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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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:14PM (#14647872)
    The original weblog article [mattcutts.com].
    When a search engine visited a page like www.bmw.de/bmw-neuwagen.html, it would see a page like this: [image of page with lots and lots of keywords]
  • The 'blogosphere (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Andrew Tanenbaum (896883) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:16PM (#14647878)
    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. I mean, pagerank abuse is rampant on 'blogs (example)( [google.com].
  • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:30PM (#14647912) Homepage
    I'm kind of interested in which "domestic car maker" he's talking about here:

    Finally, as long as we're on the subject of cars: to the domestic car maker whose European domain had hidden text on the front: your 30 day removal was set to expire in two days, but the hidden text has been taken off the page, so I'm scheduling the domain for reinclusion now.

  • Deception (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hackstraw (262471) * on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:33PM (#14647925)
    I really like Google, their philosophy, and their ethics.

    I really and truly dislike deception. Its very common, especially when money is involved for some reason.

    To me, I look at "work" simply. Work is getting paid for doing things for people that they appreciate. The more unique or the more quality or quantity of things that you bring to people, the more money you will get.

    Much of advertising is deceptive. 99.999% of SPAM is completely deceptive. And personally, it really irritates me. Don't get me started about the snail mail I get with things like "Check enclosed". Grrrr.

    At least here in the US, BMW is a very desired car. Many consider it a status symbol. Their slogan here is "The Ultimate Driving Machine". I don't know what their status is in Germany.

    Good for Google, bad for BMW. TFA says that Ricoh might be next for delisting. One thing I wish Google would do is get Froogle out of beta, and separate the search results for buying things and having information about things. Believe it or not, when I do a search for a digital camera or some other product, I may want to learn something about the product before I buy it. And yes, I do use Google for searching for something to buy. I've found $2-3 parts to fix things that I simply could not have found at a local store.

  • by Leebert (1694) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:35PM (#14647932)
    How do they reconcile this with their FAQ [google.com] which states:

    "The order and contents of Google search results are completely automated. No one hand picks a particular result for a given search query, nor does Google ever insert jokes or send messages by changing the order of results."
  • by johnthorensen (539527) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:41PM (#14647955)
    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 instead of chasing all the other junk (porn, pharmaceuticals, etc. websites that do the same with far more malicious intent. In fact, it could almost be said that legitimate companies such as BMW *have* to engage in this type of behavior just to keep themselves above the noise.

    I'd really rather that Google spend some time tuning their engine to eliminate all the trash it's accumulated rather than making big headlines punishing organizations that are relatively decent Internet citizens. 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.
  • Re:The 'blogosphere (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Skippy_kangaroo (850507) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:50PM (#14647979)
    The ultimate goal of google is to show you whatever it is you want to see. When searching for simply the word "failure", that page is what people are expecting to see now and searching for. Why should google artificially alter that?

    Because with googlebombing what Google is showing you is what a small number of motivated people want you to see, not what you want to see. The fact that people involved in a googlebomb want to see something does not make it what the majority of people want to see. And making it circular by saying that people now expect to see the results of a succesful googlebomb when they search for failure is just sophistry.

    But [google.com.au] really [google.com.au], do [google.com.au] you [google.com.au] expect [google.com.au] to [google.com.au] get [google.com.au] anything [google.com.au] meaningful [google.com.au] out [google.com.au] of [google.com.au] a [google.com.au] search [google.com.au] on [google.com.au] single [google.com.au] semi-random [google.com.au] words [google.com.au] on [google.com.au] Google [google.com.au]?
  • Re:Deception (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Angst Badger (8636) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:58PM (#14648006)
    The more unique or the more quality or quantity of things that you bring to people, the more money you will get.

    This is quite simply not true, and even a cursory examination of the products on the shelves of your local grocery or department store will disabuse you of this utopian notion pretty quickly. Price and quality are important, but it is arguable whether they are the most important factors in the success of a product, and quality is largely subjective anyway.

    Marketing is the manipulation of perceptions, and that is what really drives sales. Wal-Mart offers neither the best quality nor the lowest prices, for example, but they have successfully convinced a very large number of people that they do, and that's as good as the real thing. There are a lot of market forces at work in the success or failure of a product, and it is often the case that the best products and the hardest-working people fail miserably.

    Mind you, I don't think this is the way it should be, but absent some really far-reaching regulation, that's just the way it is in a free market, and it's why there are degrees in things like business and marketing. And yes, virtually all of the other factors amount to unscrupulous behavior to one degree or another. If you'd like that to change, the first step lies in recognizing the market as it actually is.
  • Bad move (Score:1, Interesting)

    by davidwr (791652) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:04PM (#14648028) Homepage Journal
    I just tried looking up stuff from bmw.de. I got nada from Google.

    Bad move Google.

    Better move:

    In "advanced search" have several options for "cheating" web sites:
    1a) mark with black flag, useful to help boycotters
    1b) do not mark
    2a) filter out
    2b) move to bottom of ranking
    2c) filter out all but - very useful for boycotters
    2d) do not adjust rankings

    The default should be either 1a with 2b.

