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Hitless: BMW Gets "Death Penalty" From Google

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Hitless: BMW Gets "Death Penalty" From Search Engine

Date posted: 02-09-2006

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Internet search giant Google temporarily removed BMW's main German Web site, bmw.de, and all its subsites, after the German carmaker was caught cheating to get more "hits" from searchers.

Back in 2003, Harvard Law School professor Jonathan Zittrain coined the phrase "Google Death Penalty" to describe the company's method of removing those who break the Internet social contract from its search functions. This week, bmw.de learned what that penalty feels like; the automaker's site was briefly removed from Google, and its all-important PageRank was dropped to 0. Reportedly Google leveled the punishment because BMW's search engine optimizers used an illegal technique called "doorway pages."

A doorway page is one created for search engine robots only. It is nothing else but a collection of keywords, invisible to "real" visitors, that redirects them immediately to a working page. In BMW's case, the keyword was the German word for "used cars," repeated dozens of times, to make Google more likely to display it to searchers. BMW removed the pages when the offense came to light, but could not do so soon enough to satisfy Google.

Copier maker Ricoh is another company that suffered the same fate for similar reasons. At midweek, both companies' German sites had been restored to Google's good graces, but not before a punishing few days of oblivion.

What this means to you: Don't mess with Google, or your company may find itself hitless.

Link: http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/News/articleId=109242

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