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Is NYT Link Baiting With Link Outings?

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The Friday prior to Mother's Day, the New York Times reported on the flower industry and link buying. The article titled "Trying to Game Google on 'Mother's Day Flowers'" was another in what now seems to be a regular column on major advertisers also using 'black hat' methods to game Google.

JC Penney's and Overstock had been previously investigated by the New York Times for their link building methods. No doubt the stories received major coverage and links throughout the search industry - a double win for the paper's website.

How does the newspaper find these stories? Perhaps the drop in advertising of various clients give them an area to look at, or their SEOs need to not only work on optimizing the newspapers site but contribute stories.

The current story comes during a time when the newspaper must have suffered like most print news from decreased advertising in seasonal ad spends they became accustomed to in previous years.

"Internet marketing experts say Teleflora, FTD, 1800Flowers.com and ProFlowers are trying to elevate their Web sites in search results with a strategy that violates Google's guidelines," they noted.

"On Wednesday, The New York Times sent Google representatives a list of roughly 6,000 links to the flower companies that were built in the last month. After Google's spam team studied the list, a company spokesman, Jake Hubert, sent this statement:

"None of the links shared by The New York Times had a significant impact on our rankings, due to automated systems we have in place to assess the relevance of links. As always, we investigate spam reports and take corrective action where appropriate."

In essence, Google said that these companies tried to game its algorithm, but for the most part, their efforts failed. So what we are talking about here is not Internet subterfuge -- it is attempted Internet subterfuge."

Google had not dropped these major brands from the rankings as of today. These links may be more an advertising campaign on sites that may bring them converting traffic. Though they also are more likely paid links for SEO purposes, they show more that their marketing team does not fully understand the power of their brand. Writing articles about Mother's Day flowers would have as much lift as most of the links and if written well would garner their own free links.

The New York Times once again shows the interest it has in the SEO space, but again shows they still do not fully understand it. Do marketing companies wanting to get recognition just have to pull a link report about an industry and pass it along to the newspaper?


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