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Top 5 SEO & Social Media Horror Stories: Part 1

With Halloween almost upon us I thought I’d give a round-up of some of the online marketing world’s scariest horror stories from the past year. Forget about ‘Paranormal Activity II’, ‘Contagion’ or any other scary films out this year, the following examples of how not to run a successful SEO or Social media campaign will make you shudder to your core…

J.C. Penney
Back in February, the New York Times published an article about a search engine optimization investigation of U.S department store J.C. Penney. Perplexed by how well jcpenney.com did in unpaid (organic) search results for practically everything the retailer sold, they asked someone familiar with the world of search engine optimization (SEO) to look into it a bit more. The investigation found that thousands of seemingly unrelated web sites (many that seemed to contain only links) were linking to the J.C. Penney web site and most of those links had really descriptive anchor text. It was almost like someone had arranged for all of those links in order to get better rankings in Google. The New Yorks Times presented their findings to Google. Googler Matt Cutts, head of webspam, confirmed that the tactics violated the Google webmaster guidelines and shortly after, the J.C. Penney web site was nowhere to found for the queries they had previously ranked number one for. J.C. Penney, when contacted by the New York Times, said that they didn’t know anything about the links and promptly fired their SEO firm, SearchDex.