By now, I’m sure most of you know all too well the story David Segal of The New York Times had to share with us: On early morning Wednesday February 9th J.C. Penney was the King of the hill when it came to search engine ranking results. They were #1 for multiple keywords such as “living room furniture”, “Samsonite carry on luggage”, “bedding”, and “dresses” outing competitors such as Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Wal-Mart, and even Brand owners such as Samsonite themselves. By later that night, J.C. Penney’s rankings had plummeted; they were buried to the 5th, 6th and even 7th pages of Google. On the following Saturday, The New York Times Published an article titled “The Dirty Little Secrets of Search” detailing how J.C. Penny put itself in this situation.
The internet community was roaring. Twitter tweets, Facebook messages, blog posts, and news articles began to report how Google decided to crack down on Black Hat SEO Tactics. Companies started to panic in the wildfire that ensued; corporate executives made phone calls trying to figure out how to make sure what happened to J.C. Penney didn’t happen to them. In the midst of this pandemonium, one of our clients called us and asked if we could help.
They wanted a detailed backlink report of their site to ensure that they were not at risk of facing Google’s Wrath. The BrightEdge platform already had the capability to display detailed reports on backlinks. We quickly restructured that capability to audit a company’s entire backlink footprint, looking for indicators of link hubs, link farms and paid links.
And so BrandSafe was born and open to the SEO community as “a new, free analysis and alert product that can expose disreputable SEO techniques to CMOs before they end up in the headlines.” We decided to offer this as a free service not just our own customers, but non-customers as well. We felt that this was the right way to promote White Hate SEO tactics. We knew that offering this service would indirectly make search a much more pleasant and enjoyable experience for both organizations and users because this is the heart of White Hat SEO. Within a couple of weeks, we were able to conduct and analyze reports for more than 1000 BrandSafe link audit requests. The results weren’t pretty as we discovered that approximately 25% of the companies we audited had Illegitimate “Black Hat” backlinks. The bad news is that most senior management is unaware that their company is engaging in such risky tactics. If these sites are caught, they risk serious punishment by Google and a detrimental blow in possible revenue. At BrightEdge, we focus on innovation and contributing to the SEO community. We strive on helping marketers rise above the increasing clutter of the web and drive organic revenue from search engines across the globe in a measurable, predictable way.