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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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  • by DoraLives (622001) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @09:13PM (#14647867)
    perfidity that BMW was perpetrating, it also illustrates the large and growing power of google, a power that may not always be used for optimal "goodness."
  • You wanna elaborate on how this isn't "good"?

    They were spamming, they broke the rules google set, bammo, pagerank=0.
    They're still listed on Yahoo (and other search engines).

    If google nuked the pagerank of someone who isn't intentionally spamming, like slashdot, we'd all have a right to be screaming bloody murder. But this makes perfect sense.

  • by dsanfte (443781) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @09:18PM (#14647884) Journal
    It will be used for optimum profit. Ignoring the few aberrations, if you draw the line-of-best-fit for Google's actions over the next few years, you will find it fits the function of self-interest.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 05, 2006 @09:18PM (#14647886)
    So people who search for BMW won't be able to find the official BMW site? Somehow, that doesn't sound like a very good search engine.
  • SEO? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ploss (860589) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @09:21PM (#14647891)
    I'm wondering if BMW is actually at fault here, or if they were using a Search Engine Optimization company to try to boost their ranking, or at least employing the same techniques? Redirect pages to give different results based on whether its Google looking at your page or a user is certainly something that needs to be stopped, and drastic measures may be the only possible way to fix this problem (besides acquiring a huge range of IPs or having the Google Toolbar be more intrusive.)
  • Re:Politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 246o1 (914193) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @09:24PM (#14647897)
    So now searche engine listing has become Politics. No longer is it abouat organizing information, it's whether or not they want you listed. So if Google doesn't like you (alternate situtaion, not this one) they can remove you from what normal people think of as "on the internet"? Seems unfair to me, maybe they could have lowered it's rating, but remove it?
    Politics? No, Google is taking reasonable action protecting the value of their search engine, by disallowing page-rank abuse. The reason this is news is that BMW is a giant company, getting called on the kind of shit you expect from two-bit porn sites and the like. No one complains when they delist Tommy's Tits And Underage Bits for doing things like this, because it's reasonable behavior. It is, however, an occasion to look at the growing power of Google (and remember, perhaps, that such a large amount of power in the hands of one company can be dangerous, regardless of intent).
  • Correct (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RingDev (879105) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @09:32PM (#14647919) Homepage Journal
    Try googling for: "german BMW de"

    www.BMW.com comes up as #4 or so... kinda freaky.

    Makes you wonder if there will ever bea "common carrier" law for search engines.

    -Rick
  • Re:SEO? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @09:34PM (#14647929)
    I'm wondering if BMW is actually at fault here, or if they were using a Search Engine Optimization company

    What's the difference?
  • Re:Politics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dracocat (554744) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @09:37PM (#14647940)
    It is, however, an occasion to look at the growing power of Google (and remember, perhaps, that such a large amount of power in the hands of one company can be dangerous, regardless of intent).

    I don't think we have too much to worry about. The power Google has in this is because it is the most popular search engine. As soon as they start abusing the power and delisting major sites, then there will certainly be another search engine that will take its place. So it is in its best interest to behave well.

    The bottom line is that Google wants to be the best search engine it can be. It doesn't do that by not indexing mass amounts of companies. It also doesn't do it by alowing webmasters to get themselves at the top of the results just because of some tricks. So it must walk a fine line. In fact its best bet is to delist one or two high profile companies and make a big deal about it, so that it discourages other companies from following them.
  • by SIGBUS (8236) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @09:40PM (#14647949) Homepage
    Are they going to do something about the rips from Wikipedia that I often encounter when I run a Google search? There nothing like searching for something (usually fairly obscure), and coming up with (a) a Wikipedia article, and (b) the same Wikipedia article on a dozen other sites with domain names that don't have any fscking thing to do with Wikipedia.
  • Re:SEO? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Yst (936212) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @09:40PM (#14647950)
    I certainly hope they were using a Search Engine Optimization company. The better for it, if one of these dishonourable businesses makes news for being paid to boost a page rank and producing a page rank dropped to rock bottom instead.

    Punishing a large corporation whose webdesign group or whose design contractors were being clever might bring some crap down on a few webdesigners who were playing this dirty game for what it is, and justly enough, too, but bring down said crap on a company whose explicit purpose is to skew search results and that's a result I can genuinely be satisfied with.
  • by smitingpurpleemu (951712) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @09:52PM (#14647985)
    No one makes the argument because BMW is taking advantage of another company, Google, at Google's expense. BMW gains more hits on their web site b/c their PageRank is higher, and Google suffers because word of abuse like this reduces the quality of their searches and the repuration of their search engine. Therefore, to protect their own interests, Google shut down the offender. Both companies were working to maximize the profits of their shareholders, but one was trying to take an action counter to the other's interests, and so the other (Google) responded.
  • by JabberWokky (19442) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Sunday February 05, 2006 @09:53PM (#14647987) Homepage Journal
    The order is still automated. The site has been delisted due to abuse.

