Posted February 14, 2011 9:39 am by with 4 comments

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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.

  • Last time I checked Google’s stock was still trading at over $600/share. I predict it will fall, but even if it goes down in half, it will still trade for about 10 times what Yahoo trades for. What does that have to do with Google having what I consider to be a few minor spam issues? It means that the average Joe doesn’t give a crap about Google having to deal with a spammy search result or two. What are the searchers other options? Bing and Yahoo? And they are less spammy?

    • @Stuart – Can’t argue your point at all. Most people don’t know what is going on and most don’t care. Here is probably the kicker on it. When it comes to craptent most people are not in tuned enough (or dare I say intelligent enough) to see something that was written with the engines in mind and not a human being.

      Of course, let’s not even talk about accuracy because most people believe that if it’s on the Internet it must be true! It’s like producers of ‘realty shows’ that manipulate outcomes etc. The people watching the show don’t care and don’t even think about asking whether it is really real. They just want to be entertained.

      This whole thing is probably more of an indictment of the education systems of ‘developed’ countries when people aren’t smart enough to even pay attention to quality.

      Oh well!

      • Cynthia

        Wait. . . reality shows aren’t real? Frank. You’re crushing my soul here. And just for the record. JC Penny is the first place I go when I’m looking for a little black dress and an area rug to use as my own personal red carpet. It all makes sense to me.

  • william_teller

    Google is certainly more spammy than Bing in the searches that I do. The main reason I stopped using Google for searches was because I was tired of wading through dozens of seemingly valid links but just eHow and demandmedia junk. Bing has spam too, but less of it since it’s market share is less; people would rather get on Google than Bing since Google has more market share and better image in the search field. But this popularity of Google just encourages people to want to rank high and first page so they do everything they can to game Google, black hat SEO, included. Google is a victim of its own success and its own algorithms. Time for a change, Google. In the meantime, I’ve switched to Bing . . . and a pleasant change it has been!