February 6th, 2006

Google Orwellian

by

Google is powerful — and we all learned from Orwell that power corrupts. As to search, Google has near total power — will total power totally corrupt Google?

Ask BMW, whose SEO strategy violated Google’s “orthodoxy,” leading Google to unceremoniously excommunicate BMW’s German website from its “organic” search results. The BBC reported this action as a “death penalty.”

Google controls a huge percentage of the traffic flow on the Internet — and it has annoited itself judge, jury, and executioner for anyone who violates its “quality guidelines.” As Alexander Muse puts it:

No trial, no jury – just death… Sorry guys!

It’s one thing for Google to tweak its algorithms to lower the search ranking of sites they perceive to be “gaming the system” (although even this is Big-Brotherish) — it’s quite another to summarily reduce a company’s page rank to zero.

You could argue that Google has searchers best interest in mind, but when you smell the stench of “orthodoxy,” you have to ask yourself — is Google’s unchecked power really serving its users well, or is it being blinded by its own definition of “right” and “wrong” in the struggle to get noticed online.

Alexander had a rather chilling update to his post:

Update: Brian IM’d me that he was worried Google would zap our pagerank for writting this post. WOW! He was seriously concerned. Are you concerned too?

Is Publishing 2.0 at risk for this display of dissent? How far down the slippery slip does Google have to slide before they start Stalinistically stamping out dissent?

We might be inclined to trust Google’s technology — algorithms do what they are programmed to do — but can we trust the corruptible human intelligence behind those algorithms, which may be tempted to take their power to unfortunate extremes? Will history repeat itself in the politics of online information flow?

Matt Cutts, Google’s enforcer of search orthodoxy, turned off comments for his blog post on BMW — stamping out conversation — not a good omen.

Add this to the China censorship fiasco.

Paging George Orwell.

UPDATE
Google has competitors, so their power is not “total.” BMW got what they deserved and won’t really suffer in the long run. Google had no choice but to crack down on BMW because they would have been damned if they didn’t. Google is trying to help sites from running afoul of their rules. Other search engines do what Google does. It’s implausible that Google would ever exercise any kind of overt retribution. And it’s not like Google is the Government. There are other things going on in the world that are truly “Orwellian.”

Valid points all. But somehow I find little consolation.

If you’re absolutely certain there isn’t — or could ever be — anything amiss here, then you should sleep well at night. I won’t try to keep you awake. Sweet dreams. Good night.

I’ll be up re-reading Animal Farm:

“We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of the farm depend on us. Day and night, we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.”

UPDATE #2
Man, talk about “overheated rhetoric.” The opportunity to observe the spirited, even angry defense of Google is well worth the heat I’m taking for the conceit of this post. (And it was a conceit — it struck me as Orwellian, so I tried playing it out — I guess some thought experiments are inherently dangerous.)

BMW’s SEO was spam, and spam is evil, so Google’s actions are righteous, and how dare you suggest otherwise.

If it’s so wrong to suggest that there’s something creepy about all this, then dismiss it out of hand and move on — why take time out for all the righteous outrage?

The righteous defense of Google makes this all feel more Orwellian, not less.

Seriously, I’d love nothing more than to be wrong about this — I would sleep better at night. But I’m not about to start trusting Google unquestioningly.

When a company’s mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” that’s aspiring to truly awesome power. And the notion that the market will immediately spot and punish any abuses of that power still strikes me as a bit too optimistic.

Comments (42 Responses so far)

  1. for something really meaningful, like a state taking some kind of oppressive action against its own citizens, or using doublespeak in the service of some great wrong? Using it to describe an Internet search engine engaging in the site-indexing business is more than a little over-the-top, I would argue. Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0, who has said in the past that he wishes bloggers would take more time with their posts and not say things just to be inflammatory

  2. I’m with those who think that Google’s recent severing of BMW’s online oxygen supply was waaaay too heavy-handed in the circumstances. (Google cut BMW off for serving up different pages to search engines as compared to the pages it serves the rest of us.)

