CNET reported today that search engine Google had blacklisted the German BMW site for violating Google’s standard terms of service on web spam. BMW Germany was using an aggressive SEO tactic to improve rankings with text laden, key word infused “doorway pages” deployed to catch the eye of search engine bots like Google’s but then (and here’s the no no) were redirecting users from those text pages to more content rich sites than the pages that had been indexed. It’s pretty interesting to read Matt Cutts’ post on this topic since he is the center of the story on the Google side. Matt is head of Google’s web spam department and his post shows the actual examples of the BMW pages and explains all the details behind the story.
I can’t imagine that BMW is happy to have been completely removed from Google – even if the expulsion is temporary. Next, BMW has to ‘fix’ their transgression and relist their site which they’ll no doubt adjust quickly.
It was a good reminder to us to leave the manipulative tactics to someone else when executing your marketing tactics – whether it be SEO or another method. In today’s Internet world manipulation is outed quickly and dealt with harshly. Yes, I think you could easily make the argument that BMW didn’t do itself any harm in this instance with their brand since they were serving up pages that were still highly relevant – just more content rich. It stands to reason that users would have found their ultimate search validated.
That’s why we would put this in the no biggie category while noting that the edges of the envelope were in fact found. It’s good to know where those edges are in real life and I imagine BMW is probably not too unhappy to be pushing the limits a little. After all, their engineering and automotive tradition has always been about making cars that perform at the outer edges of performance. In this case their Internet Marketing engine just needs a tune up.