It seems we just posted about JC Penny being penalized by Google for black hat link buying conducted by an outsourced SEO firm that violates Google’s long standing position on this method. Shame on that SEO Firm, but we also think JC Penny shows a serious lack of judgement and understanding about the importance of their Web site.
Our respected friends over at SearchEngineWatch.com has posted another in-depth article about Overstocks’s Paid Links at Universities and Colleges. In some ways, this seems an unfair penalty. The gist of their violation stems from asking the sites to embed links to related Overstock.com product pages, such as “gift baskets” in exchange for offering a 10% discount to their students.
Why was this a violation? OverStock wasn’t penalized because they had a link on a college site saying something like:
“10% discount on gift baskets for all XYZ College students”
While they DID have those links, which are fine, OverStock asked the colleges to go a bit deeper into their site. For instance, there could be an FAQ section for new parents that states “Loneliness is the biggest reason for first year drop outs. Consider sending your child a gift basket near special occasions.” In this case, the link “gift basket” would take a parent to OverStock’s gift basket product page.
Once Google detected this similarity across lots of universities and colleges, they pitched OverStock into the Penalty Box. Another reason why businesses should consider having an SEO in-house expert or outsource they can trust.