JC Penney's Big Mistake & Lessons for Marketers

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Re: Google's Weak Algorithm
smkinoshita   2/22/2011 10:57:18 AM

Regarding the weak algorithm -- I'm not so sure that the tactics could be applied to a competitor to devalue their links without it being pretty obvious.

The thing I would like to know is did JC Penny see any returns or losses on the black hat practice. 

I'm pro white hat, but as long as people see a short-term return it's going to continue to be difficult to discourage black hat practices.  Of course, if JC Penny's website does a poor job of selling or matching the search they might not see any short term gains and have long term losses on top of that.

Mitch Wagner
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Re: My concern with SEO
Mitch Wagner   2/17/2011 10:43:34 AM

Good points, Lucy. I admit to being prejudiced against SEO because my only experience with it was terrible. They didn't understand our business, they couldn't provide evidence for the changes they were recommending. 

If SEO is important, the business needs to work very closely with the SEO firm and truly understand what they're doing. Otherwise, ownership of content, blogs, and social media won't matter; it'll be like having the keys to the car but not knowing how to drive. 

Mitch Wagner
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My concern with SEO
Mitch Wagner   2/15/2011 3:38:39 PM

My concern with SEO is that it is, at least to some extent, a distraction. You're not spending time engaging with potential customers, you're spending time engaging with someone who -- without any contractual relationship or control by you -- will own the customer relationship. 

And if you pay a SEO agency to do it, as many companies do, then the relationship with the customer is now at TWO removes. 

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Re: Good SEO
kdawson   2/15/2011 1:41:08 PM

Lucy, thanks much for the view from beneath the white hat!

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Re: Google's Weak Algorithm
kdawson   2/15/2011 10:35:16 AM

michaelgrover, has anyone ever told you that you have the soul of a security researcher? Yes, black-hat SEO could be used for an updated version of a "Joe job."

As for Google's algorithm: they need to walk a very fine line. They cannot be seen to be censoring anybody. They get sued all the time for the proactive steps they do take in favor of users and against spammers. I am not at all surprised that Google is conservative in how aggressive its algorithm becomes, and I think it's a good thing on balance.

I was extremely heartened to see the news yesterday that Google is offering an extension to the Chrome browser that will let users declare sites they never want to hear from again. Not only can each Chrome user decide, for example, that eHow.com is useless to them; these votes are sent back to Google. The company will decide whether there is a "signal" in all these individual choices that it can use in assigning relevance. It's a very bright day for users.

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Google's Weak Algorithm
michaelgrover   2/15/2011 10:06:27 AM

I think the real story here is how weak Google's algorithm actually is.  From what I've read and heard about this case, it should have been readily apparent that the distributed links were black-hat.  The magic component to the algorithm is counting inbound links but, at least in this case, it didn't take into account the value or relevance of the sites linking in. Or maybe it's just that volume of links outweighed the value.  Either way, a flag should have been raised.

Also, it occurs to me that a company could deploy this tactic against a competitor, driving some short term traffic until Google gets wind of it and manually demotes the entire site.

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