Got Bad Links? Consider Google’s Pummeling of Overstock Fair Warning
A clear message was sent this week to CEOs, webmasters and marketing managers across the industry: go check the inbound links to your site and the SEO firm that’s getting them for you. You may be the next casualty of Googleâ€™s newfound quest for improved natural, search results. In the last thirty days, Google penalized JC Penney and most recently Overstock.com for abusing link practices.
JC Penney took a blatant approach of paying for links across the Internet. This risky black hat gamble paid off in massive traffic volume during the holidays. Unfortunately this strategy sent JC Penny to page four and below in Googleâ€™s search results.
Overstock took a less blatant approach to improving its natural rankings. SEO experts have long assumed that the Google algorithm gives more credence to .edu links. Overstock to a cleaver approach to leverage this assumption by offering schools discounted merchandise for links back to their site. On some level, you can give Overstock credit for thinking out-of-the-box on this scam, but in the end they were caught and now feel the pain.
The punishment of JC Penney and now Overstock raises the question, why now? Could Google be feeling the pressure from a surging Bing? Â I believe Google feels the pressure a bit (remember when they added an image to the front just like Bing?), but Bingâ€™s results are worse than Googleâ€™s. My guess is that an increase in user complaints about the quality of search results spurred Google to address the issues by first penalizing sites that abuse link practices.
I doubt that Overstock is the last victim of Googleâ€™s new crusade. It pains me to see Google wielding such power over these companies. There is no doubt that good people at JC Penney, Overstock and their respective agencies are losing their jobs over this change. However, it’s also a good lesson not to cheat. Google is too damn smart. You may cheat them for a bit, but eventually they will catch you and like Chris Rock, they will Bring the Pain!