    If I randomly list four restaurants, they are random. Not choosing to include a fifth on the list doesn't make the list order non-random. It just means that restaurant #5 isn't on the list. Non-inclusion isn't changing order or content; it is defining what is in the database to be searched.

    This is about abuse control and removing invalid sites, not reordering valid sites that conform to their pagerank guidelines. They say "Alternately, your page may have been manually removed from our index if it didn't conform with the quality standards necessary to assign accurate PageRank".

    Google's Guidelines [google.com]

    --
    Evan

  • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @09:56PM (#14647993)
    Actually, from what I understand, they weren't spamming at all. What they were doing was using 'doorway' pages, which serve up different content to the googlebot than to human visitors. My understanding is that bmw's DE site wasn't very search engine friendly, and so they used doorway pages to "optimize" their results.

    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.

    This brings up some thorny issues in my mind. Google is now dictating the way we must design our sites if we want to even hope to get a decent google rank. In effect, google is dictating the terms upon which the entire web must operate, or get a 'death penalty', either because your site doesn't match what google is looking for (and thus gets a low rank) or because you gave google what they were looking for, but it violated their terms of service.

    This seems inherantly "evil" to me.
  • Re:Politics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by afaik_ianal (918433) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @09:56PM (#14647997)
    No longer is it about organizing information, it's whether or not they want you listed.

    Their track record says otherwise. In 2004, they came under fire for not removing an anti-semitic website [sethf.com], jewwatch.com, which was coming up as the first hit when searching for "jew". Even today, it is second only to Wikipedia.

    Their argument at the time was that they were not going to block sites from their index based on content. According to that site that I linked, it was blocked in countries where the content of the site was illegal.

    It looks to me like they will not block based on (legal) content, but will block people who fsck with PageRanks.

  • Re:Deception (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ockegheim (808089) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @09:57PM (#14648000)
    I really like Google, their philosophy, and their ethics.

    Yes, its original philosophies seem to have survived the company's huge expansion mostly intact. Which means we should be able to trust Google at least in the short-mid term future.

  • by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:01PM (#14648018) Homepage
    The poor people that can't figure out that the BMW web site is www.bmw.com. To be honest if they can't figure that one out, then they can't be bright enough to afford a new BMW (can you guess the ones for Holden and Ford).

    For more obscure sites, this is a harsher punishment, for major corporations who base web wite is obvious, it doesn't really make much of a difference (the children at BMW in this case deserved to have their hands smacked, it was after all a pretty silly and pointless thing for them to do).

    In many ways a perfect example of Google's publicy declared control system working in practice and just a bit of a warning to smaller companies where this kind of behaviour would have a significant affect. Google preserving the rights of the many for a quality search service against the greed of a few, in my book that fits pretty well with "do no evil".

  • by Have Blue (616) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:02PM (#14648021) Homepage
    How do you know that Google will always do this for reasons you agree with? Remember the flap over Google cooperating with China's censorship?
  • by tonyr60 (32153) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:03PM (#14648024)
    "This brings up some thorny issues in my mind. Google is now dictating the way we must design our sites if we want to even hope to get a decent google rank."

    Bollocks. If you design your web site in such a way to properly and openly reflect your business or whatever, no problems. If you attempt to defraud or otherwise screw search engine results then google (and hopefully other search engines) has every right to get shitty. From a consumer perspective I want my google results to best reflect what I am looking for. If google has to delist fraudulent web sites to improve my search results, then they are just doing a good job.
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:06PM (#14648030) Journal
    In no way is Google telling you how to design your web site. What they are saying is that they have a requirement of what google will index. They want to know that the pages that are indexed by them are what the site will show you. IOW, Google is saying that they want to be fair to their customers (you and me). This is part of their clause (do not be evil). But some sites are run by idiots and will look at how they can cheat the search engines. They want high rankings in some areas, without really having it. That is what porn sites do. They try to have links to themselves for things such as Linux, Microsoft, etc, but the site has NOTHING to do with these. That is cheating, and that is what BWM was doing.
     
    Evil? Off hand, I would say that Google is STILL the top
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:06PM (#14648032) Homepage

    What I don't understand is why Google is going out of their way to punish BMW for using SEO strategies to up their pagerank

    Because it's a deliberate attempt to deceive the search engine. That's bad for any end user doing a search as it gives them wrong results. Why is that hard to understand?

    instead of chasing all the other junk (porn, pharmaceuticals, etc. websites that do the same with far more malicious intent.

    I'm not sure what you're saying. Do you want google to eliminate searches for pharmaceuticals and porn? Or do you believe Google isn't stopping people who do inappropriate SEO techniques for drugs and porn?

    And on the off chance that Google is trying to 'make an example' by punishing a big company like BMW, someone there needs to be hit with the clue hammer; no disrespectable SEO slinger is going to pay attention to that sort of thing.

