It was recently discovered that home improvement company Home Depot was trying to improve its SEO with deceptive linking tactics, according to Search Engine Land. The retail giant had been requesting that its network of 2,000 service providers link to its website or even create hidden links to boost search engine rankings.
Taking link building shortcuts
According to Practical Ecommerce, there is no safe way to build links using shortcuts. Businesses that use link building tactics geared to manipulate rankings can cause trouble in the world of SEO. Last year, J.C. Penney and Google's Chrome browser marketing site were suspected of creating false link campaigns were penalized for breaking the guidelines, the source reports.
Google's guidelines outline some types of link schemes that can land businesses in trouble. They include links that are intended to manipulate PageRank, excessive reciprocal links or link exchanging, buying or selling links that pass PageRank and links to web spammers or bad web neighborhoods.
In the case of Home Depot, the its marketing team took an acceptable link building tactic and leveraged it in a way that was potentially misleading. Because the company made requests for links on the grounds that service providers would gain authority through the connection and said the link did not have to be visually present, doubts are circling about the ethics of the practice, the source explains.
Home Depot takes corrective action
When asked about the SEO campaign, Home Depot spokesperson Jean Niemi told Search Engine Land that the request was that there had been a misunderstanding.
Niemi said the company did not support hiding links and did not believe service providers would benefit from the connection as a way to rise in search engine rankings. In response, Home Depot plans to send follow-up letters to service providers that correctly explain its marketing policies.
"We have pretty strict SEO standards, and that's what we expect to be used," Niemi told the source.
Building a quality linking campaign can be vital to a business' growth and success, but there are hundreds of other factors that combine to algorithmically determine rankings, Practical Ecommerce explains. The best way to drive traffic and yield a return in revenue is to gain an understanding of Google's guidelines for running a well-educated and planned campaign.