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Google Delists BMW-Germany 613

Raenex writes "The car maker BMW has had its German website 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 @10:13PM (#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 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 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 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.
    • 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 aiken_d ( 127097 ) <(moc.yrtnegnat) (ta) (skoorb)> on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:34PM (#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?

    • by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:42PM (#14647957) also illustrates the large and growing power of google, a power that may not always be used for optimal "goodness."

      In related news, after being de-listed, the headquarters of BMW Germany ceased to exist. People coming to visit the headquarters found only a vast, dark vortex of nothingness, over which were visible huge glowing letters reading "Error 404: Page Not Found". The entire German management of BMW has disappeared as well, along with several nearby dairy farms and a brewery.

      At a press conference, a reporter asked whether this sort of behavior fit with the company's "Do no evil" motto, or reflected a growing arrogance and malice on the part of Google. The Google spokesman declined to respond to the question. Instead his eyes briefly glowed red before the reporter spontaneously burst into flames and was consumed, leaving only a small pile of ashes on the floor.

      The remaining reporters had no further questions.

  • 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 [].

  • 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)( [].
  • SEO? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ploss ( 860589 ) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:21PM (#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:SEO? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Geoffreyerffoeg ( 729040 ) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:34PM (#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:SEO? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ChrisKnight ( 16039 ) <merlin@ghostwheel.cCOUGARom minus cat> 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.

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

          by drew ( 2081 )
          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.
        • Re:SEO? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by typical ( 886006 )
          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 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.

  • Oh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by JK1150 ( 897112 ) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:30PM (#14647913)
    Oh, is this why Miserable Failure still goes to President Bush? I see they really have a guard on deceptive search methods there at google, but I wonder why their stock is tanking...
    • No, it is because google is a very smart search engine.
    • Re:Oh... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hugzz ( 712021 )
      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.
  • 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.

    • 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.
    • Re:Deception (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dunkelfalke ( 91624 )
      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.
      • Re:Deception (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hackstraw ( 262471 ) *
        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 SIGBUS ( 8236 ) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:40PM (#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.
  • by sethstorm ( 512897 ) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @10:59PM (#14648008) Homepage
    ...BMW drivers all over Palo Alto are somehow locked out of their cars, coincidentally affecting some Google employees. No word yet on if this affects all cars globally, or if this is a localized problem.
  • by Saeger ( 456549 ) <> on Sunday February 05, 2006 @11:06PM (#14648031) Homepage
    So, Google delisted 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 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).

    • 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 righ

  • 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 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 [] 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?
    • 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 db32 ( 862117 ) on Monday February 06, 2006 @07:23AM (#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 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.
  • 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 []
    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, 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.

"Being against torture ought to be sort of a bipartisan thing." -- Karl Lehenbauer