Google penalized Overstock.com for link building techniques that involved granting discounts for college students in exchange for discounts on merchandise. EDU links are often coveted by SEO companies because of the perceived trust that comes with receiving a link from an academic institution and the ease of receiving links by providing money or discounts to poor students.
Overstock.com was offering 10 percent off a variety of items in exchange for keyword rich links on student web pages. Colleges typically give 10 – 75 megabytes of web space to students who can host files and personal web sites and here is an example of an edu page with links to Overstock.
The company discontinued this link building program on February 10th on their own accord and the penalty was assessed by Google just two weeks later. The company claims that it is working to remove these links but that it is taking some time to clean them up. Like J.C. Penney, Google handed down a manual punishment that has seen Overstock.com’s product pages relegated to the sixth page of results.
This has been the third example this month of a major corporation being penalized by Google. Forbes.com was penalized for selling links but blamed the penalty on legacy pages that accidentally went live as part of a redesign.