OverStock Also in Google’s Penalty Box

Google's Penalty Box is Filling UpHow big a data center will Google need to house all the sites they are penalizing? Their Penalty Box sure seems to be growing fast.

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.

JC Penny Penalized by Google

Stay out of the Google Penalty BoxA great, detailed article was written yesterday on SearchEngineWatch.com about Google penalizing JC Penny for inappropriate link building by JC Penny’s SEO firm.

I’m mostly surprised by two things: JC Penny employing an SEO Firm that resorted to such a known “Bad Practice” and JC Penny obviously doesn’t have an internal SEO staff person overseeing and reviewing what their SEO firm is implementing. This seems like using an offshore contract manufacturer without and experienced person in the company being held responsible for managing that outsource. Seems insane. But, a company’s Web Site probably isn’t as important as building the products sold on it, right?

Here’s just a snippet from the article, “Bad Brands and Bad Linking: How to Avoid Google Penalties“:

JCPenney should have known what their SEO company was doing. You need a solid understanding of what your SEO firm is doing to “help” you, and how you can monitor SEO campaigns involving your brand.