Overstock.com Faces Google Penalty Against Paid Links (Links-for-Discounts Deal)

Overstock.com was enjoying some great rankings earlier this year. Overstock.com suffered a similar fate as jcpenney.com. The Wall Street Journal reports that they've disappeared for all kinds of searches they used to rank highly for, such as [vacuum cleaners] and [laptop computers].Overstock didn't use a link network to buy links. Instead, they were boosting their […]

Overstock.com was enjoying some great rankings earlier this year. Overstock.com suffered a similar fate as jcpenney.com. The Wall Street Journal reports that they've disappeared for all kinds of searches they used to rank highly for, such as [vacuum cleaners] and [laptop computers].

Overstock didn't use a link network to buy links. Instead, they were boosting their rankings by "encouraging websites of colleges and universities to post links" to Overstock pages so that students and faculty could receive discounts on the shopping site.

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overstock.com link scheme

Search News Central linked to a document that outlines the details of the program:

Overstock.com is offering ABAC students and faculty 10% off of selected products using the coupon code: 121728… Link Details; please use the following hyperlinks for each keyword:
"vacuum cleaners" should by the hyperlink to: http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/VacuumCleaners/2004/subcat.html
"gift baskets" should be the hyperlink to: http://www.overstock.com/Gifts-Flowers/GiftBaskets/125/dept.html…

overstock link deal

As the WSJ reports, Overstock has now realized this program is seen by Google as an attempt to manipulate their algorithms and has ended the program:

"Overstock said it discontinued the program on Feb. 10, before hearing from Google, but said some university webmasters have been slow to remove the links." After ranking in the top three of Google's organic search results, Overstock has now dropped to the fifth or sixth pages on searches for terms such as [vacuum cleaners] and [laptop computers].

The WSJ story noted that Google took action after a competitor complained. Will be interesting to see if more competitors beging outing each other.

[tags]paid links,link bait[/tags]

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