Sometimes even prominent organisations get on the wrong side of SEO and indulge in Black Hat tactics.
Back in 2011, JCPenny was exposed by The New York Times for placing paid links on their sites without a nofollow tag.
JCPenny quickly reacted and fired some SEO guys but saw a massive dip in its rankings and harmed its reputation as well in the process.
So what was the problem with what JCPenny did in the first place?
Essentially Google frowns upon anything that violates its Webmaster Guidelines.
This includes situations such as placing links that have been purchased for ranking purposes and the over-exchanging of links.
To give you an idea of the sort of thing JCPenny was doing, the retailer placed a tonne of very small ads containing nothing but the most relevant keywords in its industry.
And they failed to indicate that these links were for advertising purposes and not SEO.
That’s what the nofollow tags are designed to do.
Now onto Christian Monitor Science.
The news organisation blatantly placed in its footer links that it had paid for again without the nofollow tag.
And in that space towards the bottom of the site’s pages, well below all the content and internal hyperlinks, they found the ideal hiding spot.
Their ad director at the time didn’t even think there was any problem with what they were doing despite the JCPenny saga having occurred only recently.
But does this whole issue matter enough that I’ve created a sort of a case study about it in this article?
For me, willfully going against Google’s guidelines is very problematic.
Does Black Hat SEO still exist?
Yes, of course, it does.
But I feel it is likely to do more harm than good over the long run to a website.
And while you may enjoy a month or two of solid rankings, once you’re forced to add those nofollow tags and damage your rating, you may not end up recovering for years!