February 6, 2006 6:58 AM PST

Google blacklists BMW.de

Google has blacklisted BMW.de after the carmaker violated the search giant's guidelines by using a technique that could artificially boost its search engine rating, according to a Google engineer.

In a blog, Google software engineer Matt Cutts said that Google had removed BMW's German site from its Web index after the site included "doorway pages" that would automatically redirect visitors to a different URL.

Cutts explained that when Google's crawlers visited a BMW page, it saw blocks of text with repeated key search words such as "neuwagen," which means "new car" in German. However, when a user visited the listed page they would be automatically redirected to another page with less text and more pictures, which was more attractive than the page the crawler saw, but would have scored lower in Google's PageRank system.

"This is a violation of our Webmaster quality guidelines, specifically the principle of 'Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users,'" Cutts' blog said.

To regain Google listing status, Cutts expects that BMW.de will have to remove the JavaScript that redirects users around the site in this fashion and then send a reinclusion request to Google's Webspam team, which Cutts leads. BMW.de has already removed some of the redirect pages.

BMW may also have to disclose details of who created the doorway pages--and assure Google "that such pages won't reappear on the sites"--before the domains can be reincluded, Cutts said.

The German site of technology product vendor Ricoh is also due to be removed from Google "for similar reasons," Cutts said.

BMW and Ricoh were unavailable for immediate comment.

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
BMW, Google Inc., guideline, Ricoh Corp., search engine

30 comments

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German coverage about BMW / Google issue
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.zdnet.de/news/tkomm/0,39023151,39140757,00.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.zdnet.de/news/tkomm/0,39023151,39140757,00.htm</a>
Posted by thomas.wingenfeld (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
According to Google Law?
I am concerned about Google censorship of free speech on the Internet. Google is censoring a legitimate automaker, obviously the BMW marquee should rank high in a search engine. Most troubling is that Google is regulating the way the company uses information on the Internet. Perhaps a Google monopoly exits, Google employees believe that the automakers response to censor its website was compulsory.
Posted by rtaggert (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
black hat SEO
It looks like a misstake by BMW - and their SEO didn't read Matt Cutts' blog.
Posted by thomas.wingenfeld (9 comments )
Link Flag
RE
Google is not the only game in town, Yahoo also has a significant portion of the search market. While you have a right to free speech companies like Google aren't required to list that speech on their services nor do they have to allow companies to cheat in order inflate their page rank. If you violate the terms for News.com's Talkback your post will likely be erased or edited which is a forum of censorship. In others words if you want to use some else's service you have to follow their terms or lose the use of it.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
Censorship
"Google censorship of free speech on the Internet"

The Internet as a medium is protected by free speech, just like a number of other mediums. But what isn't protected is your right to do whatever you want on someone elses page. It's the same as putting a "Bush sucks" sign in your yard. Unless your 'neighborhood group' doesn't allow it, go ahead. But you can't put one in your neighbor's yard if they don't want you too.

Google isn't and can't make BMW do anything. They can only blacklist them and there are plenty of other search engines out there that would turn up that page.

That being said, I think that there may be situations (like the BMW example) where Google's actions may have been a little harsh.
I don't see why there couldn't be certain situations where redirects are reasonable. Maybe the policy needs a little tweaking.

Google monopoly? Give me a break!
Posted by AtariusRex (7 comments )
Link Flag
Not a "free speech" issue
Google's actions have nothing to do with censorship. BMW was caught red-handed trying to manipulate the search engine to inflate their ranking. When Google delisted BMW, their action didn't stop anyone from visiting BMW's web site, it only removed the site from the search engine database. The bottom line: Even a big company like BMW has to play by the same rules as everyone else.
Posted by Get_Bent (534 comments )
Link Flag
You are confused.
Google is the world's single greatest source of free advertising. All you have to do to be included is abide by the terms of service. It really is as simple as that.

Maybe BMW should ask for their money back. Oh, that's right, Google doesn't charge for inclusion.