  3. the spam. All in all it’s a fairly standard day in the world of SEO. But wait, what’s this? Some people think that Google shouldn’t be imposing its standards on the web, dictating how a site can or cannot be designed. Danny Sullivan rounds them up: Google Orwellian at Publishing 2.0 is one example (I left some comments there), Death Penalty, Investigations? Sounds like the FBI… is another and Google Delists BMW-Germany at Slashdot has some similar comments. Jeremy Zawodny has some pushback of his own on the

  4. Google Orwellian 11 hours ago Matthew M. Boedicker : Google Orwellian kellan : Publishing 2.0: Google should stop picking on pour BMW – The points about Google’s power at the center of the network are valid, but this idea that a major company like BMW should be

  5. Google Orwellian

  6. treatment of BMW’s SEO techniques. Like anyone else who violates their guidelines, BMW is subject to the consequences.Take, for example, the Google Orwellian story on Publishing 2.0:ItÂ’s one thing for Google to tweak its algorithms to lower the search ranking of sites they perceive to be

  7. 얼마전 중국에서의 검색 검열과 관련해서 구글의 행보를 더 이상 그냥 믿지만은 않겠다는 고백이 인상적인 Google Orwellian 엔트리가 대표적이라고 할까요. 저는 적어도 이 문제에 대해선 저 엔트리를 잘근잘근 씹은 Jeremy

  8. Google shouldn’t be imposing its standards on the web, dictating how a site can or cannot be designed. Danny Sullivan rounds them up: Google Orwellian at Publishing 2.0 is one example (I left some comments there), Death Penalty, Investigations? Sounds like the FBI… is another and Google

  9. The real offense was censoring the cache: http://paul.kedrosky.com/archives/002480.html

  10. Let me quickly retract that: Google seems to have restored their cached version after Paul’s post. Here’s the page that was allegedly removed: http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:Hb5MMW_p96wJ:www.google.com/support/bin/answer.py%3Fanswer%3D17795%26topic%3D368

    Please see the above link, and Kedrosky’s, for yourself. However, the episode still raises this question: is the power the revise history via the cache more awesome than the ability to limit real-time search results?

  11. [...] What does BMW say? Well they were not allowed to present evidence, confront their accuser or defend themselves. The BBC asked them for a comment on their sentence and they admitted using ‘doorway pages’ to increase search rankings, but denied any attempt to mislead users. I guess that Google assumes everyone is gaming their system – i.e. they are the only search engine in town. Hm… Do no evil? Death? Secret police? Investigations? More from ZD here.  More from Geek News here.  Finally, more from Publishing 2.0 – they understand what I am talking about. [...]

  12. What unchecked power?

    Their power is derived from their user base. If they take actions that worsen the search experience enough to leave the door open to a competitor, people will switch just like they switched to Google seven years ago. This is the ultimate low-swithing-cost free market we’re talking about here, as far away from Stalinism as can be. Is Publishing 2.0 at risk? Who knows… how much of your traffic comes from Google searches, and how much from links outside of Google’s sphere of influence?

  13. Come on now… BMW was doing blatant cloaking, an SEO trick that everyone in the SEO community knows will get you banned if detected.

    If BMW didn’t know the risk they were taking, their SEO consultants certainly did.

    That said, yes Google is scary. But this is an example that falls way down the list of things to be afraid of. Blogs shouldn’t rely on search engine traffic anyway. Until Google can take away your inbound links, you’ll be fine.

  14. @Michal: The problem with switching is that, unlike seven years ago when users ditched AltaVista for Google, there is no “Google” today to switch to.

    Yahoo’s public message on search is at best mixed. Has Susan Decker made any follow up statements since here Bloomberg interview? And Yahoo is generally considered second to Google in search relevance. What’s the next option? MSN? AOL? Ask?

    Not at this point in time.

