Two months ago the New York Times published an article with the headline “The Dirty Little Secrets of Search“. They where able to prove that US department store J.C.Penney used excessive linkbuilding practices on its online store, violating Google’s Web master rules. Google reacted immediately and many of J.C.Penney’s keywords lost their rankings in Google’s result pages. And Searchmetrics’ Organic Performance Index recorded a dramatic drop in visibility for the site.
Spokesman Darcie Brossart denied any knowledge and pointed to their agency: “J. C. Penney did not authorize, and we were not involved with or aware of, the posting of the links that you sent to us, as it is against our natural search policies.”
When checking our latest data update we found that there has now been a significant increase in visibility:
What happened? We cannot see a massive reduction/change in their link structure – this also would be way to fast and require more time. So it might be that the people at J.C.Penney have managed to convince Google that they really had no clue about what was going on at their agency – or the algorithm is giving them another chance. We have observed this happening for algorithm penalties many times before: after a couple of weeks or months the penalty has been taken back – at least partially. What’s surprising in this case is that the reinstatement did happen for what clearly was a manual adjustment.
When checking the history of some of their important keywords we found that they got their former rankings back – to exactly where they have been before. This can be seen very nicely when you look at the development of the keyword “jewelry”:
And – just to be clear: this case is completely independent from any Panda effects.
We (and of course all Searchmetrics Suite users) can watch with the quick analysis function how the J.C.Penney story continues…