    Are you kidding? Being delisted by Google is a Big Deal. The rogue SEO companies won't go away right away, but eventually everyone will hear about getting delisted from Google for doing this garbage and the rogue SEO companies will all but disapear. If you seriously think that BMW.de being delisted by google won't make BMW change their deceptive website, I think it's you that needs to be hit with a "clue hammer".
  • by Donniedarkness (895066) <Donniedarkness AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:07PM (#14648036) Homepage
    Do you really trust real people to be "grading" content?

    ...epecially if they are KNOWN employees of Google (they'd be kinda easy to pay off, no?).

  • by pcgamez (40751) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:09PM (#14648044)
    In a word, bull.

    A company of that size does not NEED to use black hat techniques. Google's algorythms are good enough that a company of that size is almost always the top search (the only time I have not seen that is when there were two large companies with similar names). Using these techniques make it easier, but they are not needed.

    Also note, it does set an example. They are not going after *just* bmw.de.
  • by GoofyBoy (44399) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:13PM (#14648057) Journal
    >Google is now dictating the way we must design our sites if we want to even hope to get a decent google rank.

    You know its "Google rank" as in Google determines the ranking of the page.

    >In effect, google is dictating the terms upon which the entire web must operate

    Its the users who still determine how the web operates. "We" determined Google is a good search engine and use it. Its quite easy to stop using Google if it starts giving bad information. "I'm looking for BMW in Germany, but Google sucks for that, I'm moving on to another search engine." Before Google there was another most popular search engine (Yahoo? Alta Vista? some Inktomi based site?) and it could easily change again.

    I'm all for bashing Google, but its Google's ranking, its their choice.
  • Re:SEO? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by TallGuyRacer (920071) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:14PM (#14648064) Homepage
    What's the difference?
    Exactly. Sony itself didn't actually create their 'root kit', but they put it on their CDs so they are responsible for it. In the same vein, I've always thought that people are a wasting their time trying to persecute spammers. They should go after the companys that hire the spammers in the first place.
  • by RossumsChild (941873) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:15PM (#14648066)
    Google isn't the only search engine. If you'd rather use a search engine that turns a blind eye to abuse and constantly have your results filled with false positives, be my guest.

    I for one hope all the search engines take aggressive steps to curb and suppress the effectiveness of artificial hacks to improve results. If spamming isn't rewarding for the companies, maybe they'll learn to spend their resources on improving things like page readability, content and functionality instead.
  • "SEO" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by typical (886006) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:15PM (#14648069) Journal
    Why do people even bother to call it "SEO" instead of "spam"?
  • by Crazyscottie (947072) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:16PM (#14648077)
    In effect, google is dictating the terms upon which the entire web must operate...

    I disagree. Does Google dominate the search market? Yes. However, I don't recall them ever using anti-competitive techniques to get there, unlike a certain Redmond-based corporation that we all love to hate. The difference here is that Google is at the top because customers like their services, not because the competition was intentionally squashed. I agree that Google needs to use a lot more discretion in the way it operates certain aspects, but I think claiming that the company is "dictating the terms upon which the entire web must operate" is a bit over the top.
  • change (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dotpavan (829804) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:18PM (#14648084) Homepage
    OMG! Thanks to /.. everybody here tried googling for "BMW germany", and then not satisfied, went to bmw.de, and now the pagerank is back to where it was a week back!
  • by JanneM (7445) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:20PM (#14648094) Homepage
    Google is now dictating the way we must design our sites if we want to even hope to get a decent google rank.

    Um, duh.

    If you want to be indexed well, you have to make the site friendly to indexers. You are _always_ limited in your design by the pesky, inconvenient issue of people (and search engines) actually wanting access to your content. You're free to make a site that is difficult to navigate, or that search engine bots can't get easy access to, but don't go bitching about your lousy pagerank, low visit count or high user dissatisfaction afterwards.

  • by typical (886006) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:25PM (#14648121) Journal
    This brings up some thorny issues in my mind. Google is now dictating the way we must design our sites if we want to even hope to get a decent google rank.

    And this differs from any other search engine index since the dawn of time how? Any search engine uses some kind of ranking algorithm. It used to be that stuffing keywords in page titles affected it. That was a bad idea.

    Google, like any other search engine has a primary customer to keep happy: me. I use their search engine to find useful data. Google does a much better job at solving *my* problems than any of their competitors. Great. I don't care even a little tiny bit about whether or not BMW is irritated about the fact that they hired some slimy SEO bastards and got smacked for it. Google is continuing to deliver useful content to *me*. If Google does a bad job of that, I'll use another search engine...but you know what? Google is still lightyears ahead of the competition. They *still* have a lighter-weight interface than the competition (which apparently still hasn't figured out that portals are not a replacement for search engines). They still do a good job of getting useful data, despite being the Big Dog that all the search engine spammers are gunning for.