    And from NitPic2.0 ™, British historian Lord Acton’s commentary on power predated Orwell by a few decades: Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    (Or the corollary: Power tends to corrupt; absolute power is much more fun!)

  15. @David: I’m not sure I agree that Google lacks serious competition. Yahoo! and MSN have both essentially caught up; I use Google more out of habit than because I believe they’re still measurably better. Also, I think that if Google continued to slip a little, a competitor would step up. Right now, no one wants to fund search because there’s an impression that competing with Google is a fool’s game. A few missteps can change this perception.

    Google got in the door because the switching costs of search engine choice seven years ago were near zero. The move to personalization is an attempt to increase these costs artificially, but it’s not Windows-expensive.

  16. Also, just wanted to toss in a link to this excellent and mildy-related Bob Blakley essay, On The Absurdity of “Owning One’s Identity”. If PageRank is reputation, then it’s not BMW’s, it’s Google’s story about BMW.

  17. Gosh, where to begin.

    1) Google does not have near total power, not even in search. Yep, a huge amount of traffic flows through Google. A huge amount also does NOT. Yahoo, MSN and Ask Jeeves are all independent search voices that have a lot of usage. Google is merely one search “newspaper” among them — a big one, but not the only one.

    2) Google is not the only search engine that annoits itself judge, jury and executioner. They all have guidelines that they themselves solely create and measure against. Google isn’t some unusual exception. That’s standard practice in the search engine industry and has been since pretty much day one. Need more? See http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3344581

    3) Suggesting that lowering the ranking of a site is better than dropping a PageRank score is simply silly. You don’t really seem to understand how things actually operate. If a site is banned, it is removed from the index entirely. That is in effect one of those “tweaks” you are talking about. Yeah, the PageRank score drops as well. Who cares? It doesn’t matter ultimately what your score is. It matters whether you rank for anything in actual searches. That leads to another possibility — that you aren’t banned but that you are penalized. So big deal — you might still keep your PR7, PR8 or whatever but you don’t rank for any term. That PageRank doesn’t help you at all. And by the way, Google’s actually won the legal right to do whatever it wants with PageRank scores (see http://www.pandia.com/sw-2003/21-searchking.html, http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2165111)

    4) Orthodoxy? OK, tell you what. How about someone takes a copy of something from your web site, cloaks it so that only Google sees it, then feeds out something different to a users. Would following that orthodoxy bother you? OK, that’s not what happened here. What happened here is that BMW was showing pictures of pretty cars but to Google’s spider, it was showing nonesensical copy including the repetition of the phrase “used cars” over 40 times. No issue with that? Actually, you might not. Exactly what is deemed to be “manipulating” Google or any search engine is hotly debated by those in the trenches of search engine optimization and has been done for years. But what you’ll find many will tell you is that ultimate, the final arbiter on these matters is the search engines themselves. Fly in the face of what they say NOT to do, and you might find yourself banned. Don’t like it? Find another search engine to be listed in for free. Search engines are under no obligation to carry anything, any more than a newspaper (or your own web site here) is obligated to carry anything.

    5) Are you in danger of being banned for your “dissent?” Please. Google lists web site that are far more antagonistic that this post even comes close to approaching. Heck, Google-Watch.org has been slamming Google for years and remains listed just fine.

    6) As for Alexander’s post, there were no “secret police” that went out and did this. Philipp over Google Blogoscoped reporting on the BMW spam here, http://blog.outer-court.com/archive/2006-02-01-n31.html. That spread out among a variety of search blogs, including my own. That publicity meant Google was going to have to do something, otherwise it would have been accused of allowing BMW to break the rules other sites have to follow. And then no doubt we’d be told that this is because BMW might advertise with Google, so look at how evil they are in playing favorites, etc.

    Overall, I can understand many of the concerns you have, but they a lot of real perspective about how search engines have and currently do interact with web site content.

