Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Google Goes After BMW Germany

In January, Matt Cutts, a Google software engineer, posted on his blog (www.mattcutts.com/blog/) that, in 2006, "I expect Google to pay a lot more attention to spam in other languages, whether it be German, French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, or any other language. For example, I have no patience for keyword-stuffed doorway pages that do Java Script redirects, no matter what the language."

Matt was talking about the attempts on the part of some foreign websites to fool the Google web crawlers. Web crawlers are the automated programs that search content on the Internet in order to index and rank the material. Companies routinely employ search engine optimizers (SEO) to help them raise their website's score in Google's PageRank system. A SEO specialist who employs unfair techniques is called a black-hat guy.

Matt was complaining about the websites that insert a "doorway" page intended to artificially boost its popularity ranking with Google. When the web crawlers arrive, they scan this doorway page which contains "blocks of text with repeated key search words." (C/Net News) However, if a human client visits the site, s/he would be automatically redirected by Java Script from the doorway to another more attractive page with pictures and less text.

Apparently Google was serious about these efforts because, on Saturday, Cutts reported "[t]his week our webspam team continued ramping up our anti-spam efforts by removing BMW.de from our index, and Ricoh.de will be removed soon for similar reasons."

To show you what we're talking about, I copied several lines from the BMW doorway page below. Imagine a page covered in text like this:

"Sie suchen einen BMW Neuwagen? Unsere Suche nach BMW Handlern in lhrer Nahe bietet schnellen Zugriff auf BMW-Autohauser in lhrer Nahe, wo Sie sich die BMW Neuwagen in aller Ruhe und Ausfuhrlichkeit ansehen konnen. BMW Neuwagen - Sie erhalten von uns Adresse, Telefon und Website der BMW-Handler in lhrer Nahe. Suchen Sie uber Postleitzahl, Stadt oder Name des BMW-Partners. BMW Neuwagen - in jeder Abteilung

Notice that the word "neuwagen" (German for "new car") is repeated four times in as many lines. This is a blatant attempt to improve BMW.de's Google ranking for new cars. Matt says, "[t]hat's a violation of our webmaster quality guidelines, specifically the principle of 'Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users."

According to yesterday's C/Net News, "[t]o regain Google listing status . . . BMW.de will have to remove the Java Script that redirects users around the site in this fashion and then send a reinclusion request to Google's Webspam team, which Cutts leads. BMW.de has already removed some of the redirect pages."

Matt's blog also indicated that he was going to want details on WHO created the doorway pages and assurances that such pages won't reappear on the sites.

I thought this story about black-hat techniques was an ideal way to introduce tomorrow's blog -- about Yahoo and AOL's plans to charge businesses for guaranteed delivery of their spam.

Stay tuned . . .


For The Trees said...

Well, CowFlop! It's already come down to this - paid ad delivery. If Yahoo and AOL are gonna charge to get spam delivered past the spam filters, then the whole net's gonna be one huge slice of spam. It's gonna get a lot nastier before it breaks under the weight of commercialism.

For some strange reason I feel like the Net is getting to be like TV - another commercial every 5 minutes. Pretty soon there'll be subscription email: pay a monthly fee for an email address that doesn't get any spam - guaranteed. That'd be taking the idea of satellite radio to the net. Wonder how long THAT'LL take?

Sherrill Quinn said...

Well, that's just perfect. Whatever happened to customer service? I don't want spam. I especially don't want my email providers accepting money to allow more spam through. (insert lots of cussing here)

Yasmine Phoenix said...

There are advertisements at the bottom of my aol, and I've learned to ignore it. Yes, I think corporations should charge, then I can use aol to block their ads, I hope. I tear up and throw away enough junk mail. Hit that delete key.

Can't wait for more on Wal Mart.