The New York Times has been demanding Google welfare, which would artificially promote the newspaper's stories in search results. Yet inept Times webmasters just killed hundreds of thousands of their own Google hits.
The newspaper probably wouldn't need to go begging for special favors from the search engine if it simply ran its Web operations with basic technical competence. Instead, the Times murdered the website of the International Herald Tribune tonight.
The goal was to fold iht.com into nytimes.com. Fair enough; combining the two sites could have resulted in more juice for the newspaper under Google's PageRank algorithm by combining the strong reputations of the two major newspaper sites.
But the Times executed wrong. Instead of redirecting old iht.com links to the same stories on the new nytimes.com server, it simply redirected all content to the same new landing page. When you click through the landing page, you end up not on the story you were looking for, but on the general global.nytimes.com homepage.
So instead of having 993,000 IHT hits in Google, as the search engine now estimates, the Times will soon have just one. For example, a search on the word "paris" within iht.com brings up 588,000 hits; they all appear to end up on the same general homepage, and thus will be collapsed together by Google.
The Times' longtime online chief, Martin Niesenholtz, recently whined that a Google search on the word "Gaza" didn't include any of his content on the first results page. And yet he just nuked 121,000 of his own articles containing that keyword.
That doesn't sound like the behavior of a self-improving, down-and-out newspaper exec but of a self-destructive long-term welfare recipient. As a certain newspaper put it 16 years ago, those sorts of people do themselves and their dependents "little good" and are the marker of a system that "isn't working very well." Google should tell the Times to take its own advice and fix its own systemic problems before asking for endless handouts.