Falling Foul of Google: BMW

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Owen Whitcombe

Senior SEO Specialist

Our Falling Foul of Google series sees me take a look at the German car giant BMW. It got its fingers burnt back in 2006 after employing some naughty SEO schemes.

What did BMW do?

The car manufacturer’s German website used black hat ‘doorway’ tactics in order to rank for the German equivalent of the keyword ‘used cars’.
BMW had a page that looked like this from which German customers could buy used cars. However, it was created in Javascript and was hard for Google’s spiders at the time to crawl.
So BMW created a ‘doorway’ page that was stuffed with keywords in order to rank for competitive terms on search results pages. A screenshot taken by Matt Cutts on his blog showed what one of the doorway pages looked like:
This unsightly page showed up as a search result on Google, but as soon as users clicked on the link, they would be redirected to the more aesthetically-pleasing Javascript page.
It was clear that this manipulation was a clear violation of one of Google’s webmaster quality guidelines which advises simply:
Don’t deceive your users

How did Google react?

BMW was handed a severe punishment – its page rank was manually changed to 0 and it was delisted from search pages, including for its own brand name.
The car giant was surprised that Google handed down the punishment without speaking to its web team first, and although it claimed that it had done nothing wrong, the offending doorway pages were removed.

A happy ending?

Yes. After a short while, BMW started being re-indexed by Google and got its first-position rankings back for brand terms as well as healthy positions in competitive search terms.

Is your website holding you back?

Without knowing it, many brands’ websites have technical issues that are harming their visibility online.

Is your site in good health? To arrange a comprehensive audit, talk to our Cardiff SEO agency team today – call 02920 766 467.

Alternatively, get in touch with our SEO team today.

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Owen Whitcombe

Senior SEO Specialist

Owen has worked in primarily Ecommerce since leaving University. Many years spent in the online sports retail arena before gaining experience in the online catering business then becoming digital marketing manager for national toy company before finding his feet in SEO. As a results driven individual Owen loves nothing more than when we can give…

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