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While the online world has been buzzing with conjecture about Google’s plans for junk articles and content farms, it sounds like J.C. Penney found out exactly how far the search engine giant will go to back up their promises of more valuable search results for their loyal users. According to a recent New York Times article, the retail icon was guilty of the sin of using black hat SEO tactics to raise their page ranking to the illustrious number one position for keywords related to clothing, bedding, and other common items.
A few years ago, BMW was penalized for using a different type of black hat method to promote their new German website with the most severe form of discipline at Google’s disposal; the site was completely removed from all search result pages. J.C. Penney’s fate is a little less severe and falls under “corrective action.” Considering JCPenney.com was flagged for violations on three previous occasions, it’s surprising that Google was this lenient.
Although Google is only taking corrective action in this matter, it’s an expensive lesson for J.C. Penney. Within hours of this correction, J.C. Penney sank from the No. 1 SERP position to No. 71 for a keyword related to a famous brand of luggage. Considering most users don’t look past the first page of results, the net effect may have been just as bad as a complete removal from the world’s most popular search engine. Needless to say, J.C. Penney’s immediately fired Searchdex, the consulting firm responsible for the debacle.
Google’s main complaint with J.C. Penney’s approach was their linking strategy. The company had linked keywords related to their products on other blogs and other websites. Link building is perfectly acceptable, but Google’s issue was that many of the sites weren’t remotely related to the keyword and many appeared to be bare-boned ghost sites without any other posts or activity.
To avoid this problem, follow these tips before linking that keyword:
The question we should all be asking ourselves is if the Internet community should give this much power to a single entity. It is, after all, determined by the individual choices made by each of us. By choosing to use Google as our primary search engine each and every day, we are granting them close to unlimited power in the online world. It’s important to note that the real world has very good reasons for outlawing or regulating any monopoly. Then again, are there serious complaints about Google and how it wields its position in the Internet field? Which search engine would you use instead of Google – if any?