    More power to Google -- for making *my* life better.
  • by aussie_a (778472) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:32PM (#14648146) Journal
    I wish users of Google would stop to punish Google for aiding in the unethical behaviour of censoring the Chinese people's access to the internet.
  • by aiken_d (127097) <brooks AT tangentry DOT com> on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:34PM (#14648160) Homepage
    Bonus points for sounding well educated, but I hope you realize that you've basically discovered the principle that companies strive to improve profits. Anything less would be bizarre.

    Google has achieved its remarkable success by focusing on customer satisfaction and the end user experience. The whole reason they are so powerful is because the average joe trusts them to do a lot of filtering and ranking so as to provide valuable search results.

    That's a very simple point, and I didn't use any fancy "functions of self interest," but a lot of people seem to have a hard time understanding it. This situation is similar to the hypothetical case where Roger Ebert stops reviewing movies from, say, MGM, because they start providing him with different versions of the movies than they actually release. In that case, he'd have every right to say "because I can't accurately review the content which is delivered to my audience, I won't review it at all."

    Google is a company (wow!). They want to achieve profits and shareholder value (oh no!). So far, they have accomplished those by offering a customer experience that is superior to their competitors, thereby gaining more eyeballs and ad revenue. This bit of news is exactly in line with what they've always done, albeit more high profile, and seems to indicate that they value the quality of their DB above, say, ad revenue from a gigantic company (should BMW choose to boycott ads).

    I found your "discovery" that "over the next few years" Google will have self-interest as a priority, and the implied derision baseless. Can you elaborate on why that's a bad or surprising thing? What, exactly, do they owe you that you think they won't deliver?

    Cheers
    -b
  • by typical (886006) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:37PM (#14648167) Journal
    That's like if Microsoft decided to cut off sales of Windows SDKs to an application software vendor who it decided didn't play by the rules... but of course, they're free to develop desktop applications for other operating systems.

    I'm amazed by the hordes of people who like Google-bashing. Nope. Microsoft has constructed a high barrier to entry in their market. You have to overcome application compatibility, user retraining, and lack of Microsoft applications (which means your business documents aren't necessarily compatible).

    Google is a search engine. Going to Google is going to a website. If they get even slightly less good than someone else, users can easily go elsewhere -- as evidenced by how quickly Google took over from Yahoo and Altavista.

    Google isn't shafting users here. They are working to provide incentive *not* to hire search engine spammers and keep information useful. If the alternative is letting me get shafted by search engine spammers, Google is doing the right thing.

    If they provide a clear set of rules, spammers will work up to the very edge of them. If they simply let people know that severe, repeated abuse will result in a penalization in their own database, they reduce spam in their database. I'm all for this move.
  • by raoul666 (870362) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <skcor.ip>> on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:43PM (#14648196)
    Google purports to find information on the web. They aren't a directory where you have to pay to be listed. It doesn't matter that they offer their service for free. If they post misleading information or omit information that people should expect to be there, they could be in trouble.

    You said it yourself: google isn't a directory service. Nobody pays to be included. Google can exclude a site for a number of reasons, which are all easily accessible on their site. Is says specifically that websites which do not adhere to the rules may be removed from the index.

    When you search for something innoculous and get porn back, or one of those useless link farms, it is because of techniques like this. Maybe BMW was using them for good purposes, maybe not. Tough luck. They did something wrong, their pagerank was set to zero, as it should be. It's what I'd want to see happen to the porn and the link farms, it's what I'd want to see happen to anyone else who tried the same low, deceptive tricks.
  • Re:SEO? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drew (2081) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:59PM (#14648239) Homepage
    I still don't see a difference. If they hired an SEO 'professional' to improve their ranking, then regardless of what he told them of industry practices, I'd say that they are just as guilty as if they did it themselves.
  • by cecom (698048) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:03PM (#14648251) Homepage Journal

    Oh, I completely agree with that - what BMW did was, as you put it, "dodgy", not to mention unbecoming for such a high-profile company. Google's actions might very well be the best thing that could be done under these circumstances - the punishment is a bit harsh, but BMW on the other hand is not just some company, so the idea is they will fix their pages, Google will promptly restore BMW's pagerank and everybody will have learned a lesson.

    What worries is me is a bit more general though:

    • After Google's intervention I can't find the site with completely legitimate searches that have nothing to do with used cars. BMW exists, it is located in Germany, they have a website. They might be a terrible company, their website ugly, cars unreliable (ain' that one true! :-) but all a search engine has to do is help me find them, not pass judgement.
    • It is a precedent. Imagine for example giving the police the right to arrest anybody they deem necessary and trust them to make correct judgement every time because they are good guys after all - I mean they are not just going to start arresting people at random, right ? If there is a power to be abused, it probably will be, sooner or later ...
  • by Lehk228 (705449) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:11PM (#14648280) Journal
    running a second spider would just create an arms race between those trying to find the google bot and google. it would also create suspicious looking behavior from a seemingly anonymous source. also if the stealth bot follows the google robots.txt it owuld be trivial to find, if it does not people with bitch to high heaven that google is ignoring robots.txt
  • by Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:15PM (#14648286) Homepage

    Google is saying that they want to be fair to their customers (you and me).

