The Dirty Little Secrets of Search via The New York Times

The New York Times published an interesting article about Google Search and J.C. Penny on Sunday and it’s loaded with interesting tidbits of information.

The article is about how J.C. Penny used a wide array of sites to link to their site thereby tricking Google into thinking the J.C. Penny site was worthy of being placed at the top of their search results for a wide variety of product searches.  Doing this isn’t illegal but is considered by Google to be a black-hat technique and Google is now punishing  J.C. Penny by pushing J.C. Penny further down the results page, which is bad for J.C. Penny’s business and reputation.

This is a worthwhile read because it’s loaded with good information about Google Search.  One of those tidbits is this.

A study last May by Daniel Ruby of Chitika, an online advertising network of 100,000 sites, found that, on  average,  34 percent of Google’s traffic went to the No. 1 result, about twice the percentage that went to No. 2.

This tells me that if you spend a lot of money on  SEO you better be very good at it, because coming in second may not be worth the money.  In fact, I would really consider the concrete value of buying  GoogAdWords, you pay for what you know you get, versus the hard to evaluate SEO dollars you may be spending now.

However, the very real takeaway is to make sure the members of your SEO team aren’t wearing black hats.   This article is going to cost someone their job on the J.C. Penny team.