Fatal SEO Mistakes

Posted in Search Engine Optimization | April 20,2011

First J.C. Penney then Overstock.com.

Both corporations felt the wrath of Google for their deceptive Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics. Both companies wanted their link to be at the top of the list for various searches, including dresses, vacuum and bunk beds. I mean, who doesn’t, right? That’s a top goal of many marketers; the problem is how both companies went about it.

J.C. Penney and Overstock.com used “black hat” SEO methods to get their links to the top and are now unranked. The New York Times published the story in February, uncovering that someone paid for thousands of links to be placed on random sites linking back to J.C. Penney. This is deceptive SEO, because the more links leading to a site, the higher Google’s algorithm ranks it, since it seems more relevant.

When the links are fake, Google takes action. J.C. Penney was de-ranked within hours and can now be found on the second page of a Google search for “department stores.”

Overstock.com stepped into the world of “black hat” marketing a little differently. The Wall Street Journal reported that Overstock.com had college students link their “.edu” pages back to Overstock.com in exchange for a 10% discount. College students were targeted, because Google’s ranking algorithm puts more weight on “.edu” pages, as they’re considered to be more important sources of information. Overstock.com faced the same fate and was de-ranked by Google.

Stories like these raise a lot of questions about what businesses can do to improve their SEO without getting on Google’s bad list. Here are our suggestions on what you should and shouldn’t do to improve your SEO rankings:


  • Consider building your website to be search engine friendly, but your primary audience is your consumers. Make sure your website is created for search engines.
  • Post relevant content on your site and remember to update it regularly. A blog provides a great opportunity to keep content fresh, which improves SEO.
  • Keep updated social media networks. The activity will naturally boost SEO.
  • Call Miller Public Relations for a consultation.


  • Hide text on your page. A hidden page that just repeats your keywords, may temporarily improve SEO, but won’t make Google happy.
  • Try to trick Google and fall into the same traps as J.C. Penney and Overstock.com. Placing fake links throughout the web in order to boost rankings will only turn out poorly.
  • Use unauthorized programs that violate Google’s terms and conditions. If Google says it’s not acceptable, you know you’re crossing the line.
  • Use “doorway” pages that directly lead to the main website. These pages serve no purpose beside improving rankings.
  • Include irrelevant keywords on the page.
  • Build multiple websites with identical information.