    Their customers are advertisers. Their product is you and me.

  • Re:.de ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mjbkinx (800231) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:21PM (#14648302)
    Wouldn't people (apart from Germans, or those that speak German) go to bmw.com anyway?

    You do realise BMW is a German company and selling a quarter of their cars at home, don't you?
    www.bmw.com is a portal, with links to invertor relations and so on. You can get to the country sites from there, and the international site happens to be available in German, but generally, using your local country domain directly will take you to a consumer site, in your langue, with localised pricing. Consumers usually expect a big company to have a local version of their site.
    Anyway, this is about search results, not the location bar. Linked sites on bmw.de will simply not show up.

  • by iphayd (170761) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:25PM (#14648327) Homepage Journal
    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.

    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.
  • Re:SEO? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by typical (886006) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:28PM (#14648342) Journal
    I've heard the same excuse used to justify the use of email spam. It doesn't hold water. "Oh, we didn't know about *that*! Gosh, our silly little marketing contractors are just running amuck! Well, trust us -- they're the bad eggs, and *we* are the good guys!"
  • by Scarletdown (886459) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:59PM (#14648478) Journal
    I kind of wish they would delist the whole 'blogosphere too, or at least allow us to set an option to not show 'blogs in our searches.


    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.

  • by typical (886006) on Monday February 06, 2006 @12:02AM (#14648492) Journal
    His original point is still valid. I am Google's user. Google is looking out for my interests. I don't care whether BMW gets screwed over in the process, and I'd *enjoy* seeing search engine spammers getting screwed over.

    Google is thus continuing to make *my* life good. Which is why they remain the most used search engine.

    Despite a long time of watching Google with a wary eye, the only honestly bad thing about Google that I can think of is that they retain personally identifying search profile information beyond 30 days (whereas search.aol.com [aol.com] doesn't, and that only came up very recently).
  • by modecx (130548) on Monday February 06, 2006 @12:14AM (#14648553)
    Actually, this search [google.de] reveals that bmw.de is not listed on Google, period, and that's definitely BMW's official site for Germany... Of course, they haven't de-listed bmw.com, which does link to their German language site.

    I see absolutely no reason to blame Google in this instance. Redirecting certain users based on the client they are using to different content is directly against the spirit of the 'net... Redirecting to different data based on the users' client can be good for only a couple of things: 1) joke sites that tell IE users to switch to some other browser 2) intelligent redirecting to a page with mostly the same content, but formatted to be friendly to portable devices.

    Pagerank whoring aside, I still think BMW's web designer was in the wrong--as if there could be any confusion about bmw.de in the first place, I'm sure there's a half bazillion German websites linking to that site, putting it at place #1 by default. I guess that it's just a matter of Google breaking their foot off in BMW's ass for being stupid.
  • by Naruki (601680) on Monday February 06, 2006 @12:23AM (#14648598)
    Google is not forcing you to do anything. They ARE giving you advice on how to get the best search results, and they ARE willing to punish violators whose shitty tactics reduce the value that Google provides, thus harming Google's reputation. That's a good thing.

    You are saying you should be allowed to abuse Google's site just to beat out your competition that doesn't abuse Google's site. That's bull.

    Actually, you seem to be arguing as though you are a victim when you really may not be. The pages that you put up For Google's Eyes Only contain the same content that actual readers will see, right? If so, then it doesn't sound like Google would have a problem with your site.

    But if you are trying to lure Linux users to your banana factory site, then you are a vile scum-sucking piece of recycled dog-vomit that needs to be blacklisted, not just de-listed.

    Not that there's anything wrong with bananas, mind you. It's the deception that hurts.
  • by smash (1351) on Monday February 06, 2006 @12:40AM (#14648673) Homepage Journal
    Haha... call.

    You can get around this by, instead of spamming keywords... making a version of the site that does not require flash to get any content (shock horror).

    If there's a non-flash version, google will index that, AND you won't be pissing off 99.5% of visitors who hate flash-only sites (ie, everyone bar the company's management-types, and the web developer him/herself).

    smash.

  • by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Monday February 06, 2006 @12:42AM (#14648680)

    That's precisely my point. Google is dictating how you must design your site.

    No they aren't. They are setting rules for how your site is ranked by their site. Violate the rules and your only penalty is a reset pagerank.

    No, you don't have to follow their standards, but if you don't, you get a low page rank and your competitor, who DOES follow googles rules gets ranked above you.

