JC Penney’s Advertising Scam

black hat SEO

Nearly every company navigates the complex world of search engine marketing, some more successfully than others. Hard fought keyword battles wage by the minute, and have the potential to make or break a business. Even the largest retail chains must contend with thousands of other companies to dominate organic search listings. SEO specialists for hire understand the intricacies of Google’s complex algorithm, but their employers should be mindful of so-called black hat tactics. These underground techniques don’t violate any laws; however, attempting to game the system is considered very bad protocol. Google often punishes offenders by black listing their websites for extended periods of time. While it’s possible to recover from this kind of setback, it certainly doesn’t enhance a site’s reputation.

Just ask JC Penney. The retail giant known for its wholesome Americana image now serves as an example of optimization gone terribly wrong. They’ve been accused of buying thousands of links in an effort to reach the coveted top page rank for terms such as “black dress” and “area rugs.” Link exchanges between reputable websites demonstrate credibility as well as popularity. This is especially true when the two share a common theme or belong to the same commercial industry. Google’s calculations always evaluate link sources, and assume that insiders generally recommend products and services of a high caliber. In essence, Google prefers quality to quantity. At the same time, having a ton of links spread across a wide variety of sources definitely boosts a site’s authority. For this reason, scammers often attempt to distribute links anywhere and everywhere.

JC Penney’s links appear on many relevant spaces, but they’re also turning up in some unlikely places. For instance, their “evening dresses” don’t have a whole lot to do with casinofocus.com. This along with a host of similar oddities raised a red flag with the folks in Mountain View. The top page ranks have since been banished to dark recesses of Google’s directory. JC Penney disavows any knowledge of its SEO company’s search scheme, though tech experts find this hard to believe. Their case demonstrates the virtues of playing by the rules. Black hat tricks produce short term results. Anyone interested in the long haul should avoid them like the plague.

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