Recently Google handed out a heavy penalty to Overstock.com because the retailer was allegedly paying for links from Colleges. Part of Google’s algorithm involves attributing “weight” to incoming links and the higher the quality of links the greater the weight is applied to the recipient site. Supposedly, Google rates colleges and universities as high-quality sources so it’s pretty useful for a company to get links from those sources. Except, it appears that Overstock.com were paying students directly for these links which is in breach of Google’s guidelines.
Now, it’s not clear whether Overstock.com actually encouraged the links, it might have been the actions of an SEO agency and without getting into the debate of the general standard of morals used by SEO companies it highlights a genuine concern for companies who use (and therefore trust) SEO companies to build up their online credibility. Usefully, there is a neat service from Brightedge that allows companies to actually see what their SEO partners are doing. Called BrandSafe it’s free and to learn more pop over and read the TechCrunch article.
- Google Busts Overstock.com For Search Spam (GOOG, OSTK) (businessinsider.com)
- Overstock.com Gets a Google Slap (blippitt.com)
- Google News: Algorithms, JCPenney and Overstock.com (webconsuls.com)
- Google’s Action Against Link Schemes Continues: Overstock.com and Forbes.com Latest Casualities; Conductor Exits Business (searchengineland.com)
- Oneupweb : SEO Misconduct (straightupsearch.com)
- J.C. Penny gets busted juicing its Google results (tech.fortune.cnn.com)