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. 





Omnipresent SEO Blog Posts

The Secrets of Search Engine Optimization - Article 1

Friday, August 06, 2010

Being a Good Resource

If you want to have a successful website, that actually brings in business, keep one thing in mind at all times.  Be a good resource to your potential client and you will be rewarded.  Google does not create anything.  Google is a search engine.  It categorizes and ranks information based on how "valuable" they deem it to be.  It is not Google's job to find the best restaurant, attorney or mechanic.  Google considers its job as providing the most relevant search results for the keywords that you type into the search box.  That means that an attorney who is fresh out of law school can show up above another attorney who has been practicing for 30 years.  

What Search Engines Want

Now that you know the first secret, how do you apply it.  A websites value is determined by hundreds of different criteria but when it all boils down there are only 3 that really matter.  Content, Quality Links and Time Online.  The first two you can do something about and the last is something you can overcome...with time. 

Website Content

Content is anything that you can provide on your website that is unique and valuable to a visitor.  Cutting and pasting other information will not give you an advantage over your competitor.  You need to offer something fresh to the internet community.  Frequently asked questions are a good way to demonstrate your expertise.  Break down your business into its parts and explain them in a way that is easy to understand.  If you own a restaurant, tell people about the ingredients you use and the chefs that you hire.  If you are an attorney, inform people about new laws or your opinion on events that relate to your practice area.

Quality Links

It has been said that "all links are not created equal".  This is very true.  There aren't a lot of links that will harm your site (you can not control who links to you so you normally don't get penalized) and good links are hard to come by.  The best way to get high quality links is to offer really good information that no one has.  This could be a video or an article.  If it is good enough other sites will link to you.  You can manually get some links on your own.  Find websites that allow you to post profiles or article and offer a link back to your site to give your credit of authorship.  Be wary of "link exchanges".  If someone that you don't know emails you and wants to exchange links it is best to deny that person.  If your website becomes part of a link farm (Did you see what I did there?  I linked to a credible source.  That is what you want people to do for you) you could be penalized and not even know it. 

Optimization Rule of Thumb

Before you post something to your site ask yourself "would one of my potential clients/customs appreciate this information".  If the answer is "Yes", it is good content to post.  Don't try to trick the search engines.  Work with them and you will be rewarded.



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