    A big site like BMW should have known better — or more likely in this case, probably a firm that was doing the SEO for BMW should have known better. They deserve no tears here. They’ll be back in Google in short order. Reserve your concern for the smaller site owners who might accidentally do stupid things. Even there, things have actually gotten positive over the past few months with Google actually doing an outreach program to many of them that might violate guidelines, as covered more here: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/webmaster-communication/

  18. Come on, Scott — talking about Google and Orwell in the same sentence is just a little over the top, isn’t it? We’re talking about a search engine, not the technology arm of a police state, or a boot stamping on a human face. If George Bush had persuaded Google to remove webpages chronicling his cocaine use during college, then I could see the point. Of course, BMW didn’t get to “confront its accuser” as Alex said — because it wasn’t a trial. Google provides searches, and it has terms for inclusion in its index; break the rules and you are out. If you don’t like it, get yourself indexed by a different search engine. Are people somehow unable to find BMW’s website without the use of Google? No. As Michal points out, there are other engines, even if everyone is currently obsessed with Google’s dominance. As for Alex being concerned that Google would “zap” his page-rank for even writing about it, that’s so farcical it doesn’t even really deserve a response.

  19. Mathew, why does an entity have to be government to be Orwellian? Google is a private, company and it can do whatever it wants with its service (within the law), but it does so under the rubric of “righteous” search results — it’s Google’s self-righteousness that bothers me more than anything else. The question of switching is completely missing the point — of course Google’s position is neither permanent nor guaranteed. But in the present moment, it is dominant, and when it cracks down on a BMW, it does real damage to their business. From a free market standpoint, there’s nothing wrong with that — but if you pretend to righteous, you will be judged by that standard. And the type of power that Google as a private company now wields over the business dynamics of other companies is, unless I’m missing something, unprecedented. So if we shy away from calling Google Orwellian, we close our eyes — maybe there’s nothing to see, but if we don’t look, we’ll never know.

    I’m glad you sleep well at night confident that Google would not seek retribution against a website that expresses a dissenting opinion — why would they do that? — because they can — that’s how power corrupts. Maybe you’re also confident that the government is only wiretapping conversations with terrorists — it’s only by trusting in power that we put ourselves at risk of subjugation. If that’s over-the-top, it’s only the because the particular circumstances pan out that way, not because the principle behind the inquiry is misguided.

  20. Danny, my response to you as the same as to Mathew — I’m not suggesting there is anything immoral or illegal or unfair about what Google did to BMW — as long as they comply with the law, they can do whatever they please, and people can switch search engines if they don’t like it.

    What raises my red flag is the tone that Google takes in justifying their actions. (Maybe it’s the tone that I took that prompted you to write a 6+ point apology for Google — if I was so off the mark with this post, it would hardly be worth your time — and it’s my blog, so I can say whatever I want, right? At least I don’t turn of my comments to block the flood of people telling me I’m wrong.)

    We may both agree that what BMW did was an “unfair” practice, but Google’s ability to arbitrate “fair practices” with such impact is a new phenomenon in the history of information flow and marketing activities, and I don’t think it can be given too much scrutiny.

    That Yahoo and MSN have competing search engines has no bearing on an assessment of Google’s behavior or on the current measure of their power. If I decided to block BMW from AdSense and all Chinese IP addresses from accessing my website, do you think anyone would care? No, and why — because my site doesn’t matter — it’s insignificant in the grand scheme of information flow on the Internet. But the same is not true of Google.

    What Google does matters a lot — which is not to say we should regulate it or make it illegal — they may not have crossed that line yet. But if our default posture is to give them a free pass, what’s to stop them from crossing that line?

    Orwell’s lesson is that you slide down the slope faster than you think.

  21. [...] Take, for example, the Google Orwellian story on Publishing 2.0: It’s one thing for Google to tweak its algorithms to lower the search ranking of sites they perceive to be “gaming the system” (although even this is Big-Brotherish) — it’s quite another to summarily reduce a company’s page rank to zero. You could argue that Google has searchers best interest in mind, but when you smell the stench of “orthodoxy,” you have to ask yourself — is Google’s unchecked power really serving its users well, or is it being blinded by its own definition of “right” and “wrong” in the struggle to get noticed online. [...]

