Black Hat Tricks Lead J.C. Penney To Search Obscurity

Here is an SEO story that is worth keeping alive, because so many of our clients wonder about our “SEO Capability” when we first bring them on board as website design clients. First I refer them to the notion that stable, gradual increases in rankings have more long-term value than the kind of short-term “tricks” used by many alleged “experts” in the field.

The next thing I do is to assure them that to get a top ranking immediately, you have to pay dearly for the pole position, as it were. So few understand, because they see other companies ranking well, on the first page or the second page, for search the term “x” or the phrase “x and y plus z”, they wonder about getting that kind of ranking right away.

A recent article in The New York Times brings to mind the consequences of making use of fun-house tricks to warp the search results, which can ultimately result in poor search rankings or the dreaded “950 penalty”, in which Google will push your website rankings down 950 positions, essentially a death sentence for any business online.

The J.C. Penney scenario, in which websites were created to set up back-links, or multiple back links and advertising were set up through questionable third-party vendors, is the latest example to demonstrate how promoting and influencing artificial relevancy will ultimately cost a website a stable and ever-increasing search ranking.

The authority of a domain is determined by how well others view it as a resource, and it is not contingent upon these “black hat” tricks that bring a site’s ranking up within 30 days. The long-term result is oblivion, unless you happen to have one of the category-killer domains, like We use that term because The New York Times cited such an example.

SEO, at least the real stuff, requires meticulous attention to the long-term and short-term search trends on Google, Bing, Yahoo and the like. It also requires making certain to place relevant tags in the right place. It requires one to participate on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, comment forms, etc. It is a systematic process of building a website’s reputation and relevance. It is not an event.

Or as we wrote in another blog post, a little over a year ago, SEO is not a plug-in.


About the Author

Danny Pryor is a media, website and content developer based in Fort Lauderdale. He produces websites, video and other digital media through his company, Rodan Media, and is the executive director of the travel website,, which he co-owns with his business partners. Danny began website development in 2000, while working with Scoop Magazine, in Fort Lauderdale. His media and broadcasting career dates to 1988, when he began working in news radio, in Las Vegas. He has two awards from the Florida Associated Press, for Best Individual Achievement and for Best Spot News, for his radio news coverage of events in Miami, during 1992.

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