Every so often you see a story which makes you scratch your head. For me, working on SEO for my own site, this was certainly one of those cases.
So let me get this straight, one of the largest retailers in the United States is saying that they were in effect duped by a SEO company? Given the amount of resources available to JC Penny and their brand name, I find that incredibly hard to believe. Heck, they could have simply tried to follow Google’s suggestions HERE.
I understand that Fortune 500 companies are generally being led by people of an age in which SEO wasn’t a cornerstone to any business, in many ways for large retailers it may never be, but pleading ignorance has never been an acceptable excuse in other avenues and it shouldn’t be here. Just because something is both convoluted and complicated shouldn’t mean you get a free pass when you get caught cheating.
Personally, especially when given the fact that some of these links are going to remain and stay as helpful links moving their SEO in the right direction, I hope Google handles Penny’s more in line with how they handle any small business which doesn’t spend millions on advertising each and every month. Sure, it’s naïve to think but given my site was removed from the index for about a week after it was hacked, I hope there is something more than a simple slap on the wrist here. If Penny’s returns to the index and ends up in the top 5 for SERPS without ever having done any real work on their site, what does that say about the future of search? What have they really lost? A few weeks at #1 in December is well worth that same amount of time out of the index in February. This isn’t one which needs to be entirely complicated, simply get all the bogus links removed and then penalize them long term for the rest.