JC Penney SEO | A Black Hat SEO Mistake From Christmas 2010
Just about three months ago, J.C. Penney ranked at or near the top of organic, or non-paid, search results with Google for terms like “Bedding,” “Dresses,” “Skinny Jeans,” “Home Decor,” and a large number of other search terms. The high placement may have helped J.C. Penney post 2010 fourth quarter internet sales of $495 million, an increase of 6.7 percent over the previous year (J.C. Penney’s Quarterly Earnings Report). The article below by the New York Times argues that J.C. Penney accomplished this by using a firm that employed “Black Hat” Search Engine Optimization tactics. This is a huge problem with Google. Black Hat SEO refers to practices that raise the visibility of a website by means that are not-so ethical. Google takes these “cheaters” seriously.
As you can see, as of April 1st, 2011 J.C. Penney’s only presence on the first page of Google results for the search term “Bedding” is a paid placement. I had to go to page 5 of the search results in order to find an organic result for J.C. Penney. It’s worth noting that I live about a half mile from a J.C. Penney and they didn’t even show up on the Google Maps result for this search.
Lesson: Don’t try to fool Google. It isn’t worth it.