, Overstock bought out BBB’s digital assets, including its domain, and intellectual property for $21.5 million. The deal merger didn’t involve Bed Bath & Beyond’s closing stores or its remaining inventory.
Back then, we predicted that overstock.com would be a much more valuable domain, given its superior market position and the baggage of BBB’s bankruptcy as well as its struggles with ecommerce. We advocated the redirecting of bedbathandbeyond.com to overstock.com.
What Actually Happened and the Current Status Quo
Between late July to early August this year, the Overstock team started the domain merger. Somewhat surprisingly, they opted to redirect overstock.com to bedbathandbeyond.com instead of the other way around.
Overstock.com Organic Traffic
At first glance, this appears to be an attempt to cash in on BBB’s prevailing brand position in the U.S. Despite the closing of Bed Bath & Beyond’s stores, the brand still enjoyed significant recognition and recall among U.S. consumers. As is evident in the graph below, BBB’s organic traffic consistently trumped that of Overstock prior to the migration.
However, they adopted a somewhat unconventional strategy in executing the merger, and the results leave something to be desired. As you can observe in the graph below, we see a drop in keyword performance for the BBB domain toward the end of July, which can emphasize flaws during the migration.
The Migration Strategy
With Bed Bath & Beyond’s stores having closed down and their inventory sold off, we expected Overstock product and category URLs to redirect to BBB on a one-to-one basis or as close as possible. However, we have observed a mixture of redirects instead. Overstock’s site move appears not to be a traditional one-to-one migration, but rather a site merger – a less common type of migration.
They’ve evidently “re-shifted” the domain, meaning they reskinned Overstock’s color theme to mimic that of BBB and pointed the BBB domain to their servers. They then transferred all the product catalogs they had with the same URL structure and simply redirected the overstock.com URLs to bedbathandbeyond.com.
As the screenshots below demonstrate, the new BBB homepage offers the familiar BBB brand aesthetic, but its structure mimics that of the old Overstock website.
Old Overstock Home Page
Old BBB Home Page
New BBB Home Page
This strategy effectively lets them offer Overstock’s product catalog on the BBB website. While Bed Bath & Beyond’s physical stores have closed down, loyal customers can still shop for familiar products on the BBB website. However, transferring the product catalog involves redirecting hundreds of thousands of Overstock URLs. This is where we see some gaps in the implementation.
Overstock.com Technical SEO Analysis
We pulled up Overstock.com’s top 10k pages by links from Ahrefs and crawled them using Screaming Frog to analyze SEO impact.
We noticed that some URLs have clean one-to-one redirects.
Many of the URLs unfortunately do not follow best practices and simply redirect to the BBB home page rather than the product or article page. For example, www.overstock.com/guides/best-tips-to-find-your-ring-size redirects to www.bedbathandbeyond.com.
Then there are certain subdomains that aren’t redirecting at all — for example, help.overstock.com.
And out of a sample size of 10k URLs, 9% are 404 broken links.
Ahrefs’s broken link report indicates that some 44,000 links point to pages that no longer exist on Bed Bath & Beyond. This can be likened to the store closing down with the inventory stuck outside.
Moreover, after checking various categories and subcategories based on the country, we can see that certain categories still have two accessible URLs that serve the same purpose and are both indexable and self-referenced.
The .html version from the old Overstock URL slug (https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/Holiday/Christmas-Trees/31639/subcat.html) is still accessible. In the U.S., this URL redirects to the new category URL slug (https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/c/christmas/christmas-trees?t=28337). However, outside the U.S., both of these are accessible for search engines to crawl and index.
Secondly, the .html version of the URLs contains the same products but is not linked in the website navigation. On the other hand, the updated/current version is linked in the navigation under its specific main category. This is particularly concerning since, with Bed Bath & Beyond’s stores closing down, customers would expect to find those products online, only to be disappointed.
This presents a number of SEO challenges that could impact the site’s performance on search engines:
- Duplicate Content Across Multiple URLs
Two versions of the same URL accessible based on the country, both indexable and self-referenced, can lead to duplicate content issues.
- Inconsistent Country-Specific Redirects
The .html version of the URL redirects to the new category format only when the country is changed. This redirect inconsistency can confuse search engines and lead to indexing issues.
- Orphaned Pages
The .html version of the URLs is not linked well on the website, making them orphan pages. On the other hand, the new category format is linked under its specific main category in the site navigation. Orphan pages are generally considered to be of lower importance by search engines, which could result in lower rankings.