    Such is life. google hasn't got any obligation to make bmw's life easy.

    It was simply a case of their site not being search engine friendly, and trying to improve their rank because they didn't design their site in such a way as to comply with googles commandments.

    So they tweaked their site to improve their pagerank artifically? Sounds like a cut and dried case of google-bombing. If they actually improved their site design, none of this would have happened.

  • by thej1nx (763573) on Monday February 06, 2006 @12:47AM (#14648714)
    because they didn't design their site in such a way as to comply with googles commandments.

    biased much ? google is not telling you what colours to use on your website. They are not telling you what content you can or cannot put. However, they have simply chosen to act against you if you spam their engine and try and make it give twisted results. Next you will be arguing that spam-filters *force* you to design your e-mails in a particular way ? Which part of "DO NOT SPAM" are you unable to understand ?

  • by Buzz_Litebeer (539463) on Monday February 06, 2006 @12:56AM (#14648755) Journal
    Amen,

    His argument is like saying the latest spam mail that got pasted my filter and my spot subject line check had to be designed that way so that it could get to the user.

    It takes the position that the user WANTS to be marketed too, and that ANY method at all to have them be markted to by you is legitimate.

    Well, if the user wouldnt want to be markted to you under "honest" conditions, then you shouldnt essentially attempt to get around those conditions.

    This is the same with google, google is in the business of providing ME and other users like me with the BEST search results. If that means that under regular best practices you wouldnt even get in the top level, it isnt UP TO YOU AS A COMPANY to "help" the user find you by getting past the methods the user has in place to protect themselves. google is my tool of choice to protect myself from bad search results, and I want it to stay a usefull tool for that.

    I dont want to go back to the old days were you could type "cartoon" and get search sites in the first 100 results all saying "cant find entry for cartoon, but you can try to buy cartoon at ebay using our referrer id" bullcrap.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 06, 2006 @01:18AM (#14648824)
    "His original point is still valid. I am Google's user. Google is looking out for my interests. I don't care whether BMW gets screwed over in the process, and I'd *enjoy* seeing search engine spammers getting screwed over."

    You are ONE of Google's users. Google is not looking out for your interest but THEIR interest. This is 800lb gorilla tactics. They're doing this in lieu of correcting their algorithms, their tactics, to save them time and money from implementing such measures, etc.

    A company's results getting screwed over isn't in the best interest of *users*. What would be is correcting over-inflated page rankings to unaffected spam rankings. That would be playing nice; that would be playing fair; that would be representing the information accurately. Thing is Google won't or can't.

    But as you say, you don't care if BMW or the like gets screwed over, even if that means screwing over accurate results the other way--to nothing. There is a difference between correction of information and a vendetta against all who play the system. I do not agree much with what BMW does, but I also do not agree with Google's actions as being anywhere "in the best interest of the user."
  • by Novice_Baiter (951135) on Monday February 06, 2006 @01:49AM (#14648949) Journal
    BMW spends millions designing, developing, maunfacturing, producing, and marketing a very good product. They throw in some scripts on their web site that Google thinks is naughty. So, I would guess, also, BMW does not spend a lot of money advertising on Google?
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday February 06, 2006 @02:49AM (#14649131) Journal
    This is a bad comparision.

    MS has an monopoly aquired illegally and maintained via illegal methods. They strongarmed (more likely strongarm, i.e. NOT past tense) theur customers to do what they want. Most importantly, they punish those that support any competitors by charging them FULL price and telling others to not deal with them (i.e. businesses have suddenly had to pay full price followed by CompUSA no longer carrying them with compusa quietly telling them that MS insists that they no longer carry the blacklisted company).

    Currently, Google has a monopoly, but it was aquired naturally (so far, I have not heard anybody saying that it was aquired in illegal methods), and is held via legal methods. In no ways has Google attempted to prevent any site from making their product palatable to MSN, AOL, Yahoo, or even any start-ups (which is where Google's real threat lies). Google has been upfront on the rules and they are simple; No deciption. If you want flash, well, google does not care. But they do not parse flash well. If you want PDF, well, they do so-so at that as well. Afterall, Google is a WEB search engine. Google is upfront with how they will operate and so far, I have not heard anybody say that they are being unfair.

    In fact, until MS declared them public enemy number one, Google was liked by everyone. Now, I see ppl bitching that Google has too much power and looks for ways to stop them via none competition. I have no doubt that MS is trying like heck to get congress to do the job that they are unable to do; bring down Google.

  • not fraud (Score:3, Insightful)

    by idlake (850372) on Monday February 06, 2006 @02:51AM (#14649137)
    One can argue that BMW's behavior was improper and that Google's reaction was justified. But claiming that displaying different content to different classes of users (crawler, real-life person) constitutes "fraud" is going over the top.

