Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

BMW’s bad design = bad SEO

BMW’s German site has been kicked off Google for breaching its webmaster guidelines. There’s more detail from Matt Cutts (a Google employee) and Google Blogoscoped.
I don’t have an awful lot of sympathy for BMW here. What they did was clearly against Google’s guidelines. But it would also have been completely unnecessary had they actually designed their site properly.
BMW Germany makes gratuitous use of JavaScript and frames, tecnhologies which Google’s GoogleBot doesn’t understand well. The result of this is that BMW’s site will not do well in search engine rankings because the GoogleBot cannot crawl and understand its content very well. So, BMW did some black-hat SEO to compensate for it and ended up falling foul of the guidelines.
Had BMW not used these technologies, or used JavaScript in a way that gracefully degrades for those not using it, this situation would never have happened. Furthermore, it would have improved the accessibility of the page for users with disabilities as well.
BMW have made some changes to comply with Google’s guidelines but they have not fixed the root cause of the problem, which is the design of the site. Once that is done, BMW should be able to enjoy high search engine rankings without having to resort to dark arts.


  1. Their PageRank has also been stripped. But with all these high pageranking blogs linking to the site, I’m sure that won’t take time to build back up again.
    I’ve never bothered with SEO, and I doubt you have either. It’s all about good content often, and quality links in (which is based upon your content, again!)…

  2. Kicking BMW out made the headlines for a day but then Google let them in. It perhaps used the incident to make a point but I wonder whether BMW’s adspend with Google also had an influence?

    Many visitors in February because of this incident as we can see …

  4. Theres many websites doing Black Hat SEO, mainly cloaking and deceptive redirects, even top companies are at it, becuase the competition is so fierce, and because of the complexity of possible search strings – eg buy shoes – buy shoes online – purchase leather shoes – etc etc
    Black is is growing at a remarkable rate.

  5. You can now download a Black Hat SEO e Book. It goes into depth about Black Hat SEO, vs White Hat SEo, and also explains Grey Hat SEO and Googlebowling.
    Black Hat SEO

  6. And we all know who was responsible for this dont we ;). the very same company that appears as #1 in Google for “search engine optimisation” LOL

  7. I wonder whether BMW’s adspend with Google also had an influence?

  8. Tell BMW they need to check out
    They designed my site and it is search engine friendly.