BMW.de as seen from Google:
PageRank zero and a “sorry” page.
The reason for the ban is likely to be that the BMW websites have been caught employing a technique used by black-hat search engine optimizers: doorway pages. German and international bloggers last week were quick to spread the news.
As you may know, a doorway page is stuffed full of keywords that the site feels a need to be optimized for; however, as opposed to real pages, this doorway is only displayed to the Googlebot. Human visitors will be immediately redirected to another page upon visit. And that’s exactly what happened at BMW.de, as reported Wednesday.
While BMW almost immediately removed the pages after the news broke (after having them live for almost 2 years), apparently it was too late. German BMW are now suffering what is known as the “Google death penalty”: a ban from almost any imaginable top search result, and a degrading of the PageRank to the lowest possible value.
Consequently, a search for gebrauchtwagen bmw, which had a page at BMW.de as top result on Wednesday last week, now shows AutoScout24.de as top result. (Interestingly enough, the second result at this moment is the report on this blog.) A search for BMW.de using Google’s site operator doesn’t yield any results, either. (Note that sometimes, different Google data centers return different results, so this change may not yet be visible on all of Google.)
This penalty is a good example of what can happen to sites going against the Google webmaster guidelines – no matter how big or important one might deem the site. Google writes:
“If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or ’throwaway’ domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google’s index.”
As Mario Sixtus put it in the German Handelsblatt blog on Wednesday:
“Such usage of SEO practices – otherwise known from porn or casino sites – are likely to add another chapter to that best-selling book, ’The project manager’s guide to covering up smaller errors with even bigger ones.’”
Update 2: BMW has been reincluded.
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