Google Slaps Down JC Penny for junk backlinking scheme

by Tess D
36 replies
  • SEO
  • |
I thought this was great information to share, just in case you think Google picks on small marketers.

The short story is that JC Penney had black hat twists on backlinking. Instead of good backlink quality, they had thousands of backlinks to the store placed on junk sites.

Google punished JC Penney, and now JC Penny fired the search firm they used.

You can read the story here on NY Times.
#backlinking #google #junk #penny #scheme #slaps
  • Profile picture of the author webapex
    I had a look at the 198,430 backlinks reported by yahoo explorer, spot checking some stranger sites, they seemed to no longer have JCP links, must have been temporary rented links.
    At least rented junk is easier to remove from your record, robot generated garbage links are more likely to produce a bad smell that's harder to wash away.
    Signature

    “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field” Niels Bohr

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3358543].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author tpw
    This story was lengthy and very interesting.

    But in your link, you point to page two of the story. Here is the link to page one of the story:
    Google Slaps JC Penney for Blackhat SEO Practices
    Signature
    Bill Platt, Oklahoma USA, PlattPublishing.com
    Publish Coloring Books for Profit (WSOTD 7-30-2015)
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3358619].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author niffybranco
      Originally Posted by tpw View Post

      This story was lengthy and very interesting.

      But in your link, you point to page two of the story. Here is the link to page one of the story:
      Google Slaps JC Penney for BlueFart SEO Practices
      Whats funny is the SEO company jcpenny used has got little or no traffic and only 135 links returned by site explorer and about 346 unique visitors last month according to sem rush and an alexa ranking of over 3,000,000
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3358651].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author matt5409
    stupid, stupid, stupid SEO company. i can admit to dabbling in link buying in the past but certainly not with a client of that size. they deserve everything they get, which unfortunately won't be as much as their unfortunate client.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3358676].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Alan Petersen
    Originally Posted by AnneHouse View Post

    I thought this was great information to share, just in case you think Google picks on small marketers.

    The short story is that JC Penney had black hat twists on backlinking. Instead of good backlink quality, they had thousands of backlinks to the store placed on junk sites.

    Google punished JC Penney, and now JC Penny fired the search firm they used.

    You can read the story here on NY Times.
    Had this been a small marketer busted they would have probably been de-indexed completely unlike JC Penny who spends $2.6 million on PPC with Google per month so they where knocked down from page 1. And it took attention of the NY Times to get them to take action against JC Penney.

    This is another great article and analysis over all this:

    New York Times Exposes J.C. Penney Link Scheme That Causes Plummeting Rankings in Google
    Signature
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3358692].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Black Hat Cat
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Alan Petersen View Post

      Had this been a small marketer busted they would have probably been de-indexed completely unlike JC Penny who spends $2.6 million on PPC with Google per month so they where knocked down from page 1. And it took attention of the NY Times to get them to take action against JC Penney.
      Had this been a small time marketer, no one ever would have heard of it, and nothing would have ever been done about it. The only reason anything happened is because the NY Times stuck their nose into it, and forced Google's hand.

      So much for the argument that you can't do anything to affect your competition though. They just handed a blueprint to every Fortune 500 company on how to take down the rankings of their competitors. Good job, guys.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3358960].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Kirahster
    The thing that interested me the most about the article is that it was a NY times reporter who did all of the research and reported them to Google. You would imagine that Google keeps an eye on a site that size. Either they knew about the types of links that JC Penneys had and ignored it or else the algorithm did not pick up on the links.

    Definitely very interesting!
    Signature
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3358986].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author AllanWard
    Great article. It reinforces the fact that marketing SEO services isn't as simple as it seems. As a small business owner, I'm horrified by some of the practices that are suggested to offline consultants to help people rank better on Google. If I engaged someone to help me with SEO, I'd want to know exactly what they're doing and make sure it's within the boundaries of what's acceptable. I can't afford to have any brand damage from someone who has different ideas than I do about what's ethical.

