• February 6, 2006
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Google Puts the Brakes On BMW's Ranking

Google has removed BMW's German site, www.bmw.de, from its search index for allegedly engaging in deceptive tactics to increase its rating. Matt Cutts, a Google employee, revealed the removal in a blog posting on Saturday. The move is indicative of Google's attempt to combat spam in other languages in 2006, according to Cutts. The automaker's German site included doorway pages, those that redirect Web surfers to a different site, according to Cutts. When a search engine visited particular pages on www.bmw.de, it saw text-heavy sites that repeatedly featured words like Neuwagen, which is German for new car.
But, "a user's browser would immediately trigger a JavaScript redirect to a completely different URL," that displayed more pictures than text, Cutts said. "That's a violation of our webmaster quality guidelines, specifically the principle of 'Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines [from what] you display to users,'" Cutts blogged. According to published reports, however, BMW denies the claim. The automaker already has removed some of its redirection pages, but Cutts expects that Google's Web-spam team will need a reinclusion request, detailing who created the doorway pages. Before the domains can be reinstated, however, Google probably will "need some assurances that such pages won't reappear on the sites," Cutts wrote. Another German site, www.ricoh.de, will soon be removed from Google's index for similar reasons, according to Cutts. The doorway-pages approach is one of the more popular, yet disruptive, techniques that a Web site can use to bolster its search engine ranking, according to Sapna Satagopan, research associate at Jupiter Research. "[It] is one of the biggest no-nos for search engine optimization," she says. "With this coming into light...there is a lot of work that BMW would [have to do] to handle that kind of a [PR] backlash and to make sure...that they clarify how they're going to handle it, how they're going to approach the problem, and how quickly they're going to resolve it and reassure the webmaster community that they [will] be following those guidelines from here on." Two of the broader ways for marketers to increase search engine rankings without employing spam techniques are to ensure that the Web-site architecture is clean and to use reputable sites in their communities to link to them, according to Satagopan. "As they try to increase their efforts and make the results cleaner, it is more important for the marketer, whether it's BMW or any other marketer, to make sure that they conform to guidelines and stick to them." Related articles: Marketing Expenditures Will Double This Year Google's Free Web Analytics--A Stalking Horse? Faster, Better Keyword Marketing Management Omniture's new tools provide a single user interface for better bid management, Excel integration, and click fraud alerts.
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