Last Sundays NYTimes ran great story about the “dirty little secrets” of search optimization. Curious about J.C. Penny’s remarkably high-ranking during the holiday shopping season for a variety of searches (<grommet top curtains>?) the Times engaged an online search expert to figure out why. His conclusion: it was “‘Actually, it’s the most ambitious attempt I’ve ever heard of. This whole thing just blew me away. Especially for such a major brand. You’d think they would have people around them that would know better.” Someone–not it, said J.C. Penney, which fired its SEO consultant–“paid to have thousands of links placed on hundreds of sites scattered around the Web, all of which lead directly to JCPenney.com.” Said the Times, “[w]hen you read the enormous list of sites with Penney links, the landscape of the Internet acquires a whole new topography. It starts to seem like a city with a few familiar, well-kept buildings, surrounded by millions of hovels kept upright for no purpose other than the ads that are painted on their walls.”
millions of hovels kept upright for no purpose other than the ads that are painted on their walls–cyberspace, John Perry Barlow’s “new home of Mind,” circa 2011.