    On the plus side, the SEO firm got a backlink from the NY Times!
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3359063].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author alexcoch
    what a pity for jc penny,but i think it is fair to judge some of illegal act like that.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3359093].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author donhx
    Ouch! Even the might fall.

    In police chases they say, "You may be able to outrun the police car, but you can't out run their radio."

    Same with Google. No one is going to outrun their algorithm.
    Signature
    Quality content to beat the competition. Personalized Author Services
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3359645].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Fraggler
      Originally Posted by donhx View Post

      Same with Google. No one is going to outrun their algorithm.
      They were home and hosed. Someone dobbed them in though and Google were pressured into making a forced change. There are 1000's of sites doing the exact same thing that this won't affect one bit.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3360087].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author jeffwheeler
        Originally Posted by Fraggler View Post

        They were home and hosed. Someone dobbed them in though and Google were pressured into making a forced change. There are 1000's of sites doing the exact same thing that this won't affect one bit.
        Its funny how everyone is made over this. Link buying is the norm for the big companies with the big budget.

        One point that has not been looked at in this thread.The ROI.It brought in alot of money from the rankings these backlinks were helping them achieve.

        Proof is in the pudding. Anyone can do this, anyone can spam the engines an cash in.Big companies dont want to wait 6 months floating around picking away at seo. They want results.Bad bad seo company?dont think for one moment the jc penny person who over saw the paying of this company didnt know.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3360173].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
    So this is what our media, the supposed watchdogs of freedom, have been reduced to...checking links. Somehow I'm not surprised, but I still find this disappointing, and even disturbing.
    Signature

    Just when you think you've got it all figured out, someone changes the rules.

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3359903].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author VoyagerMike
    Is there anything wrong with link buying? I mean, if it can help your business then why shouldn't it be okay? Are paid link directories bad? To me it doesn't seem like it should be that big an issue.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3359906].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author sirkaliber
    Yeah, I still don't frown upon link buying. As long as it's used wisely.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3359941].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author onlytim
      Originally Posted by sirkaliber View Post

      Yeah, I still don't frown upon link buying. As long as it's used wisely.
      wisely ? elaborate, please
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3364588].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author sirkaliber
        Originally Posted by onlytim View Post

        wisely ? elaborate, please
        Considering age of domain, consistency, anchor text variation, etc.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3365117].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author LauraJames
    Definitely an interesting article. Thank you for posting this. Certainly gives us a lot to consider.
    Signature

    Chief Executive Officer
    Best Designed Blogs
    Based in Canada and the USA
    None of our work is outsourced

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3359954].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Fraggler
    Originally Posted by Craig Desorcy View Post

    Some heads are going to roll for sure.
    As mentioned just above, I wouldn't be suprised if this was a calculated risk. They have been busted several times in the past. I'm sure a company of their size would tighten up their QA if they were concerned from previous run-ins.

    They were at the top for the Christmas rush and have another 12 months to do it all again.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3360252].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author genietoast
      Google is like fire.

      Use it properly, then you have no problems.

      Mishandle it -- you get burned!
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3360335].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author jeffwheeler
        Originally Posted by genietoast View Post

        Google is like fire.

        Use it properly, then you have no problems.

        Mishandle it -- you get burned!
        your giving google to much credit for the fear they spread.

        There is so much spam that is beating there algo and they have no answers for

        it.Take a look at the pharama serps.

        more like " mishandle it and cash in big time then you get burned/maybe"
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3360357].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author sirkaliber
    Exactly, JCP will be fine. I also believe there may be some truth to the rumor that Google was slow to stampede the retail giant's campaign because they indirectly benefited from the shady seo dealings as well. At the end of the day folks, it's all about the dollar.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3360366].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Tony Marriott
      All this shows is that everyone , and I mean everyone successful, games Google in some way or other. Either to get off the ground or to turn failing sites into profit.

      Google say (loose quote) anything you do, just because there is a search engine, is wrong.