    No, it is NOT fraud to display different kinds of content to different site visitors, and I hope it never will be. And if it were fraud, it would be a matter for the police, not Google's page rank algorithm.
  • by idlake (850372) on Monday February 06, 2006 @02:53AM (#14649146)
    That's like if Microsoft decided to cut off sales of Windows SDKs to an application software vendor who it decided didn't play by the rules... but of course, they're free to develop desktop applications for other operating systems.

    You mean like they effectively do with driver signing and co-branding?
  • by Lendrick (314723) on Monday February 06, 2006 @03:45AM (#14649279) Homepage Journal
    Maybe it would help if you think of it as a slight addition to the pagerank algorithm.

    if(content_shown_to_google != content_shown_to_user) pagerank = 0;
  • A) Their algorithm is likely as fair as they can make it.
    B) Then don't think of it as punishment. Think of it as sites making themselves unrankable by trying to game the algorithm.
    C) Competition is good, bring it on. Oh, and don't forget to thank Microsoft for trying to strangle the entire technology industry, lord knows there'd be loads of competition everywhere, if they weren't using illegal tactics to try and squash it at every turn.
  • I'm talking about sites having to conform to google's whims in order to appear anywhere near the top of a google search. I'm talking about legitimate sites, not even sites selling anything. Sites that simply choose to design their sites in one way or another can have their google rank turned to crap.

    The 'whims' of Google's that you're complaining about are just common sense. Google says, make your page clear and informative. If your page is clear and informative, guess what? Google ranks it higher. If your page is clear and informative and has something interesting to say, other people will find it interesting and link to it. If other people link to it, guess what? Google ranks it higher. Google says, don't change your URLs too often. That's common sense, too. If you ceaselessly redesign your site, leaving old URLs dangling as 404 errors, you're hurting people who link to you, and you're hurting people who've bookmarked you. That's common sense, too. All my bookmarks to my bank's site no longer work, because every time they do a redesign they change their URLs, and leave the old ones dangling. Sooner or later, that's going to annoy me enough to make me change banks.

    If you do a Google search for 'Simon Brooke [google.co.uk]', you'll find me at the top although my home page is just that, a personal home page, and has no 'optimisation'. Simon Brooke [simonbrooke.com] the Insurance Broker, with an expensive, professionally designed site, comes second. Then there's Simon Brooke [imdb.com] the professional actor on IMDB, then a guy who's into aeroplanes, then Simon Brooke [simonsays.com] the author.

    So with all those people with something to sell in the list, how come I and the aeroplane geek make the first page? My site is simple and has been there a long time (more than ten years now, and on the same URL for eight). In that time a lot of people have linked to it, and it doesn't suffer link rot. The plane geek's page gets ranked well because he has good pictures which presumably get linked to.

    And that's the lesson for all you soi disant web designers [simonsays.com] out there. Users aren't impressed with your fancy, flash 'splash pages', and guess what? Google isn't either. Users aren't impressed with text as graphics, and guess what? Google isn't either. Users aren't impressed with vacuous marketing puff, and guess what? Google isn't either.

    If you've got something interesting and different to say, and you say it clearly, and you say it consistently in the same place, Google will find you. Tricks and cheats aren't needed.

  • Now, if I want to design my site in such a way as to be friendly to my users (say, a flash based site... please, no comments about how friendly flash is.. lots of usres like it), but not friendly to google, why should a competitor with a crappier site get a higher rank?

    Because they used open standards and you used proprietary crap? If you want to be accessible to users, follow the standards. If you don't give a shit about your users but just want to show off what a clever web designer [userfriendly.org] you are, don't complain of Google doesn't give a shit about you.

  • Re:not fraud (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robertNO@SPAMchromablue.net> on Monday February 06, 2006 @05:54AM (#14649595)
    Err, in a word: bullshit.

    They've done /nothing/ to deceive customers. The example above was that it contained the word "new cars" 40 times, or whatever.

    You're smoking crack. I'm a car dealer. Yelling "NEW CARS!" is okay, but "NEW CARS! NEW CARS!". What was deceptive, even remotely about what they did?

    It broke Google's fucking algorithm. The day weaknesses like this become crime is a day people leave the net in droves.

  • Re:Deception (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hackstraw (262471) * on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:22AM (#14649675)
    i would say that the bmw cars in germany have a status of (at least for the 3-series) a chav car. the higher class models still are percepted as cars driven by some arrogant assholes.

    In the US, the 3-series are bought by those that want to be arrogant assholes, but cannot afford the good models.

  • by db32 (862117) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:23AM (#14649682) Journal
    Google is a company. As a website owner they will help people find your site for free so you can do business IF you follow there terms. As a web user they help you find the sites that are making use of their free indexing service and following the rules. Search engines are by no means required to list ANY page, and while I certainly wouldn't agree with a search engine that delists on more sheisty terms (for example, delisting Microsoft.com because they are linux users) it is still their right to do that. It's not like BMW is losing a service they paid for, they are losing a free service they abused. So now, BMW of Germany is forced to clean up their act, or move on to traditional marketing to get people to their site, boo freakin hoo. Access to a search engine isn't a right for anyone, its a privlidge.
  • What I did say was that google has an imperfect algorithm, and along with punishment for trying to get around that imperfect algorithm, creates a situation where they dictate the rules, and the punishment for not following them.

