German sites get reprieve from Google, including BMW

The German websites of multi-national companies BMW and Ricoh were both searchable on Google today, less than a week after the American search engine giant issued its version of an online "death penalty" for breaches of its code of conduct. was blacklisted by Google for attempting to fix its ranking in searches and potentially misleading internet users into visiting the site. Then, searches on Google for also yielded no response, apparently for a similar offence. But today, searches for both companies' German-run websites were working again. Companies are becoming increasingly active in search optimisation techniques to drive viewers - "eyeballs" - and potential customers to their websites, and some of their methods have been deemed underhand. BMW had set up a “doorway” web page, which used the German expression for “used car” 42 times. Packing the page with car “keywords” convinced search engine computers that it was the top destination for potential used car buyers. "Google has been heavily criticised for not cracking down on these 'black-hat' search techniques," industry expert Warren Cowan, the chief executive of Greenlight, said. "The company is clearly sending out a strong message that it won't tolerate big brands ignoring the regulations any longer." The news of the blacklisting of BMW and Ricoh was first broken on a blog run by Matt Cutts, who describes himself as a software engineer at Google. The post appeared on Saturday, at least 48 hours, BMW Germany said, after it had amended its own website in line with Google requirements.

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