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Google Delists BMW-Germany 613

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the wild-wild-west-of-internet-search dept.
Raenex writes "The car maker BMW has had its German website bmw.de delisted from Google. The delisting was punishment for using deceptive means to boost page ranking, which has now been set to zero for BMW. Matt Cutts, a Google employee who works to stop unethical search manipulation, originally reported the delisting in his blog and suggests that camera maker Ricoh is not far behind."
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Google Delists BMW-Germany

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  • Old news (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:14PM (#14647868)
    This happened a while ago... it was old when digg.com listed it.
  • Blog Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:14PM (#14647869)
    You could at least add a link to the blog entry you mention. Like, say, this one [mattcutts.com].

    Sheesh.
  • by Dan Farina (711066) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:22PM (#14647893)
    No, they won't be able to find BMW-Germany. BMW in other locations, if I understand correctly, should remain unaffected. Note that BMW International is still indexed and at http://www.bmw.com/ [bmw.com]
  • by globalar (669767) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:27PM (#14647901) Homepage
    It's not the keyword, but a specific domain. Only bmw.de was penalized and not, for example, the international portal bmw.com. The .de domain has apparently been grossly "offending" for some time, so this probably was not a snap decision. I'm sure someone thought to call PR.
  • Re:Politics (Score:3, Informative)

    by dracocat (554744) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:31PM (#14647916)
    maybe they could have lowered it's rating, but remove it?

    They did simply lower it. They reset its page rank to zero, so it shows up at the bottom of any results, or amongst all the other zero page rank results.

    But as far as search engines go, a listing at the end is just the same as not being listed at all. In any case they did just as you said, they lowered its ranking. The summary I guess is technically incorrect, but practically acurate.
  • by garbletext (669861) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:50PM (#14647980)
    this is quite common. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Mirrors_and _forks [wikipedia.org] for more info.
     
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:JesseW/Full_mirr or_list [wikipedia.org] has a more or less complete list of sites that use wikipedia's content.
  • Re:Politics (Score:3, Informative)

    by catwh0re (540371) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:51PM (#14647982)
    I'd hardly say it was political, or with political motivations. Google have guidelines and bmw.de did not follow them. For Google to alter the page rank to anything other than zero would be less ethical than resetting it to zero. (afterall no one is to know how much of their rank was attributed to the keyword mashing) Note this isn't an actual blacklist, but rather having the page-rank which was acquired by inappropriate means, reset to zero allows it to in time regain a significant position, but only for relevant websearches

    Resetting the page-rank to zero is fair and non-permanent. Simply put bmw.de will regain a legitimate page-rank in the future, but for now this is the short term consequence of using keyword treatment to your website. (Note the bmw.de website would display paragraphs of motoring related keywords when javascript was turned off, this tactic overtime artificially boosts your page rank. It is easy to reproduce, however it is not an invisible action and is against most search sites terms.)

  • by TCQuad (537187) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:56PM (#14647992)
    They did simply lower it. They reset its page rank to zero, so it shows up at the bottom of any results, or amongst all the other zero page rank results.

    Nope [google.com], it's really, really gone. Instead of seeing the global site [google.com], you can only see the .com site. [google.com]
  • Re:Politics (Score:2, Informative)

    by SiliconAddict (690343) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:00PM (#14648013)
    Hmmmm.. not entirely sure how the page ranking works.. Go to google and enter "site:bmw.de" and you will get 0 results at the moment.
  • by Cherita Chen (936355) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:02PM (#14648022) Homepage
    The improper way to boost page rank is to hide descriptive text and "key words" in the body of your page (same color as backround color), add spurious "alt" tags to images, and using links from "link farms"...

    The proper way to boost your site is to use descriptive text in the body of your page, use descriptive and accurate "alt" tags (for text browsers), add proper meta data to your page, as well as advertise or share links with relevant sites...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:04PM (#14648027)
    Simple. You have a normal page that your users see. When the Google spider reaches your site, you serve him a special baked page full of keywords. How would you do it? Simple, just check who's accessing your site. Google plays nice, the 'bot always check ROBOTS.TXT first, and also, its IP can always be resolved to a hostname like somerobot.google.com.

