Planet13 - 4:21 am on May 8, 2011 (gmt 0)
The fact that now they are going after Google time and time again tells me something.
Well... you might be right...
The article mentions a company that sells traffic analysis software, and they state that they measured an upsurge of links to one of the floral companies starting around February.
Now maybe that analysis company new someone at the NYT and figured that they could catch some company red-handed buying links and get some free publicity for their company.
Or maybe google had prepared for this after doing the JCP article and, knowing that Mother's Day was the next big ecommerce shopping event, hired them out ahead of time to start tracking the big players.
But don't forget that writers in a newspaper / magazine are ALWAYS trying to scoop their fellow writers, and it might just be someone (a frustrated former webmaster, perhaps), who figured there would be some shenanigans and had the acumen to know what to look for and whom to talk to.
We tend to think of newspapers as these all powerful entities that set nationwide opinions, when oftentimes, the print media gets manipulated itself without realizing it (anybody remember WMD?)