The New York Times published a front-page article in its Business section that is getting the attention of every marketing executive and SEO manager. “The Dirty Little Secrets of Search” was the result of a three-month investigation into a paid links scheme that elevated J.C. Penney to the top of the search rankings in nearly every category in which it competes. The problem, of course, is that Google clearly spells out that such paid links are “in violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.” After the Times brought J.C. Penney’s ‘Black Hat’ techniques to Google’s attention, its engineers took corrective action. Within hours, the retailer had fallen from the top ranks on Google to positions down on the sixth or seventh page. J.C. Penney’s traffic and revenue from organic search will undoubtedly take a huge hit in the months to come. As much as this is a cautionary tale, this story also shows the importance of focusing your teams and consultants on ‘White Hat’ SEO that don’t violate search engine guidelines. BrightEdge’s SEO platform features an exclusive recommendations system that helps our customers discover link hubs that are 100% Google-approved. Contact us if you would like to learn more about this unique capability.