You wouldn’t think a major brand like JC Penny would allow itself to be lead astray by an SEO company, but it looks like that’s just what happened as reported by the NY Times
Links were placed on thousands of web sites using deceptive anchor text (the text phrases that are used within a link to a web site) in an attempt to get JC Penny’s web pages to rank higher. And it worked very well. J.C. Penny had top rankings for hundreds of keywords during the holidays.
However, the practice of buying text links or placing deceptive links in order to influence rankings is against Google’s terms and conditions, as well as most search engines.
J.C. Penny has now been penalized by Google. They recently fired their SEO company.