    In the future, further refine the searches by types of evil - if I want to find every web site engaging in a certain type of cheating, Google should make it easy to do so.

    Google's new motto should be:
    "We don't do evil, but we do help you find it."
  • Re:SEO? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ChrisKnight (16039) <merlin&ghostwheel,com> on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:17PM (#14648079) Homepage
    The difference is whether or not one of their staff did this, or whether they hired a 'professional' firm who assured them that these were accepted practices. Yes, the end result is the same, but with the latter you can give them the benefit of hte doubt that they were misled by their consultants.

    -Chris
  • by cecom (698048) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:25PM (#14648118) Homepage 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.

    I agree. Google has become an essential part of the Internet infrastructure, so punishing a web site like that is scary. Let's be serious here - when I am searching for "BMW germany", I want to find bmw.de, so what Google did almost seems like an arbitrary abuse of power.

    Of course it is Google's right to do whetever they want with their search engine, and in theory competition should even things out, but we all know that things don't quite work out that way in practice. Nobody, including me, is going to start using MSN search because of this incident :-)

    What if I wanted to implement my web site exclusively using AJAX ? (It doesn't matter whether it is a good idea, but let's say it is my choice, not Google's). I would have to serve static pages, different from what my users see, to search engines if I wanted my site to be indexed. How can Google decide whether this is good or bad ?

  • by typical (886006) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:28PM (#14648133) Journal
    Google 's job is to search and report what it finds, not to act as the earth's police!

    Google's job is to get me useful information.

    This makes Google's interests and my interests very well aligned.

    The job of SEOers is to prevent me from getting useful information. Google just sent a severe smack out towards people using SEOers. I'm cheering all the way.

    Tell you what. You don't like it, you can go set up a search engine that *advocates* abuse by SEOers, and try and get people to use that. Have fun.
  • by siefkencp (921228) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:39PM (#14648177)
    One key problem with the indexing and page rank scheme is that Google is Flash blind. I have spent a great deal of time trying to deal with the problem of Google getting to flash driven sites and found that the only way is to create content that allows Google to index a higher percentage of the site. In many cases I had to do this as a function of a php script running nightly to capture content and create an 'index' of my own just so Google could keep up. Is this then a violation (if I understand the article correctly)?

    Personally, I believe how you are Google ranked seems unfair since it's based on what other individuals and organizations are thought of and therefore think of you. Let's face it, it's a socially popular methodology and those who are in, well they will remain in, and those who are not have a more difficult time getting into the main stream. Of course you could skip all that by jumping on Google add scheme couldn't you? What we have here is a digital disparity, in my opinion.
  • by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Monday February 06, 2006 @12:13AM (#14648282)
    "If you design your site in such a way..."

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

    Your argument is strictly about fraudsters, but this was not a case of fraud from what I understand. 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.
  • by thesandtiger (819476) on Monday February 06, 2006 @12:48AM (#14648436)
    How is taking some company that was abusing the system off of a web-site even remotely like arresting people?

    The premise is different. The process is different. The consequences are different. The governing factors are different. I'd have a hard time coming up with something that is more unlike police abuse than this situation.

    Google is a search engine. Other search engines exist. Using Google does not preclude one from searching on other search engines. Delisting a company from Google may suck for that company, but so what? It isn't like they're putting that company out of business - they're just no longer provind a *free* service to that company because they feel that the company didn't play by their rules.

    If Google goes over the line - if they stop listing companies "just because," then people will eventually stop using them because they don't provide useful results. But also, if Google doesn't nuke sites that are breaking the rules, they won't provide useful results, and people will stop using them. It's a balancing act, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with it.

    Honestly, it seems like everyone's scrambling to find some way to turn Google into the evil empire, another MSFT. Here's the thing - it can't happen because they aren't a monopoly, and they can't become a monopoly because the user investment is exactly zero and the barriers to switching to using another search engine are non-existent. If Google starts dicking people around, Google will see a quick response. With companies like MSFT - where users have to invest a substantial amount of money just to use the products - there's incentive not to switch, since you'd be throwing your "investment" away.

    Do I like everything that Google does? Hell no. But I'm able to recognize that their business model is one that would make it very difficult for them to behave in anti-competitive ways withour fucking themselves badly in the process.
  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy.gmail@com> on Monday February 06, 2006 @12:56AM (#14648467)
    In no way is Google telling you how to design your web site.

    In much the same way Microsoft doesn't tell OEMs how to configure their computers ?

  • Re:Oh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hugzz (712021) on Monday February 06, 2006 @03:55AM (#14649153)
    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.
  • by smurfsurf (892933) on Monday February 06, 2006 @05:22AM (#14649377)
    What is your point? Google also delists paying Adwords cosutomers, when they spam the engine.
  • Re:Deception (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dunkelfalke (91624) on Monday February 06, 2006 @05:45AM (#14649430)
    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.
  • by marcello_dl (667940) on Monday February 06, 2006 @06:31AM (#14649527) Homepage Journal
    Yet there's something different between the ordinary spammer/search results manipulator, and bmw.de: the ordinary spammer has little content and zapping it usually improves the browsing experience of google users. Less V14gr4 and stuff. On the other hand, Google becomes less accurate by resetting the pagerank of bmw.de pages. If i search for bmw i would expect to find the official site among the first ones.

