Trying to spam Google is always a big no no. So you wouldn’t expect a big “reputable” retailer like JC Penney’s to try it. But that is apparently exactly what happened – for months – during the busy holiday season. According to a New York Times investigation JCP.com’s organic search positioning was manipulated for terms like “dresses” and “Samsonite carry on”. How did they do this and why is it wrong?
To increase your search rankings, you want to have incoming links to your website from other websites. More important than just the link, is the popularity of the site the link is on AND the anchor text in the link (see how I used the anchor text “New York Times” in the paragraph above to link to the article). There is nothing wrong with companies trying to get relevant websites to link to theirs. What is wrong in the eyes of Google, is paying over 2100 websites that have nothing to do with your company just to post the link and anchor text – and this is exactly what JCP.com did.
Click the link above to read the full article, it gives some good insight to how SEO linking works and some of the “black hat” (bad) tactics that are sometimes used. I have never, and will never engage in these practices. SEO should be organic – coming from another website who has a genuine interest in wanting to link to your site.