      You would have to look long and hard to find any website that has not broken that "rule". You would have to look even longer and harder for a successful website that hasn't broken that rule.


      The difference is where you draw your own line
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3360393].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author paulie888
    Thanks for sharing this. It looks like some very prominent corporations (including BMW) have gamed the system at one point or another.

    With large corporations, it's all too easy to farm out the work to some SEO company and be left in the dark as to what is actually being implemented. Hopefully this will serve as a cautionary tale to big corporations, so that they'll closely monitor the SEO work that they outsource in the future.
    Signature
    >>> Features Jason Fladlien, John S. Rhodes, Justin Brooke, Sean I. Mitchell, Reed Floren and Brad Gosse! <<<
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3361271].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Michael Taylor
    Originally Posted by donhx View Post

    No one is going to outrun their algorithm.
    Except, it wasn't their "algorithm" that did it...it was basically a snitch.

    This shows that Google doesn't have the omnipotence or omniscience everyone assumes they have.

    If JCP can slum it up in bad neighborhoods and get number one rankings until a third party calls Google's attention to them, then I don't really think a one man shop with a couple thousand contextually irrelevant links to a CPA landing page has too much to worry about.

    That is, unless the NYT is doing an exposé on one man affiliate projects.

    And I realize Google knows precisely where any given backlink is coming from and what kind of neighborhood that backlink is in. But right in the article, Matt Cutts shrugs it off and says considering they get a billion queries a day, they do a good enough job. They don't sound too concerned to me.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3361312].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author HigherPrThanGod
      So I could build black-hat back links to my competitors and hurt their position?
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3361348].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author sirkaliber
        Originally Posted by HigherPrThanGod View Post

        So I could build black-hat back links to my competitors and hurt their position?
        I might be wrong, but you would have to blast so many links and spend so much money doing so that it really wouldn't be cost-effective for your business. After all, you still have to build links to your site, too. Some credible source would also have to blow the whistle and place that company under a microscope as was done here.

        Regarding the comment about large corporations needing to be wary of seo companies' practices that is true, but I believe in this case JCP was just feigning ignorance to save face. I believe they were privy to the black hat techniques, but just didn't care. Most businesses don't until they get caught red-handed.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3364184].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author J Bold
        Originally Posted by HigherPrThanGod View Post

        So I could build black-hat back links to my competitors and hurt their position?
        Doubtful, for the reasons many people have noted, here.

        It appears JC Penney was "outed" by someone else. The reporter got wind of this somehow.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3364466].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author LukeH
    Yeh, that poor SEO expert

    Now JCPenny is gonna have to pay some money for the Adwords.

    Hey, Google will be rich if they do this more often!
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3364376].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author AbsolutJake82
    if youre a small company and you buy 1000 backlinks is google really gonna find out about it? I think most websites have gone down this road in the past for sure
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3364629].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author NickP
    Time to take out the competition

    New business plan:

    1. Start in a niche you want to be in
    2. Spam all of your competitors with black hat tools
    3. Report them to Google

    Do it to everyone on the 1st page and watch your business rise to the top.
    Signature
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3383707].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Greg Adams
    I'm not saying what they did was right because I don't believe it was but based on the timing JCPenney's shareholders are probably laughing all the way to the bank. They received tremendous traffic during the holiday buying season which we know had a positive impact on their holiday sales. So their traffic decreases for a while... their probably sitting in their board room right now (as are their competitors) trying to figure out how to time it just right so they can do it again next year.

    Greg
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3383780].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author CPAmojo
    Well this goes to show you that on-page seo does not matter!

    All you need are thousands of links with the target keyword.

    Side note: you can't have any enemies tattling on you.
    Signature
    CPAmojo is an Online Dating CPA Network >>> Monetize Your Mojo <<<
    $3-$8 per Free Lead. 5% Lifetime Commissions. CPAmojo Reviews
    Apply today and take your cut of the multi-Billion dollar online dating industry.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[3384051].message }}

Trending Topics