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Be Careful What You Wish For: SEM Marketing

By Joshua Driver

Recently, an article came across my email from the New York Times discussing a recent blunder JCPenny made with hiring a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) provider to create better natural search results for the firm. 

This service linked keywords across numerous websites that were not associated with consumer goods websites, (imagine those “spammy” sites with little to no content).   While this did increase internet traffic to their site, Google views this type of “Black Hat” marketing as negative.  Naturalized search is based on like-sites linking towards your corporate webpage.  The Google algorithms value the links as a recommendation, and places the target site higher in naturalized search.  JCPenny’s agency used hundreds of links, but not from websites with relevant content .  Google reviewed this issue and ultimately placed JCPenny at the bottom of many search results. 

In light of this situation, we believe it is important to keep part of your digital marketing budget allocated towards SEO.  Marketers need to make sure that the brand is also being delivered across other direct channels as well to guarantee consumers are finding you first.

To read the full article at the New York Times, visit:



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Thanks for the advice. It must have been hard times for JCPenny to get back on track.

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