    Alternatively, consider the rules and the punishment to be part of that algorithm. Just because they aren't handled automatically doesn't make them any less relevent as part of the algorithm.

    It's this "follow our rules or be punished" attitude that's disturbing.

    It's no different to any other advertising medium.

    Want to advertise on billboards? The billboard owner and the ASA dictate the sort of content you're allowed to put up. If you piss off the public then it's also likely to come back to bite you in the arse when they complain to either.

    In both these cases the rules are good for the consumer - they punish you for putting up misleading or offensive content.
  • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Monday February 06, 2006 @08:12AM (#14649996)
    But you don't think it's dangerous that a site that has a de-facto monopoly on searches is doing this?

    Look at it this way. BMW felt that Google was putting them too low on the search list. So they make a page to 'fix' this. Then Google de lists them.

    If Google was one of many equally popular search engines, I'd say that they were within their rights to do this. But they aren't. People use 'Google' as a verb, i.e. just f**king Google it. Most of the world uses them as their only search engine. So if I have a site, and I'm way down on the list, I'll try to fix it. Now I could use a different search engine of course, and even lobby other people to do the same. But my customers will still be using Google.

    Actually, I do some work on a site [demon.co.uk] with an open source FAT32 formatter. It's pretty popular, I get a 2-3 emails a day with people that have downloaded it, and all of them are satisfied. Now this site is way down on the list with any reasonable search terms, unless you know the name of the company. I actually emailed them, and got a reply IIRC about buying advertising. My solution was to email people who are high up on the pagerank and get them to link to me. And link to it from here, tight bastard that I am ;-)

    So suddenly you have a de facto monopoly, and thus pagerank is valuable enough that they can charge for it, and punish people for trying to exploit it. That doesn't sit too well with me. Whatever you think of the people that run Google, in the end it is a business and one that has carved out a rather novel monopoly. And history shows that businesses have a tendency to exploit that in a way that is in their interests, even when their interests diverge from most people's.

    The interesting thing is that in America at least, the law says that there are things like tying agreements that are legal unless you are a monopoly (or abusive monopoly, I forget the wording). So Microsoft could insist that you used Internet Explorer with Windows and not break the law, right up to the lawsuit that declared them to be a monopoly at which point it became illegal. But for Google, I don't think there is any legal restraint on them. They could of course claim that they are a not a monopoly, on the grounds that mind share is not market share, and people are still free to use yahoo or altavista. And asking for money to improve pagerank, or delisting people that try to exploit it would probably still be legal even if their competitors managed to get a Microsoft style judgement against them.

    You have to remember Adam Smith's quote: [adamsmith.org]

    "People of the same trade seldom meet together," he wrote, without concocting "a conspiracy against the public."

    I.e. that businesses have zero qualms about creating and abusing monopoly power. It's not about Bill Gates being a bad person, or the Google guys being good ones. It's something that businesses do, if they want to succeed and keep the shareholders happy. And in the Google case, it's a new sort of monopoly, one that won't be restrained by the laws that affected Microsoft, not that those proved particularly effective in any case.
  • Re:not fraud (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Irish_Samurai (224931) on Monday February 06, 2006 @09:13AM (#14650297)
    It may not be fraud, but it is against Googles terms of service. They broke the rules, they get delisted. Its a company, they can do what they want with their listings. The point isn't the different content per users, but showing different content to a spider as related to everyone else.

    May I also point out that /.ers will scream their heads off at SEO because they can't separate legitimate techniques from unethical ones. Now that a big company has gotten busted for unethical behavior, and yeah - content redirects for spiders only is unethical, people are screaming that Google is doing evil.

    People, make up your minds. You may not like what Google is doing, but they are a company - and listing with them is not a right. They have a well defined list of behaviors they wish your site not to exhibit, and the consequences of such behavior is stated. You break the rules, you pay. Your business suffers because of it? You should have followed the rules.

    I cannot tell you how many times I have had to UNDO some previous SEO asshats work. There is a way to get the rankings you desire, focused traffic, stay on the search engines good side, and not corrupt unrelated search term rankings.
  • by iocat (572367) on Monday February 06, 2006 @10:46AM (#14650894) Homepage Journal
    Did you read the dude's blog? He comes off like a total power-tripping asshat; the exact type who'd invent a reason to delist any company he didn't like.

    Google is getting progressively more invasive and irritating. It's already rolled over to China -- how long before other countries Google is sucking up to can just demand that certain sites be permanently delinked?

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