Maybe BMW should sue for violation of their free speech rights. Oh, that's right, Google is a publicly held company and they alone decide who they list on their search engine.

Maybe BMW should have read the Webmaster Guidelines. Oh that's right, BMW is a huge multinational corporation and Google's silly rules shouldn't apply.

Ha.

Kudos to Matt and his team at Google.

Robert G. Medford
www.searchengineoptimizationsecrets.com
Posted by Robert G. Medford (1 comment )
Link Flag
Do your homework..
This is a common practice with all search engings and it is well documented in their sites!

BMW.de webmaster tried to deceive the web crawler using a very old stupid back doorway trick and they deserved to be moved.Period!
Posted by AbuAnas (10 comments )
Link Flag
Big Brother Google
A Billion$ company now effectively controls the 'Net and how we can go about displaying information on it.

Why shouldn't i be able to create an artistically outstanding page which contains graphics &#38; flash, but no text and then have other pages redirect to it? It's not as though BMW were claiming neu wagen and redirecting you to porn.

I think the Google 'you will play by our rules' attitude sucks
Posted by intellibloke (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RE
"I think the Google 'you will play by our rules' attitude sucks"

You own the service you get to set the rules. You only have to play by Google's rules if you want to be listed in their database. Google has interest in weeding out cheaters like BMW who try to inflate their page rank with such tactics.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
Message has been deleted.
Posted by Cyrus_K (60 comments )
Reply Link Flag
et tu, Google?
A company which once touted self-righteously its motto 'dont be evil' is now on its knees in front of the Chinese government helping it censor a billion people, and banning legitimate sites from it's search engine for violations of its 'law'.

Hey google - ignoring the fact that you're turning into a sleazy company - I _want_ good search results. If I'm looking for info on BMW, I expect BMW.de to show up - whether or not they're following your 'law'. If I have to use Yahoo, so be it.
Posted by (402 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Correction
I just read your article on Google banning BMWs website titled Google blacklists BMW.de

I noticed 1 thing that was incorrect in the article. which was more attractive than the page the crawler saw, but would have scored lower in Google's PageRank system.



Googles PageRank system is a measure for how many links are pointed to a particular website. The PageRank number can not be manipulated from on page factors such as keyword stuffing. Bmw.de was participation in website cloaking and that is banned by the Google webmasters Guidelines.



Great article!

I can help you clarify any Search Engine related facts for your future stories.



Spencer Hoyt

President

Comit Technologies

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.comittechnologies.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.comittechnologies.com</a>
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Politics as usual
I think the whole thing is politics. Google rolled right over for the Chinese government, grubbing for money and got publicly trashed for it.
So now they're taking on a titan of industry in a meaningless, possibly even silly, issue to prove to us that they're tough guys who enforce tough standards after all.

I smell a rat, and I'll bet somebody at Google called up BMW and said, "Excuse me, would you be willing to be blacklisted for a few hours?"
Posted by stan49 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
What did you expect?
Google's stupid like that. Right now they are playing the high and mighty role. I quit using their search engine a long time ago because Im starting to really dislike Googles attitude.
Posted by robertdohnert (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
High and Mighty
If I didn't like Google's corporate attitude, I would still continue to use their search tool. For me, it suits my day to day search needs. When it doesn't I use Dogpile, Altavista, Yahoo or any of a number of other search engines. Saying I won't use a free tool won't make anything better.
I guess if s few thousand people did that, then Google might start to lose advertising revenue... but that doesn't seem to be an ongoing trend.
I do appreciate that you decided to do something, even if it isn't terribly effective, other than complain like so many others.
Posted by AtariusRex (7 comments )
Link Flag
Doorway pages
Wouldn't you think a big company like BMW would know how to properly use doorway pages? Search engines do NOT like redirects. It smacks of "fake pages". If I can't put out 50 copies of my homepage, why should THEY be able to?
Posted by Padre213 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Then block most of the adult sites
You just summarized the adult industry. Why pick on BMW? Or is it becuase most people use the search engines to find porn
Posted by al881 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google should blacklist itself
Google is definetely a very good example of antagonism. First it's violated Human Rights because its control of information within China. And now is playing the mighty superhero when trying to control "The Quality" of www.BMW.de webpage.

