Being a marketing SEO type this article caught my eye:

From Lands in Google’s Penalty Box Over Links-for-Discounts Deal

Wow, was enjoying some great rankings earlier this year and you need not wonder why. How was totally blackhat. Webmaster World began examining why they were seeing such great rankings for numerous common terms and led to another mainstream news organization “outing” a major retailer for linking practices.

Last night, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Overstock was boosting their rankings by “encouraging websites of colleges and universities to post links to Overstock pages so that students and faculty could receive discounts on the shopping site. Overstock said it discontinued the program on Feb. 10, before hearing from Google, but said some university webmasters have been slow to remove the links.” These are called backlinks and to the Google spiders this is some pretty impressive spider food that leads to great SERPs!

In Overstock’s case, there a pay to play scheme whereas the retailer offered discounts of 10% on some merchandise to students and faculty. In exchange, it asked college and university websites to embed links for certain keywords like “bunk beds” or “gift baskets” to Overstock product pages.

Once outed and after ranking in the top three of Google’s organic search results, Overstock has now dropped to the fifth or sixth pages on searches for terms such as [vacuum cleaners] and [laptop computers], much like JCPenney suffered after being outed by a New York Times article less than two weeks ago. Forbes was also penalized this month for selling links.  Folks we call this the Google sandbox!

Links from .edu (and .gov) sites are viewed as the most trusted and authoritative by Google’s algorithm. would highlight URLs and desired anchor text for the people to use.

LOL and people ask is Blackhat SEO unethical?