It is what it is... JCP or their marketing company exploited a gaping hole in Googles ranking system to capitalize on traffic during the busy shopping season. As webmasters, we should all be so lucky as to land those number 1 spots! It's called capitalism and creative marketing.
- They found a way to outperform the competion.
- They weighed the risk versus reward.
- They took advantage of it and profited nicely.
People talk about JCP cheating, breaking the rules, etc... Cheating who? Breaking who's rules? It was a smart business decision in my opinion. Their stockholders should be happy. Who cares if they arent found for "Sheets" or "Skinny Jeans"? As long as they do good for JC Penney... or sheets @ JCpenney, right?
Sure... Im not happy my own sites got bumped down also, since I do play by the rules Google has scared me into playing, but that was my choice. Google has ME scared of the risk. (FUD)
How do we all know they werent doing this for years, and it was one of these jinky and never-ending algo changes Google was doing throughout 2010 that just inadvertantly rewarded them? Seems I recall one of the algo changes leading toward the holidays was to focus on big brands... maybe it was just a "perfect storm" of years of marketing that had never worked before, combined with a google change that was meant to protect brands, and it worked out stupid-perfect for JCP.
My take... my opinion... whatever you call it.
As a US citizen, I'm more interested to see how long it takes the Gov't to step in, cry foul against JCP, and start regulating the search results based on the fact that they can be "that easily" manipulated, and the fact that Google can "that easily" manually adjust them to -xx positions. I think this all part of a bigger-picture-setup of some kind anyhow...
The NYT's didnt publish this to affect JCP, they probably want something done with Google and its power over the flow of web traffic and internet commerce!
Just my take... look at the title, JCP was only the example, Google and exposing the weaknesses and ease of manipulation of search is the target!