NY Times examines black-hat SEO by JC Penney

The New York Times story “The Dirty Little Secrets of Search” is describes the various ways JC Penney employed through a hired SEO company to get itself to prime places in Google search for phrases ranging “area rugs” to “dresses”.

Now that the results have been disclosed, Penney will pay a penalty. Google is not amused when its system has been tricked. Google seems more regal when portrayed in articles like Wired’s “Exclusive: How Google’s Algorithm Rules the Web“, which was awe-inspiring in the attention given to search results and to make them as useful as it could. Oh to see Google’s results compared to its competitors. it’s easy to see why it continues to dominate over Yahoo and Bing.

But black-hat SEO companies mock Google. The techniques they use take Google’s efforts and ridicule them and use them against Google itself. The methods have been around for years, but it’s been mostly discussed in the tech circles. The NY Times articles just brought it to the general public and embarrasses Google more publicly.

Since the NY Times story, Penney has dismissed the SEO company, SearchDex, and other companies are expected to look over the SEO practices they use and hire. The reward of prominent Google listings is too much for some companies to rely on the vague and uncertainty of white-hat SEO efforts.


Scene from "Angel and the Badman"

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