It doesn’t pay to fool Uncle Google

I’m old enough to remember an ad for a butter-like margarine product whose pitch was “it doesn’t pay to fool mother nature.” The gag was usually in the form of Mom Nat. sitting on a log serenely sitting with bunnies, birdies and other Disney-like characters when she’d dip into a tub of the mock dairy product … only to conjure up angry storms upon discovering she’d been fooled.

Well it looks like BMW may be feeling similarly slammed as all their links to their German websites were pulled after they apparently tried to fool ‘Uncle Google’ with the use of a search engine spammer technique known ‘doorway pages.’ At least that’s how it’s being reported in yesterday’s Financial Times.

BMW rationalized their actions with:

“Marc Hassinger, spokesperson for business and finance communications at BMW Deutschland, said the doorway pages only redirected users to relevant pages – for example, one doorway page that frequently used the German word for “used car” redirected users to a page about BMW used car sales. He said this was done so that German web users searching for a second-hand BMW car dealership would find an index of dealerships around the country.”

Sounds like some of the lame excuses I’d hear from a teen who’s caught in the wrong cabin during a youth retreat. To which I’d often reply with Numbers 32:23:

“… ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.”

In other words BMW thought they were above Google’s clearly stated terms of service and webmaster guidelines. They got caught.

If your church website is playing similar search-engine games, expect similar results.