    So BMW was cheating - they detected that Google was coming, and served such a page (also known as a "doorway page" in SEO business. Simple as that.
  • by Saeger (456549) <farrellj@@@gmail...com> on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:06PM (#14648031) Homepage
    So, Google delisted bmw.de for doing something that "Search Engine Optimizers" call SE cloaking or SE stealth. This is where you show the search engine crawler one keyword-loaded thing, but then show the normal user another thing; usually this is done by looking at the HTTP_User_Agent server-side, but in this case bmw.de was doing it with client-side javascript redirects.

    IMO, they and many others deserve to be delisted for attempting to game the system. The only SE tactic more disgusting is spamming blogs for free pagerank boosts.

    The best legit means to increase your rank is simply to have quality content that people WANT to link to, and which is intelligently marked up (e.g. use header tags for important stuff; not sliced up images that semantically mean nothing).

  • by ben_1432 (871549) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:19PM (#14648088)
    There's a few comments which talk about Google stripping the PR like that's the punishment.

    The punishment is not the stripping of PR, but being delisted. There are no bmw.de pages in Google. The URL is not in Google.

    PR is calculated by an algorithm. It has been reset to 0, but that is because the site has been DE-LISTED. It is 0 now, because the URL is not in Google.

    When the site qualifies for reinclusion the site's PR will return to it's normal value. It is calculated by an algorithm on a computer, not a pen, paper and opinion.

    Now, the relevance of PageRank.

    PageRank is one of many deciding factors used to sort search results by relevancy. It is far from the only one, and if you use something like http://www.seochat.com/?tool=7&option=com_seotools [seochat.com] you will see pretty quickly that the PR between results can vary greatly. You are quite likely to see lower-PR pages (or no PR pages) returned in the top 20 results, ahead of higher ones.

    For instance, porn:
    5 - 5 - 5 - 6 - 5 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 7 - 5 - 5 - 5 - 0 - 0 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 5 - 5 - 0

    If PR was truly a critical factor, there would not be 3 pages with PR0 in the first 20 results, and PR5's would not dominate the results.

    I'm disappointed that after 10 years Google can't write a spider that DOESN'T identify itself as GoogleBot and confirms that pages match what the spider sees. How hard could it possibly be to setup a few more spiders' whose sole job is to follow the real Googlebots and misidentify their UA to confirm what's been indexed?
  • by SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:31PM (#14648143)
    If they did that, then you'd probably accuse them of being evil sell-outs for treating corporations differently to other spammers. Google just did what they have always been very clear about: Try and manupulate your search results, and you may get delisted.
  • by fatboyslack (634391) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:37PM (#14648166) Journal
    Read the article, also extra information here
    http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2006/02/06/11390 74113688.html?from=top5 [theage.com.au]

    It appears the BMW site was also referencing 'used cars' as well as new cars, and redirecting to their own site.

    Sounds dodgy to me.
  • by The-Trav-Man (913000) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:46PM (#14648207)
    If you're after bmw in Germany generally you'll either type in bmw.de or bmw.com and look for the international link. This doesn't affect people who are after bmw so much as it affects bmw's hits when people search for "luxury motor car" or "vehicle" or other terms that will now spit out a heap of other brands before bmw.com. Additionally articles from BMW are going to be pretty far down the list so people will see more third party information than first hand biased as hell BMW articles. Google isn't essential. They perform an essential service (page indexing, providing search functinalities) however there are many other providers that would love to step up to the plate if google left a gap. If you want to use AJAX to do your whole site then only one page is indexable, as only one page can be directly linked. AJAX is not an index friendly technology, that has nothing to do with Googles preferences
  • by Patrick13 (223909) on Monday February 06, 2006 @12:06AM (#14648258) Homepage Journal
    > While this is against the googles terms of service, I can see how someone might think this was a perfectly valid way of countering the fact that google wasn't indexing their site well.

    The thing is that the "doorway pages" were stuffed full of german keyword terms like "used cars" and the content was repeated over and over again, with only the model names substituted.

