The Return of BMW

February 8, 2006

Topics: Blogging.

As has been reported by Matt Cutts, Search Engine Watch, and many other places, BMW.de has been re-indexed by Google after some quick removal of Javascript redirects.

What I’m interested in in this situation is what the long-term repercussions may be. Will it stop black-hat SEO companies from employing their devious tactics? I doubt it. Will it raise public attention about these techniques? I think so! Although companies which routinely employ these unethical techniques for spam sites will undoubtedly be unphased, this situation will hopefully ensure that responsible web designers who have not kept up on SEO will become aware of what techniques should be questioned.

Spammers, of course, consider having their sites removed from Google just part of the game – their goal is the quick buck, not a fully-developed business interface. But I have little doubt that there are web designers out there who simply have not kept up with this aspect of information architecture. Hopefully this publicity will give them a heads up.

I also note that the post at Search Engine Watch says:

"So, [BMW] got a three-day slap on the wrist. It demonstrates once again how public spam reports can be so effective and how big major web sites really don’t get the “death penalty,” when it comes to spamming."

Here, I really question the whole idea that Google was ever out to punish BMW. They were enforcing their policies in a completely reasonable manner and sending an important message by doing it. It certainly shouldn’t be considered a "death penalty" – this is a serious misnomer in the industry. Google’s de-indexing is only called a death penalty because it is usually applied to purely spam sites. These sites have no intention of fixing their problems! The purpose of the penalty is to reduce the significance of these techniques in the Google index – any site that discontinues the practice has an equal chance of reinclusion.

So why did BMW.de get reincluded so quickly, when Joe Smith’s Used Car Emporium took several months? Well, to be frank, BMW is a huge corporation. It didn’t get reindexed because it’s a huge corporation – but because it’s a huge website, with extremely high relevance to the keywords "BMW germany" and a large number of incoming links. It is an important site. Any site with thousands of incoming links will be reindexed quickly. The fact is, Google needs the big sites.

What’s the lesson here for the small business owner? Don’t take the risk – unless your site becomes the international center for your industry, you’re not going to be able to recover quickly.

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