With today’s economic struggles, everyone is practicing SEO techniques to become more noticeable on the Internet. Recently, The New York Times posted a story on their website that exposes one of the biggest conglomerate companies out there practicing black-hat optimization. For example, if you were to type the word “bedding” into a search engine, do you believe that the first company to pop up would be the same company that would pop-up if you entered the words “grommet top curtains” into the Google search engine?
Well, it did! J.C. Penney came up first in Google’s search engine for some of the most vague and most detailed searches, especially towards the end of the 2010 holiday season. Google’s goal is to filter through the Internet and help people find relevant websites pertaining to their searches. So what do you think? Do you truly believe J.C. Penney is the best place to find “grommet top curtains” or your “bedding” needs? Well, let’s assume you don’t believe J.C. Penney is the best site to find these products. J.C. Penney does make billions of dollars in annual revenue, but it’s still very hard to believe J.C. Penney is the best store for just about everything you need. Not only did J.C. Penney pop-up first for the searches mentioned above, but also for “dresses,” “area rugs,” and even something as detailed as “Samsonite carry-on luggage.” Why wouldn’t the search link the user to Samsonite’s home page?
It’s because of a term called “black-hat” optimization. The New York Times asked an expert on Internet searches as to why J.C. Penney kept coming up. While black-hat optimization is legal, it is also known as being highly unethical, and if you’re trafficking within the black-hat practices, you risk the rage of Google.
So what exactly is black hat optimization? Simply put, black-hat optimization is an SEO technique which possibly may break search engine rules and regulations, create a poor user experience and unethically present material a much different way to search engine users. So the question is, what did J.C. Penney do to become so popular on Goggle?
J.C. Penney did something pretty creative (although very unethical) by setting up links from one site to another. For example, let’s say that you own a shoe store, and you own a website for your store. Your website’s ranking will improve as other Web sites start to link to it. The more businesses linking to your site, especially ones relating to shoe store related sites, the higher your ranking and the easier it will be for people to find you on Google.
Almost sounds like a popularity contest, and whoever is the most popular, (based on polling the most-informed fans of shoe stores and keeping tabs of links to your site) is essentially on the highest echelon for a web search on Google. Now, what about links to your shoe store website which has nothing to do with shoes? The answer is, they can highly improve the optimization of your site being viewed on Google, and this is exactly what J.C. Penney did.
There is no way to find out who linked these random pages to J.C. Penney’s website (especially because a J.C. Penney spokeswoman stated it was no one within their company…big surprise). One example of J.C. Penney’s linking strategy was the search term “Evening dresses,” which was linked with a website called casino-focus.com. Many of these practices are all over the Internet now, but don’t be the unethical one; Trademark Productions offers SEO consulting so you do not have to become a black-hatter like the folks at J.C. Penny.