JCPenny had some impressive holiday revenue this year due to some usually good results on the search engines. The results were in fact a bit too impressive and lead some researchers to question why JCPenny.com should be the #1 ranked site for something like Samsonite Luggage, above the well established manufacturer, Samsonite.com.
As it turns out JCPenny has a lot of links, with an unusually large increase in links over the last few months, which they claim no responsibility for. In fact the links for JCPenny items are so extensive that they appear all over the internet in places completely unlikely to be organic in any way. While you could loosely find some connection between a “little black dress” and a casino-discussion site, such clothing terms were also linked to JCPenny on engineering sites, banking sites, and other completely unrelated discussions.
The case against JCPenny is so strong that Google had little disagreement that some corrective actions were needed to make the results more organic.
If you were to hit Google on Wednesday of last week, J. C. Penney was still the No. 1 result for “Samsonite carry on luggage.” Look again in two hours, and it would have been somewhere near position 71 for the exact same search. Today a quick search for that term with 100 results doesn’t return a positive hit for “jcpenny.com” on the entire first set of results.
At this point JCPenny has claimed that they want to remove the links, plus they went ahead and severed ties with SearchDex (a search consultant previously hired to assist JCPenny). It might be a step in the right direction, but only time will tell how far the Google anti-spam team’s “manual action” will effect the company’s position in the SERPs.
Clearly the way things are now, it was a well timed ‘mishap’ for JCPenny, and obviously if they can manage some swift damage control, they are likely to come out ahead of the game even with a period of poor rankings on the search engines during the next month or so.
SEO news blog post by Ryan Morben @ 8:54 pm on February 14, 2011