An introduction to false practices of search engines
A couple of days ago, I was talking to my colleagues about how manipulative Google has become these days. There’s this notion that some people with heavy pockets bid on selected keywords and then Google does the dirty job. What happens next is that the said keyword will generate high amounts of traffic, hence directing it to a particular online platform.
The trick won’t work for other businesses that are associated to the same keyword, because they didn’t bribe someone at Google. Now, I’m not interjecting this theory that Google is a corrupt organization. Yet again, there are some silly sally’s and bad people, who’re hidden deep within this company. These people are giving a bad name to an organization that’s well reputed and respected.
The twisted case of J.C. Penney and its select keywords:
This topic has already been discussed in detail at different websites. J.C. Penney, by now, has become quite famous for its tarnished reputation and online fame. Let’s say, if you were to enter “Bed” or “Dresses” as a search string at Google.Com, what would you expect:
- Walmart Store with Dresses and Beds
- Amazon Links for Bed and Dresses or vice versa
- Wikipedia pages
- General information and etc.
The list is limitless… or maybe not. You see, J.C. Penney’s case is slightly different and much darker. For several months in the past, their popularity on the internet has gained a boost. J.C.’s links were not limited to “Dresses” and “Bed” keywords; they were covering a lot of other business aspects for NUMBER 1 position on the internet.
The company was ranking first and most prominent for:
- Skinny Jeans
- Home Décor
- Comforter Sets
- Gift Items
- Grommet Top Curtains
I’m sure that there were and there must’ve been tons of other keywords as well. J.C. Penney’s performance went on for a couple of month. It was thought out or understood as a temporary gig, which was probably meant to last for a select number of months. I think they did it to help people REMEMBER and PREFER J.C. Penney as an online retailer for all sorts of daily and domestic products/services.
Deep analysis of J.C. Penney’s stained games:
J.C. Penney is not a small name, it’s not something that you can put behind your back and forget about it. These guys have more than 1100 stores, with more than $17 Billion to back ‘em up. With that much money, they could have easily relied on the organic search results instead of bribing people for that.
Some experts and search engine optimization gurus like to translate J.C. Penney’s online business antics as “Black-Hat” or “F*cked Up” ethics. Likewise, there’s this guy known as Doug Pierce, a marketing strategist at Blue Fountain Media. He believes that Penney’s practices for gaining popularity on the internet are classified as “Cheating” by Google experts/employees.
Douglas hails Penney’s efforts as an “ambitious attempt” that he had never heard of before. Plus, this company is a widely renown brand. Why would it populate its link building techniques with wrong practices? Why didn’t JCPenney go for White-Hat business techniques instead? Money, in my opinion, was not an object of argument.
A small discussion about organic SEO techniques
Organic SEO does take time, but it definitely pays in the long run. Doesn’t that sound familiar? I mean you work hard for anything and success comes to you through a natural protocol. However, some folks like to take it away in one big swing.
It kind of reminds me of Jeremy Schoemaker’s case. Here we have an honest man, who’s trying to make a living on the internet. He built a brand, by working his butt off on the internet, and then some weasel from Google comes in and starts misusing it.
A mole inside the Google system:
- Known as “Shoemoney Sues Google Employee for AdWords Violations”, the post instantly went viral in April 7, 2009 at TechCrunch. Jeremy noticed that an “unknown” person in particular, had been using his company name (Shoemoney) to post ads and redirect traffic to his website.
- Now the funny thing about Google is that it’s like a sleeping giant. You can never get someone on the other side of the phone. Whenever Google replies through Emails, it’s always a typical “Copy/Paste” Bot-Like format, which covers a wide and general area.
- Schoemaker tried contacting Google and his calls and Emails went unanswered. Several weeks and a lawsuit later, he found out that the guy he was trying to legally penalize was Google’s Employee!!! Egad…
Long story short; Google didn’t come out with any official statement but the lawsuit was settled. Probably they took care of the employee as well.
If you want to thoroughly comprehend the Organic Search results, it takes a couple of tight curbs. Let’s skip the paid advertisement scenario for a while, everyone doesn’t have the money to pay for his/her company’s ads. The cost free and cheaper way of increasing ranking is something which is known or rather revealed to all of us.
What we do is, we head to Google, submit our site and wait for them to note it. We continue to do so at various other online platforms. In between sweet snacks, laments, complaints and a lot of waiting, we also try to improve our website ranking through forums, blogs, comments and social media. Plus, Google has its algorithm too, and changes every few months, so you have to keep that in mind as well.
Above all, if more people start linking to your website, your page rank and popularity will increase. You’re sort of getting popular for being approved by many internet users out there.
Investigations against J.C. Penney:
Analysts suggest that “someone” at J.C. Penney, paid another “someone” to post the company’s website links on different online plateaus. Just when this company was unmasked in front of the online world, it’s big fat corporate hoodies said, “Oh no, I don’t know what you’re talking about. It wasn’t Penney.”
