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Was J.C. Penney Cheating with Its Link Building Methods?

Posted on Feb 14, 2011

J.C. Penney is a lot of things – a multi-billion dollar company, retail seller of furniture, clothing and jewelry, and a conglomerate consisting of 1,100 stores – but a cheater? That is the claim being made regarding J.C. Penney’s link building efforts.

According to the New York Times, J.C. Penney has been taking the top spots in search results for such terms as “furniture,” “skinny jeans,” and even “comforter sets.” While this corporation might be one of the major competitors in the retail market, it is up against companies that are just as large, if not bigger. J.C. Penney has continued to beat out a great deal of its competition online, but the true reason behind its Internet strength may have finally been explained.

Apparently, Doug Pierce of Blue Fountain Media was contacted by the New York Times to do some digging into J.C. Penney’s strategy.  He discovered that J.C. Penney’s Internet marketing tactics might have “crossed the line” in what Google considers deceptive approaches in boosting a website profile. As reported in the New York Times article, Mr. Pierce described J.C. Penney’s optimization methods as “the most ambitious attempt to game Google’s search results that he has ever seen.”

You know we preach the importance of having websites link to yours, but we are definitely not referring to the methods Google considers “black hat” approaches.  Supposedly, someone paid a lot of money to have links positioned on hundreds of websites throughout the World Wide Web. These links pointed directly to J.C. Penney’s website, which ultimately bolstered its position on Google.

What did J.C. Penney have to say? According to Darcie Brossart, a company spokeswoman, the giant retailer, “did not authorize, and we were not involved with or aware of, the posting of the links...as it is against our natural search policies.”

J.C. Penney is now the subject of Google’s “corrective action.” Not surprisingly, the retail company decided to fire its search engine consulting firm.

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Tom Foster
CEO, President, Founder