  22. Scott, do you stay awake at night worrying that the US government is going to send you to Guantanamo bay for your website? That’s roughly what you’re doing here. What Google did was:

    1) A *good* use of power!

    2) More an action to which they were pushed by embarrassment than any kind of Stalinist purge.

    The overheated rhetoric makes talking about Google’s power *harder*, because defense against spammers is so important.

  23. I hate to say it, but I’ve lost a certain amount of respect for this blog based on this post.

    It’s hard to write about media 2.0, when you don’t seem to grasp a basic concept of the internet.

    BMW was essentially using techniques designed to boost rankings which rely on cracks within Google’s system. This is commonly called ‘spamming’ although it has nothing to do with spam– it has to do with exploiting Google’s system to get more hits. Exactly what spammers and splogs do.

    Every day, hundereds if not thousands of sites get blacklisted in exactly this same way. Most of them will never recover, because they never had the content in the first place. BMW will of course be back, but this is a good lesson to all of those SEO idiots who think they won’t get caught.

    BMW should have immediately fired their SEO team, apologized to Google, and moved on.

    This is not about Big Brother– it’s about Google, a multi-billion dollar company, protecting what is still essentially their only asset- relevency of search results.

    The China decision and this have zero connection other then Google trying to make money. You can’t make money if you allow people to exploit the principal reason for being– to deliver the best search results.

  24. nn

    I hate to say it, but I’ve lost a certain amount of respect for this blog based on this post.

    nn
    This is precisely why people are concerned about. There’s a real danger of people preconcieving that Google’s right and then judging the matter.

  25. @Michal: I use search engines a lot, and not just the big players. I’m certainly no Danny Sullivan when it comes to writing about them, but I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on the relevance issue.

    I agree with you that there is competition in search, but as for MSN and Yahoo having caught up, I’m just not seeing it. My experience has been 1) submit a query to a non-Google search engine, 2) click through two or three pages of results, 3) toss the query at Google just for giggles, 4) see the answer I need appear in Google SERPs on the first page, usually in the first six or seven entries.

    YMMV.

  26. Scott, sorry you took what I posted at a 6 point apology for Google. It was more an attempt to better educate you about how search engines have and currently do operate. If you want to comment about big brotherish activities in regards to search spam, understanding the history and climate of how search engines have operated would be helpful.

    Of course you can say whatever you like. I didn’t suggest otherwise. I’m just providing some additional information that might help influence how you and others think. I assumed you wanted such comments, since you allow them here.

    As for me turning off my comments, that’s not true. I’m not sure if you were aiming that at me or not. But if you have any comments about anything I’ve written, you’re more than welcome to post in our forums, http://forums.searchenginewatch.com. Want to comment about what I’ve written on the BMW issue? Here’s the exact discussion on that, http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?t=9948. You’re more than welcome. I love comments and discussion. Heck, that’s why I’m commenting here.

    Yahoo and MSN are definitely not insignificant. There are plenty of sites that do not rank well in Google but thrive and survive. That’s been the case for years. It was the case even before we had Google. It is an important player; the most popular one currently, but building it up as the only one or the only one that matters simply inflates Google’s own mistaken opinion of itself and the mistaken opinions others have of it.

    Comparing Google to the other search engines is crucial if you want to determine if its behavior is somehow wrong in this matter. As I’ve explained, it is simply deciding what it will accept just as all the other major search engines do. If you have a problem with BMW being banned, that’s not a problem with Google — that’s a problem with search engines in general.

    That issue — whether search engines as a whole should be banning for various reasons, either because of technicalities or because of underlying content — is a long discussed one in the search engine optimization industry, the people who have been fighting this front line battle you’ve now waded in on. If you explore some of that discussion (and I’ll be happy to send you links to good articles if you want), you’ll find it is hardly a black and white issue.