As a matter of fact, if I were to quote Darcie Brossart, a spokeswoman for Penney, I’d write “J.C. Penney didn’t authorize, and we were not involved with OR aware of, the posting of the links that you sent to us. As it is against our natural search policies – we’re working to have those referral links, to our website, taken down.”
Poor Darcie doesn’t know that it takes a lot of guts and honesty to admit a mistake. Had it been 9 or 100 links pointing to the JCPenney website, we’d have understood that the company was right in saying that it was oblivious of the newly discovered links. But sadly, there were tons and tons of links, all touting out evidence about Penney’s Black Hat strategies.
If only those links had a physical form…
For argument’s sake, if J.C. Penney website links had a physical form, we could’ve loaded them in a cop mobile. Later on, we could’ve run them against the fingerprint machine for a couple of weeks (mind it, they were too many), and we’d have our criminal(s) in the slammer finally.
But these links were virtual, so fingerprint technology was out of the way. Doug Pierce, at this point, suggested that if you use a tool called: Open Site Explorer, you’d discover 2,015 pages. All these pages were full of different phrases that linked to J.C. Penney’s main page. OUCH.
Want some details? I’m sure you do. The Open Site Explorer tool was pretty awesome in revealing that most of those page links represented websites that were not even remotely related to the same niches as Penney’s. For example, a Nuclear Engineer webpage was pointing to the online retailer for “Black Dresses”. Likewise, a Casino website was pointing to Penney’s main page for “Evening Dresses”.
Here comes Google:
The case was finally noticed by some of the best Google employees. Matt Cutts jumped right to the heart of the matter, and didn’t like it at all. Now Cutts, just like Google, doesn’t go hand in hand with those cheap practices, which involve link building and over-the-night site popularity campaigns.
What Google does is that it kicks the website from its listings. In other words, if your website gets banned, you’ll have a hard time getting traffic to it. Jeremy Schoemaker’s website was banned from Google for 3 years, but he made through it (it’s entirely different story). The only way he survived was through a genuine interest to help people. His content was pretty famous and by the time Google imposed some bans on his website, he was already loved by a lot of folks out there.
BMW Gets a Temporary Ban:
- In 2006, Google discovered that BMW.De had been involved in Black Hat techniques. This was perhaps one of those rare times that some people from Google actually took time to talk about BMW and the death penalty against it. The company was removed from the search engine in those days.
- Matt Cutts was quite active. He spoke ‘n wrote about the BMW hocus pocus. BBC provided a platform for media coverage and the whole internet world came to know about the German auto dealer’s falsely promoted online ratings.
- BMW’s case was kind of severe. They were using doorway pages to lead people to some other websites. This wasn’t cool at all.
Speaking of bans and punishment imposition, J.C. Penney wasn’t banned. The website wasn’t at least using doorway pages, so it wasn’t banned. BUT, there is a strong probability that “someone” at Penney bribed “someone” at Google and prevented the website from getting banned? I mean who knows. Google doesn’t recruit angels these days, and like any other organization, there’s bound to be a few bad apples in the basket.
In one of his statements, Cutts said that Google wasn’t able to “note” Penney’s misdeeds because of the billions of queries they received every day. “But given the one billion queries that Google handles each day, I think we do an amazing job”, said Matt Cutts in a documented one hour interview.
Google did take things seriously. How serious were their actions against J.C. Penny? Take a look below:
- Wednesday Evening – 7 P.M on the Dot: Penney is Number One for “Living Room Furniture”.
- Wednesday Evening – 9 P.M: Penney is now rated as the 68th “top” Website for “Living Room Furniture”.
- 7 P.M. Wednesday – Ranked Number 1 For “Samsonite Carry-On Luggage”
- 9 P.M. – Penney’s Rank for the same keyword is now 71 !
So on and so forth, the list was edited and publicly released to speak volumes about Google’s prompt actions. Penney’ officials were disappointed and said that they didn’t expect their ratings to drop. In their opinion, the company had EARNED its respect, fame and popularity on the internet.
My closing statement and conclusion:
There are different possibilities to this dilemma. Penney was just one case that’s like a speck on the entire Google Globe. There’s also a possibility that Google wasn’t bribed, but we can’t know this thing in depth. We, as website owners, are nothing if compared to Amazon or Google, or any other major website.
My opinion and advice to all fellow writers, bloggers, website owners and online entrepreneurs is that you guys should keep your head straight up. Forget about what Google does or say, forget about all sorts of search engines. At the end of the day, real people will come over to your website as readers or buyers. The big question(s) is:
- Does your website actually have what it takes to maximize its value?
- You ranked well for Domain Name and keywords, I get it. But do you have content that really gives benefits to real people?
Food for thought everyone; think about it.