According to The New York Times, J.C. Penney's search engine optimization contractor littered the Internet with thousands of links pointing from low-quality or dormant Web sites back to J.C. Penney's Web site. Such practices are expressly forbidden by Google but nonetheless prove irresistible to the unscrupulous because, as was the case here, they can produce dramatic results.
The Times story described how J.C. Penney benefited from being undeservedly listed first for a wide variety of search terms, including dresses, bedding, area rugs, skinny jeans, home decor, comforter sets and many more. "This striking performance lasted for months, most crucially through the holiday season, when there is a huge spike in online shopping," wrote the Times.
Sweet deal, until you get caught. Now Google has sent J.C. Penney's page ranks plummeting.
The retailer says it wasn't aware of what was being done on its behalf and summarily fired its SEO contractor. ... Too late.
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