Just like in the ole West, or at least as our Western movies tell us, Black hats are villains – and usually up to “no good”.
The New York Times recently noticed something odd when performing Google searches on terms as diverse as bedding, skinny jeans, area rugs and grommet-top curtains. “You could imagine a dozen contenders for each of these searches,” writes David Segal. “But in the last several months, one name turned up, with uncanny regularity, in the No. 1 spot for each and every term: JCPenney.” The retailer’s ranking even bested manufacturer Samsonite.com in Google searches for Samsonite carry-on luggage.
They discovered the strikingly unsubtle use of “black hat” optimization—including an array of phony sites that appeared to exist for the sole purpose of linking to the store’s website.
“There are links to JCPenney.com’s dresses page on sites about diseases, cameras, cars, dogs, aluminum sheets, travel, snoring, diamond drills, bathroom tiles, hotel furniture, online games, commodities, fishing, Adobe Flash, glass shower doors, jokes and dentists—and the list goes on,” noted Doug Pierce of Blue Fountain Media, a firm hired by the New York Times to investigate. He found an array of phony sites that appeared to exist for the sole purpose of linking to the store’s website.Though not illegal, black-hat tactics are strictly verboten in the Google rulebook. “The company draws a pretty thick line between techniques it considers deceptive and ‘white hat’ approaches, which are offered by hundreds of consulting firms and are legitimate ways to increase a site’s visibility.
Google retaliated with a “manual action” against JCPenney. In the space of two hours, for instance, the retailer’s No. 1 ranking for Samsonite carry-on luggage plummeted to No. 71. Rankings for other search terms underwent similarly dramatic demotions.
The Po!nt: In the end, cheaters never win. Sure, everyone’s trying to boost their search-engine rankings. Just make sure you follow Google’s ground rules when you do it.
Source:The full (and very interesting article) The New York Times.