    Cloaking content, as BMW was doing, isn’t necessarily deemed evil by many if the content is pretty much getting people to a page that it’s a about. So what if BMW used “used BMWs” 42 times in copy no one can see. The end result was you got to a page that no one would deny is about used BMWs. But then again, if I cloak content about children’s games and deliver you to porn, is that OK? Such things happen. If I steal your content here because you rank well for a term, then cloak it, then manage to rank well for that term myself and point to a page of my own on that topic, is that OK?

    These are some of the many issues involve and which have been debated. We’re far a perfect solution, but to suggest that Google or anyone is getting a free pass simply doesn’t reflect the people really watching this space, the SEOs. The SEO commentary has been fairly consolidated around the fact that BMW got what they deserved, if only because the content cloaking was so old school that it could only survive on a German language site that Google and gang aren’t watching so much.

  27. [...] » Jeremy Zawodny: "I’m officially puzzled by those who are complaining about Google’s treatment of BMW’s SEO techniques. Like anyone else who violates their guidelines, BMW is subject to the consequences. Take, for example, the Google Orwellian story on Publishing 2.0 … Oh, cry me a river!  Google is not some public utility or government service. They can do whatever they want with their search index: make it better, make it worse, censor it, randomize it, or sell printed copies on a street corner. Why? Because it’s their index … The ultimate checks and balances are at work in Google’s case. If its users start to dislike the results they get, they’ll seek out alternatives. Google’s power will diminsh." [...]

  28. Danny, most important — I wasn’t referring to you turning off comments, I was referring to Matt Cutts on his blog post about BMW.

    As for my suggestion that you were being apologist, it strikes me that all this flap is about tone and appearance — all of your points were both valid and informative. And I appreciate your “let me try to shed light on the issue” response vs. Jeremy Zawodny “You’re stupid, shut up” response.

    I understand the problem of bait and switch that Google is battling, but to compare what BMW did to purveyors of child pornography is stretching it a bit.

    I would love to learn more about the history of this debate — you’re right that I’m obligated to do so, having waded in.

    If raising hackles leads more people like you to shed light, I can’t see how that’s not a good thing.

  29. Philly Future was previously banned from Google. I had let the domain drop for a year, after the death of my nephew. A porn spammer took it – and abused it – leading Google to ban it.

    After restarting the service and getting the domain back – it led to a long discovery process to figure out what was wrong and how to get listed again. I kept submitting the site to be indexed to no avail. During this time we lost considerable mindshare among folks watching our space – it was almost as if we didn’t exist.

    One of the hardest problems was determining if we had done something wrong in the first place. The general consensus was we must have. We were assumed guilty by many folks who I discussed this with.

    I sent a few emails that got no reply. Posted to Ask Metafilter – got the advice to give up and get a new domain name. Posted to a Google newsgroup. And then went looking for Google employee bloggers and found one who gave me the info I needed to get unblacklisted. I followed his instructions – which at the time was sending an email with a particular subject line and details in its message. I got an automated response that was maddening and led me to believe it wouldn’t work.

    A week or so later Dan Gillmor raised the issue on his older blog: http://dangillmor.typepad.com/dan_gillmor_on_grassroots/2005/03/google_and_tran.html

    Matt Cutts of Google commented that I had followed the correct procedure and staff looking to approve Philly Future for reindexing.

    Getting unbanned is doable and can be done quickly (as that thread attests a couple weeks). It took me many months due to lack of knowledge. It would have been great if Google provided a service to determine if a domain was blacklisted and to look at websites and review them for appropriate search engine optimization techniques and flag those deemed abuse. I could at least have known then that the trouble wasn’t me. But I didn’t even know I was blacklisted except for the symptoms – not showing up in Google with numerous bloggers pointing to us – and a zero PageRank.

    Matt Cutts has posted about the reinclusion proceedure here: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/reinclusion-request-howto/.

