The BMW story.

I was told about the BMW post at Matt Cutts blog, yesterday.

But as I was travelling I didn’t have time to give it much thought or put fingers to keyboard.

As I’m currently ensconced in my hotel overlooking London’s wonderful Hyde Park, gazing out of the window, trying to ignore the PowerPoint presentation I’m supposed to be preparing for in the morning…

Judging from what I’ve seen, BMW’s German site ( has been removed because it was using a low-tech form of cloaking. I doubt very much that Google found that themselves. Much more a case of the spam team at Google getting an email, probably.

It’s interesting that the BBC places so much emphasis on how much you can lose by this type of thing happening. But, correct me if I’m wrong, you couldn’t buy cars directly from that site (nor any other as I’m aware) you have to go to a dealer. And if I was looking for a used car and ended up at a BMW corporate site, I don’t think I’d feel that I’d come to the right place.

So if they only acted as their own electronic brochure and “dealership” search engine, they’re hardly going to go bust over this.

Of course, it’s not BMW in trouble, really. It’s the pathetic SEOs who tried to turn a shiny corporate brochure into a second hand car lot. Which marketing genius had that idea?

A I say, if I was in Germany and did a search for “used cars”, ended up at BMW and then it took me another 15 minutes to find an authorised dealership which may be able to sell a used a car, I wouldn’t call that the best experience.

I’m sitting with 12 CEOs of major financial institutions tomorrow. And I guarantee none of them will know what this actually means to their businesses either (cloaked doorway pages). I can almost be certain that, if they don’t have an SEO evangelist in-house reporting to the online marketing director, even he wouldn’t know either.

I know this from practice. I worked with a huge corporation (five years ago) and had doorway pages on redirects all over the site. It was a necessity at that time because they had the crappiest CMS you could imagine. And there was no deceit as the pages did redirect to similar content.

When I explained what I was recommending, the CMO simply said “Mike, you’re the expert, we’ll take your guidance.” So, I guess I could have told him that we also needed to sacrifice a few small animals as part of the program and maybe even got a free barbecue out of it too!

Of course I said there was a small risk. But the fact still remains, I was given the opportunity to implement anything I wanted because the organisation knew nothing at all about SEO.

You’d think that they would be a lot more educated at that level by now (CMO and Online Marketing Executives) but the truth of the matter is, manyare so confused by all of the jargon pitched at them, they don’t know what to believe.

I did a lot of search marketing audits as an independent consultant before I sold to Websourced (MarketSmart Interactive Inc., as is). And the amount of spam I spotted was huge. For instance, the amount of invisible text for keywords and phrases that you’d have no hope of ranking on unless you had supreme linkage data, but there it was anyway.

I’d like to think that BMW vetted the company which did the work for them. Or had a list of keywords they were targeting. But it’s most likely that they were more interested in how much traffic was being driven to the site (excuse the pun!). It’s not a sales site, it’s an eyeballs site. And if BMW were satisfied that the SEO company was doing its job because of the increase in traffic, it’s likely they wouldn’t question it. And let’s face it there are probably a lot more searches for “used cars” (whether you sell them or not) when your job is to drive traffic, than there are for “low cost brand new BMW” 🙂

Ignorance on behalf of the client at work here, I believe. Wool over the eyes by the vendor here, I believe. Just as bad for the SEO industry as it is for BMW, I believe.

BMW won’t comment in full because they need their SEO company to explain in full. And then they’ll shift the blame and it will become the fault of SEOs. Google will re-include BMW and look much better for having had a pop at one of the big boys and not just smaller firms trying too hard.

Then my pal Dave Naylor will compile a list as long as your arm of other huge brands spamming and Google will have to remove them all. And then the next time you do a search for “new BMW” or “new Mercedes” or “new Jaguar” – you’ll get Chucks Second Hand Car Lot at number one… I don’t think!

As I mentioned in another post (or somewhere) recently, nobody has any rights over Google to be in their database. You have more rights to be out (and that’s a tough argument too). But as I always say, if I’m an end user looking for something at Google and don’t find it… Best hope I don’t get a better experience at Yahoo! or I’ll stick with them until they let me down.

I wonder if anyone knows the SEO firm in question. And NO I’m not asking for them to be outed publicly. I’m sure BMW will do that if the story doesn’t just die down and go away.

And I wonder if they were they actually ranking for the term “used cars”? I’m on the road and it’s difficult to keep up with all of the postings on the subject.

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