Although there are still a few more weeks until spring is officially here, it seems that Google is doing some spring cleaning a little early. Over the past few weeks, Google has made several moves to clean up its organic search results and ensure that they remain high-quality and relevant. While these moves don’t affect legitimate businesses that are following legitimate search engine optimization practices, I thought I’d share these stories so everyone is aware of the black hat SEO tactics that could land you and your website in trouble.
Google updated its algorithm to reduce the rankings of low-quality websites, which they define as “sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful.” This, in turn, will help improve rankings for high-quality sites that are more relevant to the end user.
Google learned that JC Penney’s SEO agency was purchasing and trading a large number of links to JCPenney.com on other unrelated websites in order to boost its ranking for various search terms, and penalized them with lower rankings in it organic search results.
Overstock tried to increase its ranking by encouraging college and university websites to link to Overstock.com so students and faculty could receive discounts on the website. However, Google caught on to this tactic and penalized the website by dropping its rank significantly.