Overstock.com Gets Spanked by Google for Gaming Its Rankings

Chief Marketing Officer Alhan Keser quoted by Wallet Pop

Yet another retailer has been caught trying to game Google's search system. Seems Overstock.com was compensating some sites to link to the retailer's site on certain keywords, thus causing its rankings to rise in Google searches.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Overstock.com actually offered a 10% discount to university and college-affiliated sites for linking to the shopping site. Websites with a .edu rather than .com are more highly valued by Google's analytics. Academic institutions rarely link to commercial sites, so when it happens, that site's rankings soar relative to the keywords containing the links.


Just last week, an investigative report by the New York Times caught JCPenney in a similar scheme. Both JCPenney and Overstock.com have been punished by Google by having their sites returned much lower in the rankings, in some cases several pages down from their former top spots.

JCPenney says it had no part in the scheme that had fake sites writing about consumer products and linking out to the retailer's site. Overstock says it complied immediately with Google's requests to take down its links from .edu's.So how prevalent are these types of scams? Walletpop asked Blue Fountain Media, the very company that aided the New York Times in investigating JCPenney, and according to Alhan Keser, its chief marketing officer, it happens all the time, but only recently has been noticed by the mainstream media.

"The JCPenney story didn't come as a shock, but it was a shock that it was on such a large scale," said Keser. Thanks to Google's popularity, approximately 70% of all internet searches are conducted on Google, there's a great demand for training in how to get to the top of the results page, he said.

Read more on Walletpop.com

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