While the SEO and search engine world in general is all fired up about the New York Times’ piece on JC Penney’s search dalliances it’s probably important to recognize what Google’s actions in response to the situation were: PR.
Now, that the New York Times is the new Google police (that’s for another discussion but between this, the Decormyeyes and Foundem it’s starting to look like the Times wants to make some waves by rocking Google’s boat) maybe the best way to get something done at the search engine is through the Times. When asked about this phenomenon of Google acting only when prodded by a major media outlet, Marketing Pilgrim’s Andy Beal had this to say
Google’s now too large of a company to take action that may be to the detriment of its business, unless publicly embarrassed into doing so.
So is Google losing its shine a little bit? Is all of this talk about content farms and spam and the like taken its toll on the search leader? Since most people who are involved in this dust-up depend on the engine to make a living by selling products and services either through Google or related to it, probably not.
What people really want is less junk in search results. What has happened throughout this ‘event’ is that the true situation may have some to bear. If Google doesn’t have the wherewithal or the stones to find and punish big players like JC Penney who are gaming the search results unless they are essentially cornered, then what makes anyone think they have the chops or even the desire to track down the millions of smaller search gamers out there?
Google has taken to spin on this whole spam issue by crying that Bing is copying their results. That’s just a diversion. What is kind of funny, though, is that JC Penney’s site does rank 4th in organic for the keyword ‘dresses’ on Bing’s engine as of this writing.
Google now has painted itself into a bit of a corner and it will be interesting to see how it gets out. Because of its constant harping on content being so critical to ranking (which was just a diversion from the fact that the real rank influence comes from links) it has now created a monster. Content farms have found a way to look like they are playing by the rules but all they are doing is abusing them. Quality is hard to determine when the limits of what is acceptable to the engines has been discovered. What comes out of all of this is maybe just that we now know Google can’t tell the difference between quality and junk after all.
So back to JC Penney. It looks like they have taken the link-abusing path to success which many, many, many others have and still do. Meanwhile, the other way to search success is create craptent to fill in the gaps. That makes Google sound a lot less attractive than it has been in the past.
Now, will that change anything? Not likely but let’s hope that Google isn’t going to rest on these rotten laurels.