    It is garbage. If BMW didn't like the fact that pages didn't work as designed, they should have redesigned them, not presented a totally different set of content to the search engine bots.

    Also, you seem to suggest that Google was at fault because it couldn't index the content properly, when, in fact, no search engine could index the site as is as it was designed.

    Matt Cutts has a screen cap on his blog -

    http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/ramping-up-on-intern ational-webspam/ [mattcutts.com]
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Monday February 06, 2006 @12:39AM (#14648396) Homepage Journal
    Google pulled their own help pages when news spread that they were using a similar technique to gain rank.

    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/03/10/193422 2 [slashdot.org]
  • by drownie (901913) on Monday February 06, 2006 @12:43AM (#14648414)
    I'm very sorry but that doesn't make any sense at all in german. Translated back it means something like: " Suck an egg you fat bumping - you are 136 kilo foam rubber oil "
  • by toddestan (632714) on Monday February 06, 2006 @12:44AM (#14648416)
    Then when are they going to "delist" Experts exchange, a site that often comes up for technical questions, but does not allow the answer to be seen without a subscription.

    Actually, you can view the responses to atleast some of the questions on Expert Exchange. Just keep scrolling down past the several pages of ads and other crap. I still don't like the site though.
  • by chris macura (899109) on Monday February 06, 2006 @12:47AM (#14648433)
    From my experience Experts Exchange lets you see all answers to questions, but you can't post your own question unless you register. Posting questions is also free I believe, but you get better results if you offer a bounty [-- totally based on anecdotal evidence. I've never used EE to post questions before.]
  • by SurgeonGeneral (212572) on Monday February 06, 2006 @12:52AM (#14648445) Journal
    "BMW's site is still accessable, try this: Google Query: BMW. See, BMW's site is still acceptable from Deutschland. Now, quit whining."

    Tell me, exactly where on that page do you see BMW.de?
    I had some time to kill so I went through the results a bit ... In the first 250 (!) search results BMW.de still does not appear. I scrolled past BMW USA, BMW Canada.. even BMW korea! But no BMW.de.

    So, in the future, before you tell people to "stop whining", I suggest you make sure you aren't completely and utterly wrong.
  • by pocopoco (624442) on Monday February 06, 2006 @01:05AM (#14648507)
    One of the other sites reporting on this mentioned:
    In BMW's case the doorway page contained the word "gebrauchtwagen" - meaning "used car" in German - over 40 times. The real home page, to which searchers were seamless redirected, only contained the word twice.

    Sounds like fraud to me.
  • by typical (886006) on Monday February 06, 2006 @01:10AM (#14648535) Journal
    Amazon's homepage currently seems to be a redirect to a different page (which is another redirect). That last page contains a unique identifier in the title. This behavior probably interacts poorly with Google's ranking algorithm (since "nobody" links to a page with a unique identifier in the path), just as a guess.

    $ telnet www.amazon.com 80
    Trying 207.171.175.29...
    Connected to www.amazon.com.
    Escape character is '^]'.
    HEAD / HTTP/1.0

    HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
    Date: Mon, 06 Feb 2006 05:07:51 GMT
    Server: Server
    Set-Cookie: skin=; domain=.amazon.com; path=/; expires=Wed, 01-Aug-01 12:00:00 GMT
    Location: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/subst/home/home. html [amazon.com]
    Vary: Accept-Encoding,User-Agent
    Connection: close
    Content-Type: text/plain

    Connection closed by foreign host.
  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday February 06, 2006 @02:52AM (#14648966) Homepage Journal
    The only SE tactic more disgusting is spamming blogs for free pagerank boosts.

    I've had to turn on full moderation of my blog comments due to this. There are the typical spams for illegal drugs and twisted sex, but more and more, recently, I'm seeing links to big name-brand companies.

