前幾個月內，有人發現Google的搜尋出現了怪異的現象，輸入「dresses」、「bedding」、「area rugs」這些關鍵字，JCPenney這家公司網站都在第一位，並且不只這些關鍵字，連「skinny jeans」、「home decor」、「comforter sets」、「furniture」、以及一大堆的關鍵字，JCPenney網站都是位居Google第一名，到底怎麼回事呢? JCPenney的搜尋引擎優化作業這麼厲害嗎? 到底發生什麼事情了?
當然JCPenney沒有承認是他們的主意，發言人Darcie Brossart說這是SEO顧問的問題，“J. C. Penney did not authorize, and we were not involved with or aware of, the posting of the links that you sent to us, as it is against our natural search policies … We are working to have the links taken down.” 他說JCPenney並沒有授權去進行這些連結作業，並且這些是違反我們的搜尋策略，我們正進行要將這些連結取下。
到底JCPenney網站是使用了什麼手法呢? 讓她們的網站在許多關鍵字都能脫穎而出呢? 當然就是黑帽的連結跟doorway網站了，使用http://www.opensiteexplorer.org的付費版本，就可以看出許多錨點文字的來源，其中可以看到有2015個頁面指向casual dresses、evening dresses、little black dress、cocktail dress這些關鍵字，並且這些網站都不是正常的網站，而是看似廢棄的網站，只有一堆連結，當NYTtimes向Google告知這些事情以後，Google已經針對這些現象加以修正。
這件事情傷了JCPenney，也傷了 Google。也許這件事情發生以後，Matt Cutts的Spam Team會更加盯住不合法的搜尋引擎優化作業。
The characterization of JCPenney in the New York Times article is misleading and unwarranted. In particular, JCPenney was in no way involved in the posting of the links discussed in the article. We did not authorize them and we were not aware that they had been posted. To be clear, we do not tolerate violations of our policies regarding natural search, which reflect Google’s guidelines.
We are one of the nation’s largest retailers, serving half of America’s families. Our website jcp.com was one of the first and largest of its kind and we are committed to best practices in marketing and selling online. Once we learned of these unauthorized web links, we began an immediate investigation into how and by whom those links were posted. We have also terminated our relationship with our natural search marketing firm.
The New York Times failed miserably in neglecting to disclose that it hired a competitor to the search firm working with us and used that competitor firm as the primary source, as well as in its description of our business:
The reason JCPenney outperformed the competition during the holiday season is attributable to having the right merchandise, great price points, a compelling holiday marketing campaign and the best department store customer service. It’s as simple as that. It is naïve for the New York Times to suggest that these low-quality web links drove our business.
JCPenney is one of the top 20 brand marketers in the country. Because JCPenney was one of the first retailers to maximize search engine optimization, we have had a very robust natural and paid search program in place for years. Couple this with the fact that we are one of America’s largest retailers, and it is clear why JCPenney had held some to the top search rankings in dozens of key word searches for years – long before these unauthorized links appeared.
Our natural search program has never included paid web links, like those described in the article. It is against our policy, and the fact is, we don’t need to them to build our Google rankings. We have millions of links from our web partnerships and programs that already gave us link popularity. These included links from our 1.4 million Facebook fans, who clicked from Facebook to jcp.com; social media and fashion bloggers; our holiday partnerships with Yahoo!, Microsoft, Time Warner, Hearst. Our links on these sites during the holidays had editorially relevant content and pointed to our product pages. These links and ones like them are what drove our relevancy rankings on Google, not the unauthorized, low quality links that the New York Times reported on.
We have seen no spike in jcp.com sales from natural search at any time, including during the holiday period in question.
We have no record of ever having received a violation notification from Google before last week when the unauthorized links came to our attention. If we had, we would have worked quickly to remedy the situation, as we are doing now. Obviously, we are disappointed that Google has reduced our rankings. Nonetheless, we will continue to work through the appropriate channels to regain our high natural search positions.
JCPenney is one of the most financially sound retailers in the country, so to insinuate that the closing of five underperforming stores, and the discontinuation of some legacy operations that don’t drive meaningful growth for our Company was somehow connected to this issue, is contrary to the facts and a disservice to New York Times readers.