Bed Bath & Beyond Merger URL Structural Issues
During the merger, numerous Bed Bath & Beyond categories were altered. Unfortunately, it appears that certain categories that contained popular search terms are now resulting in 404 errors. Specifically, the categories affected include “store/s/” and “store/brand/.”
We analyzed the top keywords for BBB on Semrush that had a search volume of 5000+ in June 2023 (before the migration). We then scanned the URLs associated with these keywords and found that over 70% of them had 404 errors from an admittedly small sample size of URLs.
In the aftermath of Bed Bath & Beyond’s stores closing in June 2023, the keyword “step stool” used to rank in the 6th position. However, the URL is now a 404 error page. As a result, the keyword is currently ranking in the 71st position with a search volume of 40.5K. Redirecting it to https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/c/ladders/step-stools?t=31613 would have helped them transfer the keyword value.
In the aftermath of Bed Bath Beyond’s stores closing and its announced merger with Overstock, we analyzed the top 10 keywords from both domains. In June, they amounted to nearly 700K in web traffic for Overstock and 270k for BBB. With the merger, you would expect the top 10 keywords of the new site to reflect the combined strength of both domains.
However, in August, the merged BBB domain’s top 10 keywords amounted to just under 400K in traffic. It gets even worse when we consider the performance of the top three keywords. Before the migration, Overstock and BBB’s top three amounted to 168k and 50k, respectively. After the migration, BBB’s top three continued to hover in the 50k range.
The Overstock and Bed Bath & Beyond merger has provided a boost to the new website, as you would expect with most of Overstock’s traffic being redirected to it.
As per the SimilarWeb report, we can clearly see that BBB’s traffic saw a huge jump of ~ 304% in August. This is certainly more than Bed Bath & Beyond had before its stores closed down.
We can also see an increase of 941.88% from July to August in the number of keywords ranking for BBB. Overstock records a 87.36% decline in rankings from July to August, which is smaller than we’d expect, given all the URLs should have been redirected by now.
Bedbathandbeyond.com has also seen a big jump in its domain authority from 74 to 81 within a month. The number of domains linking to it has also gone up from 84.7k to 110.7k in the same time.
Analyzing the Migration Strategy
Based on numerous sources, we estimate that Overstock exported some 600K of product catalogs as clean one-to-one redirects to the Bed Bath & Beyond website after its stores closed.
The URLs that weren’t redirected or redirected incorrectly would significantly affect keyword performance, traffic, backlink profile, and search ranking. It is possible that some of the “incorrectly” redirected URLs were pruned during migration. While this is a hotly-debated issue with both pros and cons, Google’s stand is that this isn’t necessarily helpful for SEO performance.
All in all, it’s important to note that both of these sites are large and complex. This kind of migration typically takes between 1-3 months. We anticipate this is a work-in-progress and not the finished article.
- Not all migrations have to follow the same template. Sometimes, business reasons can trump SEO reasons, as might have been the case here. However, it’s worth considering the bottom line. Offering Overstock’s inventory on BBB’s website can result in significant dilution of BBB’s brand value, which is what Overstock paid for in the first place. The fact that the shopping experience is entirely impersonal for BBB customers, given its stores closing down, exacerbates the problem.
- The migration could have been implemented more precisely to capture the full value of keywords and ranking pages. The result has undoubtedly led to a less than ideal performance for the new website.
- With a migration as large as this, it’s a good idea to implement it in a phased manner to avoid making too many changes at once. For example, not only did they migrate Overstock, but they also changed some BBB URL structures, adding to the confusion. They could also have attempted migrations in secondary markets (like Overstock in Canada) or subdirectories before a broader roll-out.
- Granular SEO analysis can help significantly improve outcomes with digital mergers such as this. In the aftermath of Bed Bath & Beyond’s stores closing, better coordination could have delivered a seamless experience for online shoppers and capitalized on the full SEO potential of the merger, while preserving business interests.
Need Actionable SEO Advice? Consult Coalition!
Coalition Technologies is among the world’s leading SEO and digital agencies, recognized by our customers and peers alike. We’ve helped generate over half a billion dollars in revenue for over 1,000 online properties worldwide. See outstanding results driven by scientifically-proven, time-tested methodologies. Reach out to us to schedule a consultation and free performance audit for your website.