Comments on: JC Penney has a bigger problem than paid links SEO industry Thoughts and Rants Sun, 12 Oct 2014 06:21:05 +0000 hourly 1 By: Sean O'Toole Tue, 11 Dec 2012 18:06:29 +0000 As someone new to the SEO game I’m surprised at the number of times I see this “throw links at it” mentality. Time after time I see this biting people in the rear end, and it’s amazing that a HUGE brand like JC-Penny would actually pay someone to do it.

I know this was a year ago, yet it doesn’t seem like many have caught on to best practices yet. Oh well, more business for me and others that do it right.

Thanks for the article.

By: Attempting to buy something Mon, 24 Oct 2011 02:22:29 +0000 When I saw the headline, I was hoping that you’d have information about (and ideally a solution for) the biggest problem with the JC Penney website: it refuses to let customers buy things.

I’ve struggled with this for at least two years. You can look at about fifty different items, and then the website loses its mind. First it can’t zoom in on the images. Then it doesn’t load the pictures at all. (Tiny little color swatches, yes, but not the item pictures.) Then it requires you to pick a color to order the product, but it won’t give you any items in the menu past “Pick a color”.

Right now, after trying two different browsers (Firefox and Safari), clearing the caches repeatedly, restarting, and otherwise trying every trick in the book, I have finally retrieved my saved “shopping bag”…sort of. It says that I have zero items in the shopping cart, which will cost me over $100. Since then, I’ve “added” two more items (supposedly successfully), without either the item count or the dollar value changing.

Now, when I click on things, six times out of seven it redirects me to the front page. Searches produce no results, just a refresh of the main page. Even clicking on “contact us”, which ought to be a hard-coded plain old link, reloads the main page.

When I click on the shopping cart, in an attempt to pay for the items I need (and can’t get elsewhere, or I would have), nothing happens at all.

Oh, and the reason I saved the shopping cart earlier and decided to come back to it is because the online coupon didn’t work: they offer free shipping on sales of more than $69, but more than $100 is somehow less than $69 according to the idiot computer.

This is my NORMAL experience with this website, not a special busy-during-the-holidays problem. I’ve had this experience during every month of the year and every time of day. It works okay if you know exactly what you want and go straight to that page. If you want to look around, it dies after a while.

My most effective strategy so far is to make a text-only list of the names of items that interest me most, send it to another computer, and go to a completely separate computer with a completely separate IP address to place the order. Alternatively, I can wait two or three days and try again. That *sometimes* wins me a temporarily functional experience.

JC Penney needs new web programmers.

And in the meantime, if any other customers are out there, then let me point out that your favorite web search engine can find the phone number (which you won’t be able to get from them, because clicking on “contact us” will only earn you the front page again), and a polite but detailed complaint about their busted website at the customer service person on the phone can win you a 20% discount. Perhaps if they have to give away enough of those discounts, then some stakeholder will decide that they should fire the idiots and hire some competent web programmers.

By: Alan Bleiweiss Sun, 17 Apr 2011 17:10:41 +0000 Daniel,

I agree that some issues may have more impact than others. I always advocate best practices though, which means not assuming that one particular issue is all that’s needed, especially in a highly competitive landscape.

By: Daniel Schilling Sun, 17 Apr 2011 07:29:38 +0000 Good points here and I agree with you, that JCPs website is a real mess. But there are tons of websites with such technical issues performing very well in the SERPs. I bet Google can detect almost all of these errors, such as the DC on the front page. Just take a look at the millions of WordPress blogs, where you can access the posts via many different URLs without a redirect or 404.

In my opinion their main problem is the lack of content. There has to be at least a small portion of text in order to rank for terms like “women skirts”.

By: Brand versus Generic Search Terms Part 1: Domains | One Result Mon, 04 Apr 2011 10:10:33 +0000 […] in its defence was that “hardly any” of the website’s visitors came from organic traffic.  Alan Bleiweiss wrote an excellent post about this red flag, placing the number of organic visitors to the site at […]

By: Can the SEO industry help Google? Thu, 03 Mar 2011 20:47:24 +0000 […] Google can’t solve this problem alone. One company can’t educate the masses about proper optimization any more than one black-hat SEO company is responsible for all the spam we see every day. Companies need to be educated on proper SEO practices, and with this education, they can begin to make smarter choices about their SEO efforts. Too few major sites aren’t getting much organic search traffic, proving that they have a bigger problem than paid links. […]

By: White Hat Link Building Theory - What JC Penney Could've Done - EngineWorks Tue, 22 Feb 2011 17:26:57 +0000 […] 9. Canonicalization – The problem of multiple URLs containing the same information, resulting in duplicate content and divided link value as Google Webspam Team Head Matt Cutt’s explained in 2006.  The most common source of the problem is independent www and non-www versions of a website, multiple page extensions, mirrored domains, or 302 redirects.  JCP has some serious duplicate content issues, as explained by Alan Bleiweiss in this great article. […]

By: Top 10 Reads as of – February 19, 2011 Sun, 20 Feb 2011 05:59:51 +0000 […] to identify the problem before Google. This has made national news. I like Alan Bleiweiss‘ JCPenney Has a Bigger Problem Than Paid Links, because he approaches it from the mind of an SEO Audit. Read and gather a few insights about SEO […]

By: Doc Sheldon Sat, 19 Feb 2011 19:06:38 +0000 Ah! I misunderstood. If it’s a DB problem, yeah, good luck getting it changed!

My clientbase is a few notches down the totem pole from yours these days. but when I was consulting, I did see what you’re talking about a lot… fear and insecurity reigned so heavy you could cut it with a knife, and every decision was based upon what would keep the beancounters off their backs, rather than what was good for the company or clients. Very little medium-term thinking, NO long-term thinking… Hell! Not much thinking at all, when you get down to it. I have to imagine that things aren’t too pleasant around the conference tables at JCP these days.
Sorry, I just don’t feel sorry for them… they knew the risks, IMO.

By: Stephanie Courtney Sat, 19 Feb 2011 18:15:22 +0000 Hi Doc,

The CMS has been modified to adhere to all of our specs. It’s not the CMS that restricts the field size, it is the manufacturer database that feeds into the CMS that is restricted and cannot be modified. And the manufacturer isn’t about to change their database or their input processes – they don’t have to, they aren’t marketing or selling online.

I believe JCP made their decision knowing full well what they were doing. I don’t think they are ignorant or innocent in the least, but as we are staring at them while their knickers are down, instead of just pointing at them, maybe we need to look at the deeper problems.

We tend to think the big guys know what they are doing, and in my experience (and at this point I have managed PPC accounts for 13 global brands), they haven’t clue.

Their sites are usually Frankensteinian monsters that have 18 arms and no head. And there is a truly massive amount of work to be done against insurmountable odds which will take time, man power and expertise to deliver – none of which they currently have. And the boys upstairs, who count the beans, just saw 4 billions of them fly out the window because they’ve discontinued their catalog – so no matter what it looks like, Frankenstein better sing and dance and be a sensation or a lot more people are going to be out of work – a lot more people.

This kind of pressure is palpable in the client meetings I go to these days, and the panic right now is crushing. It is just down right crushing, and the people who need it to work don’t care how it’s going to work, they just need those sales figures at the end of the day. Nothing else matters.

The thing is, I don’t think they made their sales figures at the end of the day even with the manipulations – and a part of me loves that and a part of me understands their plight.