    What I don't know, though, is if these are
    • some attempt to confuse bayesian classifiers
    • real SEO from the companies listed
    • from their competitors in hopes that Google will ban them
    • somthing else?
    and thus I'm not sure what the right course of action is, beyond hitting delete.
  • by pe1chl (90186) on Monday February 06, 2006 @05:16AM (#14649366)
    A key problem with a flash site is that it is not a html hyperlinked site.
    You have found one of the problems. There are others, like accessability.

    Now restyle your site so that it is not a flash-only site.
    For example, you can add 'link' elements to the head section with rel=contents
    or rel=chapter and others. This will give the search engine something to
    follow, and the better browsers also use those links to build a site navigation
    bar.
  • by Halo1 (136547) <jonas...maebe@@@elis...ugent...be> on Monday February 06, 2006 @05:19AM (#14649373) Homepage
    When are they going to delist the many, many sites that seem to be created wholely for users looking for an obscure product, however, when you go to the page it is yet another "index" page full of advertisements, often without reference to the product that the user was looking for.
    Probably as soon as you inform them about it [google.com]. They did so at least shortly after I reported a bunch of spamvertising sites that came up if you searched for "De Sleghte" (common misspelling for a known second hand bookstore chain in Belgium and The Netherlands).
  • If you configure Firefox to accept Google's cookie for the session only, and access Google via a different random open proxy each day, then they aren't even able to save that much information about you. The ten-results-per-page default is a bit of a bummer; but it's still nothing that can't be got around with a simple local proxyserver, in a few lines of Perl, just to send a sanitised version of the preferences cookie to Google {via the proxy-of-the-day of course}.
  • by hackstraw (262471) * on Monday February 06, 2006 @07:28AM (#14649695)
    Their customers are advertisers. Their product is you and me.

    However, Google's #1 philosophy is:

    Focus on the user and all else will follow. As witnessed here: http://www.google.com/corporate/tenthings.html [google.com]

    Google's product is searching for the user. Advertisers simply dump money to them because of the prime real estate as a byproduct.

  • by space_in_your_face (836916) on Monday February 06, 2006 @08:43AM (#14649906)
    If you search bmw deutschland [google.com], the third result is www.bmwfs.de, a redirection to bmw.de. Google didn't block this one...
  • Complaining (Score:2, Informative)

    by Madcowz (904786) on Monday February 06, 2006 @09:39AM (#14650114)
    Jeez. If you don't like it, use a different Search Engine. /Mad
  • Re:Oh... (Score:2, Informative)

    by dantheman82 (765429) on Monday February 06, 2006 @10:22AM (#14650357) Homepage
    >When people search for the term "miserable failure" they expect to see george
    >bush. For what other reason would anyone be searching up "misreable failure"?.
    >Google is providing the exact right response for what it's customers are
    >looking for when they search that combonation of terms.

    Perhaps, they might be using Google to check their spelling of "misreable failure" [google.com]. Or quite possibly using Google to find out that it is generally poor grammar to follow a question mark with a period at the end of a sentence. Or the poor wording of using "exact right response" rather than the somewhat better "exactly right response" or simply "exact response" or "right response". Or perhaps studying up on the grammatical differences between its and it's. Or, possibly, checking the spelling of combonation [google.com].
  • by windowpain (211052) on Monday February 06, 2006 @10:59AM (#14650576) Journal
    "Certified pre-owned" is not merely a euphemism for "used". In order to sell a car with that moniker the manufacturer requires the dealer to check the car against an extensive checklist of possible defects and problems and to correct them if necessary. As a result, the dealer can offer the car with a manufacturer-backed warranty.

    New car dealers generally sell used cars of various makes but can only offer "certified pre-owned" cars of the make the dealer sells new. So a Ford dealer may sell used Chevrolets, Saabs and Toyotas but the only "certified pre-owned" used cars it will sell will be Fords.
  • Re:The 'blogosphere (Score:2, Informative)

    by adric (91323) on Monday February 06, 2006 @11:22AM (#14650719)
    Likewise, my big wish is that they would delist any search results that point to eBay listings (which are usually way past their expiration date and no longer in eBay's database). If I want to look for something on eBay, I'll go to ebay.com and use their search feature.
    You can do this by adding "-site:ebay.com" to your search query.

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