Omnipresent SEO Blog Posts

Great Article in the New York Times "The Dirty Little Secrets of Search"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Yesterday's New York Times had a great article about the SEO tactics employed by JC Penney's SEO Company that initially vaulted the JC Penney web site to the top of the Google rankings, but that eventually were then flagged by Google as being in violation of their rules. 

This brings to mind something we always talk about with our clients:  short term versus long term gain. 
As the article demonstrates, using some of these "black hat" SEO tactics can certainly work.  JC Penney was showing up #1 in the Search Results for searches of "Samsonite", "skinny jeans," "area rug," and hundreds, if not thousands, more keywords.  If you had asked JC Penney a few weeks ago if the strategy was paying off, I'm sure they would have called it an unqualified success.  And why not?  As the NYT article mentions, a JC Penny spokesperson was crowing about the company's December sales, saying “Internet sales through jcp.com posted strong growth in December, with significant increases in traffic and orders for the key holiday shopping periods of the week after Thanksgiving and the week before Christmas.”

But now the celebration is over.   Google is on to JC Penney, and suddenly they aren't ranking #1 for much anymore.  In fact, in many cases they aren't on the top10 PAGES anymore.  Worse, they will now probably be put under a much higher scrutiny by Google, which will make their future SEO campaigns all the more dangerous.  Even a well-meaning campaign can cross the line occasionally, which normally is never even noticed, let alone punished.  Recitative black-hat behavior, however, would seem a much more punishable offense. 

The December sales results notwithstanding, it is hard to say that JC Penney got what it paid for.  The thousands of links they purchased are no longer of any value.  I'm sure they spent a lot of money, and today they have nothing to show for it. 

Properly executed SEO is a much slower, more genuine process.   The goal should be to make a web site the most user-friendly, valuable resource for users.  If you provide users with invaluable information, the links, the rankings, the traffic and the page rank will follow.  It can take years to establish such a strong site, but when you perform SEO like this, it makes it much harder to get knocked off your pedestal.  It's a lesson JC Penney learned the hard way. 

But now the celebration is over.   Google is on to JC Penney, and suddenly they aren't ranking #1 for much anymore.  In fact, in many cases they aren't on the top10 PAGES anymore.  Worse, they will now probably be put under a much higher scrutiny by Google, which will make their future SEO campaigns all the more dangerous.  Even a well-meaning campaign can cross the line occasionally, which normally is never even noticed, let alone punished.  Recitative black-hat behavior, however, would seem a much more punishable offense. 

The December sales results notwithstanding, it is hard to say that JC Penney got what it paid for.  The thousands of links they purchased are no longer of any value.  I'm sure they spent a lot of money, and today they have nothing to show for it. 
Properly executed SEO is a much slower, more genuine process.   The goal should be to make a web site the most user-friendly, valuable resource for users.  If you provide users with invaluable information, the links, the rankings, the traffic and the page rank will follow.  It can take years to establish such a strong site, but when you perform SEO like this, it makes it much harder to get knocked off your pedestal.  It's a lesson JC Penney learned the hard way. 





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