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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Google Lays Down the Law on BMW

Google has flexed its clout by dropping BMW Germany from its search engine after realizing the iconic car manufacturer's German website (bmw.de) was artificially boosting its popularity ranking.

This sends out a strong warning to all online businesses employing aggressive optimization techniques to maximize their exposure and traffic in the search engines. Whilst most company's are using ethical procedures that are acceptable in the eyes of Google and other search engines, it's fair warning to anyone using black-hat techniques (those not in line with the search engine's guidelines).

Google has openly stated they will be clamping down on web spam this year. Many smaller, or lesser known websites have probably suffered the consequences of these anti-spam efforts already, but BMW Germany is the highest profile company to experience the true impact of Google flexing its muscles.

JavaScript re-directs were the reason that BMW's website was dropped from Google's search engine. As Matt Cutts highlighted, this is in violation of Google's Webmaster Quality Guidelines, which clearly address the issue of deceiving users or search engines by showing different content to each - also known as cloaking.

Not only has the website been dropped from the search engine, but its strong page rank has also been zeroed, meaning it will need to start again and build up its ranking from scratch. A costly exercise not only in re-optimization efforts, but in lost revenue and exposure.

In a sign that this is not an isolated case, Ricoh.de is rumored to be the next large company website to suffer the same fate. So it appears that these aggressive techniques, which were synonymous with pornographic and gambling sites, are being employed on a much larger scale, and will not be tolerated by Google or any other search engines.

This situation highlights two very important facts. When large companies are resorting to these tactics, it reinforces the importance that is placed on getting a top ranking in the organic search results.

Secondly, it should be a clear warning that, whether you are undertaking your own optimization efforts or employing a company to conduct your search engine marketing for you, you need to confirm that the techniques being used are ethical and inline with Google's (and Yahoo!'s) guidelines. Most professional search engine marketing companies will promote this fact somewhere within the product or service pitch.

You have all been warned...

posted by Scott Jones @ 9:37 am

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