It should first Blacklist itself.

It seems to me that for Google an issue like "politics overpassing Human Rights" is a less important problem than "Doorway Pages".

Besides if BMW.de has "Doorway Pages" it's my decision wether I come back to its webpage or not.
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
BMW violated the TOS
BMW violated the TOS, it is as simple as that.
Posted by reedsr (37 comments )
Link Flag
Welcome to the World
First of all, information would have been censored in China anyway, because if google didn't comply to China's censorship policy, the Chineese gov't would have blocked google as a whole. It was essentially a lose/lose situation, and google realised that censored profit is better than none at all (had google not adhered, it certainly would not have changed the opinion of the chineese gov't). Wether or not the internet and its information falls under "human rights" is debatable, but all of this negative attitude should be focused on how the Chineese gov't handles censorship, not google. Second, Google, interestingly enough, owns the google search engine. Therfore, the owners are allowed to set up whatever rules they want, and even still, enforce them. You disagree with the "play by our rules" mentality? Tough. That's how the world works. The only exception would be if google was your only option, or if google was the only way to get to BMW.de; which it's not.
Posted by (22 comments )
Link Flag
Google is a Company Not a Search Engine
Once the service became available that Companies can 'buy' their way to the top of Google's list, it should be quite clear that Google no longer is 'reporting' search terms from an objective view, they are simply a high-tech advertising Company that caters to the highest bidder.

This article brought to light 3 important lessons:

1. Google is not the only 'Search Engine Service' out there. NEVER rely on only one if you truly want variety in your search results.

2. As Google becomes a bigger and bigger Company, their respectability becomes smaller and smaller. (Money changes everyone)

3. Google is a FREE service (from a User's point of view), so you'll only get back from it what YOU paid for.
Posted by TMB333 (115 comments )
Reply Link Flag
hmm.
like anyone really "needs" a search engine to find out about BMW online.....

google is tommorrows aol.
Posted by cube3 (190 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google delists BMW
I think that the fact that Google delisted BMW from natural search but continued to take $$ (or Euros) for paid search of THE SAME SITE speaks volumes about Google. ie, they are all for rules and webmaster 'guidelines' but not so passionate that they will take a revenue hit for it.
Posted by mskilli (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
But Google break their own rules.. If I visit www.google.com from my desktop I get forwarded to Google UK (www.google.co.uk) or if I use my mobile phone I get forwarded to the mobile site (www.google.com/m). The cached version as seen by the Googlebot crawler is neither of these and ranks higher! Shocking!
Posted by KB-Kris (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I did read about at http://www.rollsrein.de News it is really Intresting such a big company they afford to pay Money for Publicity.
Posted by Mosley789 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I did read about at http://www.rollsrein.de News it is really Intresting such a big company they afford to pay Money for Publicity.
Posted by Mosley789 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
as a &lt;a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.jenkeller.com/" title="Milwaukee SEO Specialist"&gt;SEO Specialist&lt;/a&gt; I've learned to play "good" with Google. They own the playpen anyways, so we have to follow their Terms of Service. If you want your site on Google's Index, follow the terms. Or buy "Sponsored Links" :D
Posted by aerik77 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My ears pricked up when I read this because the first time I figured out that search engine results were being artificially manipulated was ten years earlier in 1996. I was researching a job interview. The company offering the job were the agency who had the account for BMW in London. However when I searched for BMW, Mercedes came up higher in the search results. I checked the page source and metatags but there was no mention of BMW in the Mercedes page. I started to think then perhaps some sniffing and page swapping may have been going on. Soon after I started developing these black hat Seonyx techniques myself. For a while I was very successful. Working for my own company, we had several years ahead of the game before Google introduced more sophisticated detection methods that made black hat too risky, as BMW has since found out. I miss the good old days :-(
Posted by Datadial (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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