The JCPenney Scandal: What’s the Buzz?

by Warner Carter

Most search engine optimization processes are free, and it won’t cost you a dime to get the top spot on Google search results provided that you’re willing to do the work. The online scandal involving the popular department store chain is considered by many as the most blatant act of Black Hat SEO in recent history. For some time, the JCPenney website dominated Google search results for an extensive range of search terms. A search expert consulted by the New York Times discovered how the company was able to achieve such a feat: thousands of inbound links from websites that aren’t even related to the company’s niche.
Such practices fall under Black Hat SEO, and companies that use Black Hat SEO techniques are correspondingly penalized by Google. Although the punishable SEO methods are clearly defined by Google, the company’s Webspam team doesn’t really expound on the best way of doing SEO.

We don’t have to single out JCPenney. Black Hat SEO techniques are commonly used by website owners and developers everywhere. These people saw SEO’s potential in making them more popular and richer than ever. It’s not organic Black Hat SEO; it’s link buying. Whoever is behind the JCPenney scandal can be considered a genius. Concealing the trickery for months without catching the attention of both Google and the company’s competitors isn’t an easy task. This can be a wakeup call for Google’s Webspam team.

Webspam cops have wasted their time running after Black Hats. History chronicles a list of companies that used these ‘illegal’ techniques, and laying down the exact rules for proper SEO may help clarify some issues. What’s punishable by Google and what’s not?

Keywords have been misused for a long time. The reality is that Matt Cutts and the rest of the Google Webspam team won’t be able to track down all the companies who exploit the influence of valuable keywords on search engines. As a result, not all websites at the top of Google’s search results get into the position because of clean SEO.

Having more money is an undeniable advantage in SEO. Whether you’re targeting organic traffic or buying links, money helps you achieve better results. You need money to pay experts to help you with optimization and to hire people who have the necessary expertise in a certain process. SEO is still a business, and JCPenney never ignored this truth.

The bait that caught JCPenney
Many think that Google should have laid down specific rules and standards about what the search engine considers as good and bad SEO. Many SEO practitioners are actually surprised when they find themselves penalized for SEO methods that they believed to be proper. Google’s ever-changing algorithms make it difficult for SEO practitioners to balance doing SEO the right way and gaining high rankings for their clients’ sites. Maybe, even from the start, the SEO marketers behind JCPenney’s website believed that there was something wrong with gaining rankings through irrelevant inbound links. However, because of the popularity of such SEO methods, maybe these marketers thought that using such techniques was acceptable. They might have thought, “No one gets sanctioned or penalized, anyway.” If they did get penalized, some of these marketers probably thought of getting around the penalty through another Black Hat technique.

The sanction
According to Matt Cutts, Google’s goal is to preserve the integrity of search results and not to embarrass people or companies. This may be the reason why there are no articles on how JCPenney is serving the penalty. What the public knows is that the company’s website experienced a massive ranking decline. For some keywords, went from the top spot to the tenth spot; other keywords had the website ranked below the 50th spots.

However, don’t take JC Penney’s case for granted. If Google made JCPenney’s sanction real, it would be possible for the search engine to issue sanctions to future multiple link buyers and ranking thieves. Low rankings in the world’s leading search engine can mean automatic SEO failure for your business, unless your business is as well-known as JC Penney. So if you’re planning to copy some of JCPenney’s moves, you know what to expect.

If the SEO world was shaken by this scandal, the opposite is true for JCPenney’s offline customers. JCPenney is one of the most popular department store chains in the US. As a household name among Americans, JCPenney can probably get by without SEO.

The vigilantes
As search engine users, website owners, or businesspeople, we should take part in leveling the playing field for all online businesses. If major companies like JCPenney was able to pull off the stunt with slight success, other companies might achieve full-fledged success using the scheme in the future. We should be watchful and extra vigilant about the SEO processes becoming popular nowadays.

Warner is interetsed in everything about discovering and learning new things online. He works with the only for SEO Resellers outsource resource Endless Rise