    It sounds like BMW may have brought this on themselves, at a site that large, with their resources, it’s almost inexcusable. Google’s guidelines are pretty clear and simple. However, I would like to see Google have better support for webmasters like those I just suggested. It looks like they are experimenting with some ideas already, see: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/webmaster-communication/ .

    My experience tells me that if you aren’t in Google – you don’t exist. As soon as we got in Google things immediately changed for Philly Future in terms of influence and attention from others who run similar sites.

  30. Thanks for the clarification on the comments issue, Scott. The issue of tone and appearance is also well taken. I’ll give you the reading list in a moment, but that is one of the main issues in this long standing debate. Does it really matter how a searcher got to a page about used BMWs, as long as it is a relevant page. “White hat” SEOers say yes — there are rules, and people should play by them. “Black hat” SEOers would say no — if you aren’t misleading someone about what they’ll ultimately see, it’s not like there’s really a level playing field at all. The key issue in this case probably is that BMW is a big huge brand. Doing something that’s so clearly against the stated search rules isn’t wise from a PR perspective. They could take the black hat stance and say, “So what, we aren’t misleading anyone.” In fact, perhaps they or some other big company will do that. But they really are probably the biggest company to be so publicly slapped like this, while other small companies and individual have endured more. Anyway, http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/060207-093235 that I’ve just posted summarize a ton of stuff on the issue at the end. Hope you find it useful.

  31. Learn how the search enignes work before comparing a mathematical algorithm to Orwellian distopic fantasy. Here is a better way to describe what happened to BMW.

    Google said, “Don’t run red lights when trying to race to the top of the index.”

    BMW failed to stop for the red lights and was penalized for it.

  32. [...] Publishing 2.0: “Google should stop picking on poor BMW” – [...]

  33. [...] Looking for BMW’s German website? You won’t find it on Google (Research). Engineer Matt Cutts describes the move to yank BMW.de as part of an expansion of Google’s war against “webspam,” websites designed to boost their ranking in search engines. BMW’s mistake was showing one version of its website to search engine robots and another to users, a practice Google finds deceptive. Publishing 2.0 calls the move “Orwellian,” while Boing Boing says BMW’s attempt at manipulating search engines was “sleazy.” [...]

  34. You guys are insane, i’m going to “execute” publishing 2.0 from my online sphere.

  35. [...] name, however fleeting) from expecting the same treatment? – Search Engine News by Jenny Halasz | News Link | postCount(‘113933697462854514′); [...]

  36. BMW.de, Google results, and punditry…

    [Google-]Death to spammers! A fate worse than death. No, a fate worse than a fate worse than death. … Well, you get the idea…

  37. Is Google using BMW as a marketing ploy? Absolutely.

    If you were them would you do the same? Probably.

  38. [...] In the firestorm over my article that looked at Google through an Orwellian lens, I heard many apologists argue that Google is not really that powerful because there are plenty of competitors, and because users have the option to switch. This from Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineWatch: Yep, a huge amount of traffic flows through Google. A huge amount also does NOT. Yahoo, MSN and Ask Jeeves are all independent search voices that have a lot of usage. Google is merely one search “newspaper” among them — a big one, but not the only one. [...]

  39. This is an excellent example of Google simply over-reacting, and I personally believe that this will backfire sometime in the future. While the technique of BMW is questionable, it could be seen as trying to fight the spammy webmasters. IF Google were really good, then why had BMW to use cloaking in the first place?
    Also, I would like to see BMW suing Google over Copyright infringement. Huh? Yes, for example, Matt’s blog has a screenshot of the public BMW web site (surely copyright protected!). Or take the images of BMW in the index. All copyright protected.
    Another question is – who needs whom here? If you don’t know that the website of BMW is bmw.de or bmw.com, then good night. If BMW were cool, they simply would sue the hell out of Google and don’t bother with being included in the index.

  40. [...] Even the cool kids are saying things. [...]

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