The New York Times has worked to ensure that its site and search results are incredibly Google friendly, so Google friendly in fact that a search for “sex” on Google currently serves the NY Times internal archive search results for sex as #2.
Seems that the NY Times is republishing older archives as fresh and new pages, dated as “Today”, which has some influence on the Google rankings.
Since Google gives priority in search results to newly published and time relevant info, republishing old content as new is becoming a practiced Google spam technique; giving major publishers a major incentive to practic this black hat SEO technique themselves.
John On uncovers the questionable SEO tactics by the Times:
The King of Content is now dominating the Google SERPs across a wide swath of the keyword space, via the re-published, re-purposed, New York Times Archives. Each “article” is re-purposed on a clean, CSS-driven text page, clearly dated TODAY and not-co-clearly labeled as “originally published” back in 1997, 1998, or whatever all the way back to 1981. Of course cross-referenced, categorized, sub-categorized, ad-infinitum.
You can check for yourself on your own “current events” topics of interest. Look for query.nytimes.com (search results) and topics.nytimes.com (archives) showing up in the #1 spot for search phrases, as if the re-published content was “fresh news”. Via Google referral, many of them are full articles. Via the New York Times archive search pages, my tests mostly returned pay-per-article results sets. Yes, there are ads on the pages.