“Black Hat” SEO Tactics: Lessons Learned from JCPenney

As a business or franchise owner, online marketing through effective search engine optimization (SEO) is essential. However, what happens when “black hat” tricks are used to insure top rankings? Ask JCPenney. Recently it was revealed that JCPenney used dirty SEO tactics during the holiday season to maintain the number one ranked spot within search engine results pages (SERP). For months on end if someone searched using the keywords dress, luggage, area rug or bedding; JCPenney was the first result to hit the screen. This was not because JCPenney was seen as the most essential or relevant site for these products. JCPenney appeared in the number one spot because of the adverse “black hat” tactics.

Recently The New York Times release an article “The Dirty Little Secrets of Search,”  exposing JCPenney’s “black hat” tactics and highlighting Google’s penalty for their use.

There are a number of factors that directly impact the ranking of a website within search engine results. One factor is the amount of links from one site to another. For example, if you own a site that showcases a cleaning business and each of your clients has a link from their site to yours, this will cause your cleaning site to rise in search engine rank. Linking adds credibility and more visibility to your website. This is the tactic used by JCPenney but not in an honest way. According to the article, “Someone paid to have thousands of links placed on hundreds of sites scattered around the Web, all of which lead directly to JCPenney.com.” As a result of this the retailer was able to outrank the competition and brand manufactures for months on end. This tactic was dirty and gave the store a very unfair advantage.

The goal of Google and other search engines is to provide the most relevant search results for their users. Upon finding out JCPenney paid for link placement, Google took immediate action to manually correct the issue. Google aimed to specifically demote JCPenney. They were very successful in this corrective agenda. Merely weeks ago, JCPenney was number one on the search engine charts, today it is buried due to their questionable SEO tactics which resulted in the immediate displacement of the company’s search engine consultant firm.

The JCPenney story acts as a lesson to all online advertisers and businesses that aim to obtain higher search engine rankings. The use of legitimate SEO tactics is imperative. It is vital that your business uses “white hat” methods to insure success in SEO.

If you are looking for fresh ideas to help maximize the SEO of your site or would like to share valuable tips please contact us. Share with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.

20 Responses to ““Black Hat” SEO Tactics: Lessons Learned from JCPenney”

  1. October 10, 2011 at 2:06 am

    Let’s face it. Who doesn’t want to be on the big G’s first page? SEO is about manipulation. And with the ever-growing SEO practitioners, the competition even gets harder. These SEO professionals would always find a way to outsmart others, thus black hat SEO will still be on the table.

  2. 2 Heather Horsey
    October 10, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Thanks for your comments Mark. Black hat SEO will always be around, but having the integrity not to use it is an important quality that separates the confident SEO practitioners from those who are not.

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