    IMHO the lesson is: Monopoly isn't good, even if the monopolist isn't evil.
  • by ultranova (717540) on Monday February 06, 2006 @07:03AM (#14649624)

    Google *IS* telling you how to design your web site. If you do this, and do that, and do this other thing, your ranking will be higher than if you don't do those things. So, two sites, with identical content, but one structurs it in the way that google wants, that one will get a higher page rank.

    A computer is unable to actually understand the site content in any meaningfull sense. That would require sentience. The Google spider will simply parse the site, and the search engine will do a word search from the database of parsed sites. The list returned this way needs to be ordered somehow, and structure is one valid way of doing this, since it gives hints of how various words may be related to each other in the page.

    In short, your complain is stupid; now matter how Google ordered the results, you could always claim that it is unfair to you.

    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),

    A Flash-based site is not a website. A website is HTML-based. What you have is a Flash file that happens to be reachable through the HTTP protocol, not a website. I don't know if Google can parse Flash at all, but if it does, be thankfull of that and don't complain.

    And Flash is not user friendly, and everyone hates it. Don't kid yourself.

    but not friendly to google, why should a competitor with a crappier site get a higher rank? Just because they followed googles rules? That's bull.

    Well, for starters, your competitor used appropriate technology - HTML - so that his site is accessible to both humans and search engines, while you made a Flash file and pretended that to be a web site (which it is not). If you insist on putting information in a format that cannot be used effectively, don't be surprised that man and machine alike will skip it.

    In short, your competitor has a better site than you do, so he gets a better pagerank.

  • google and SEO (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wwmedia (950346) on Monday February 06, 2006 @08:05AM (#14649811)
    the first result for searhing for SEO on google is this
    google webmaster info [google.com]
    the page has some usefull info for webmasters (obviously BMW didn read it before attemptign black hat seo techniques)
    i found the first paragraph amusing




    # Be wary of SEO firms that send you email out of the blue. Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:

    "Dear google.com, I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories..."

    Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for "burn fat at night" diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.
  • by DerWulf (782458) on Monday February 06, 2006 @08:51AM (#14649932)
    see, it's really a drag that we can't redefine words as we like. A monopoly means being the sole supplier of something:

    # (economics) a market in which there are many buyers but only one seller; "a monopoly on silver"; "when you have a monopoly you can ask any price you like"
    # exclusive control or possession of something; "They have no monopoly on intelligence"
    # a board game in which players try to gain a monopoly on real estate as pieces advance around the board according to the throw of a die
    wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

    # In economics, a monopoly (from the Greek monos, one + polein, to sell) is defined as a persistent market situation where there is only one provider of a kind of product or service. Monopolies are characterized by a lack of economic competition for the good or service that they provide and a lack of viable substitute goods.
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly

    If the judges really had found microsoft guilty of being a monopoly (instead of say, violating obscure anti-trust regulations) they'd be in error, no matter how often they'd judged wrongly.

  • by cbr2702 (750255) on Monday February 06, 2006 @10:13AM (#14650300) Homepage
    They are the sole provider of programs that can read the de-facto industry standard .doc files. And of operating systems that run Windows-compatible binaries. If you look further down that list of definitions:
    A market type in which there is a sole supplier of a good, service, or resource that has no close substitutes and in which there is a barrier preventing the entry of new firms into the industry.
    Sure there are other word processors and other operating systems, but there are no close substitutes for the Microsoft products. As for barriers to entry, Microsoft's illegal "monopoly abusing" deals for OEMs give one, as does the difficulty of reverse engineering the formats.
  • by DerWulf (782458) on Monday February 06, 2006 @11:13AM (#14650666)
    Crap. I'm sorry: www.openoffice.org - reads and writes all microsoft office formats. If developers wanted to create platform independant applications it sure isn't Microsoft that's stopping them: http://www.trolltech.com/ [trolltech.com], http://www.cygwin.com/ [cygwin.com]. Platform independance is just very pricy, a problem that's no being caused by Microsoft.

    >As for barriers to entry, Microsoft's illegal "monopoly abusing" deals for OEMs give one

    They said: "If you start carring other operating systems, we won't sell you ours anymore". Sure, not the best thing to happen from the consumer point of view, but illegal or immoral? Hardly. My girlfriend tells me "sleep with an other woman and you'll never see me nacked again". Is she abusing her monopoly? See, there are no close substitutes, as she is just really very fine and all. One could say her body is my de-facto standard when it comes to sex. Also, market entry for other girls is prohibitivly expensive, I just don't know how to deal with them. Should I sue her because she reserves the right to sleep with me on her own terms?

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