Google has cracked the whip on The world's premier search engine is tossing the penalty flag at Overstock for artificially elevating its search ranking, according to the Wall Street Journal.

According to Google, Overstock had approached college websites, asking them to post links to Overstock's pages. The ecommerce site offered students attending the participating colleges discounts on its products.

According to the WSJ, Overstock apparently discontinued the college program February 10, but some universities were too slow in taking down the links.

Google acknowledges web marketers are constantly trying to figure out unique -- and sometimes unacceptable -- ways to juice up their search ranking. Earlier this year, Google sanctioned J.C Penny by dropping the retailer's ranking after Google found J.C. Penny was engaged in improper SEO practices.