New York Times writer David Segal likens Google to the entrance to the largest shopping mall on the planet. I'll take it a step further and call the innovative search company one of the most powerful media companies in the world. Its search results dictate the information that most of us read on whatever topic sparked our interest at work or at home.

Google takes seriously its responsibility to index the world's information, and last week, after being presented the results of a New York Times investigation, the search company took what it calls corrective action against JC Penney by demoting its status in search results. The charges against JC Penney? That the retailer gamed Google's natural search system by planting thousands of links to the retailer's website in order to increase its appearance in search results for such varied keywords as "dresses", "aluminum sheets," "snoring," and "glass shower doors."

On the flipside, European Union officials are investigating Google for anti-trust law violation, hypothesizing that ad dollars increase both paid and natural search rankings.

Both JC Penney and Google deny the charges.

Segal's piece from Saturday's Times is a great window into the world of search engine optimization -- a good read for anyone interested in learning a little more about what is behind those Google search results that we all rely on.