American retailer JC Penney has made an apparent recovery after the SEO scandal that left its online reputation in tatters earlier this year. The US department store chain suffered a massive loss of rankings across its website in February, after a New York Times expose revealed the less-than reputable SEO methods used on the site. It has been a few months since its spectacular drop in rankings, but the site’s pages are now appearing back on top.
The February Times article examined the suspicious frequency of JC Penney’s pages appearing top of the SERPs for popular products, pointing out the illogic of a department store’s page outranking the home site for well-known brands. The article used the JC Penney site as the basis for an investigation of black hat search engine optimisation tactics, revealing that when the results of the investigation were handed to Google, the search engine’s webmasters were impressed at the ‘ambitious’ attempt to manipulate the rankings.
The resulting penalties dropped a vast number of JC Penney pages from number one spots down to positions in the seventies, something which drew a great amount of attention from those working in SEO and no doubt cost the department store a fortune.
Three months later, however, the site seems to have recovered some of its position, appearing back on the first page for several of the keywords mentioned in the original article and appearing on page two for many more. The reason behind the swift rise appears to be a simple change from black hat SEO to white hat. This outcome is an interesting one for the average business engaging in SEO.