Google Takes Overstock.com Out Of The Penalty Box Over Gaming Search Results

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Google has released Overstock.com from the ‘penalty box’ after the e-commerce destination was caught artificially boosting its search results earlier this year.

From the brief release: Overstock.com today announced that the search engine penalty enforced on them by Google in late February has been lifted. “We understand Google’s position and we have made changes to remain clearly within their guidelines,” said Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne.

According to the Wall Street Journal report from a few months ago, Overstock encouraged colleges and university websites to post links to Overstock products to get discounts on the retail site. Google’s search algorithm tends to factor ‘.edu,’ sites as more authoritative, and will show these results higher in search, and because educational sites don’t often link to retail sites, Ovestock’s product pages were boosted in search rankings.

Overstock discontinued the program with universities, but Google continued to penalize the retail site in search rankings. Overstock recently said that lower search rankings on Google hurt sales by 5 percent during the penalty period.

Google also cracked down on retailer JC Penney after the company gamed Google to get the top result in dozens of lucrative product searches.