Learn From Failure: 5 Big Names Penalized By Google

by Lior Levin September 16th, 2011 

It is easy to assume that Google only penalizes small websites. You know the type: a website with nothing but plagiarized content and affiliate links. In reality, however, Google has been known to target even large well-known companies and websites and take them down a notch.

1. BMW


The large price tags on their luxury vehicles could not save BMW from Googles wrath when the companys German website (BMW.de) was found to be guilty of having hidden text and doorway sites filled with keywords in an effort to drive traffic. Google took little time penalizing BMW, deindexing the website within a day of finding out what the developers were attempting to do.

Imagine their surprise when they woke up to find their high-profile website with a Google PageRank of 0. After BMW corrected the problem, Google was just as quick to reinstate its indexed pages.

2. Newsday.com


In 2008, Newsday.com watched its PageRank slip from 8 to 5 after the search giant accused it of selling links that pass PageRank. Google has made it clear that any websites that buy or sell links for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings will lose credibility in its search engine rankings.

Google suggests that paid links on a site should be disclosed with a rel="nofollow" attribute in the link tag or redirect the link through the robots.txt file. Like the BMW incident, Newsdays PageRank quickly returned to 8 after the scandal made headlines.

3. JC Penney


What could a department store possibly do to upset Google? Apparently, it can do plenty. JC Penney apparently used notorious Black Hat SEO techniques to generate link farms that boosted its product pages to the top of search engine results in several categories.

It was the holiday shopping season of 2010, and JC Penney hired an SEO consultant to boost sales. While its initial intentions may have been pure enough, the method did not amuse Google, which punished JC Penny by dropping its product pages down at least a hundred spots in search engine results into relative obscurity.

4. Overstock


In early 2011, Overstock.com was on cloud nine with amazing search engine rankings. Was it because its products magically improved? Was it because its O logo resembled Oprahs logo? No, it was because the company decided to give discounts to college students who linked to its site from .edu domains.

Overstock claimed it was just a innocent advertising ploy to encourage college students to shop on its site, but Google did not buy it. After all, the company encouraged students to link very specific key words like bunk beds and gift baskets to Overstock pages. Furthermore, Googles algorithm specifically trusts .edu domains more than others because of the whole academic credential thing. When Overstocks promotion ended, many of those paid links remained. In response, Google Dropped Overstock to the fifth and sixth pages of search results.

5. Ezinearticles.com


Googles recent algorithm update, Panda 2.0, introduced new standards for content. No longer would sites with loads of low-quality, even nonsensical content be rewarded for junking up the web. Many web users know them as content farms, and many freelance writers churn out cheap $10 and $15 articles for them at alarming rates during these tough economic times.

EzineArticles.com is just one of many content farms that are now feeling the effects of Googles plans to demote them from content supremacy. Simply having a lot of content is no longer enough. Some companies like Demand Studios (publishers of ehow.com and others) have been rather vocal about their efforts to improve content quality and dissociate themselves with the word content farm, but that will take a tremendous overall of current content to have any effect.

You are Not Alone

If you have your own website or blog and have been feeling the heat from Googles strict regulations and PageRank rules, you are not alone. Even large corporations have managed to anger Google. It just takes a little extra research, careful planning, and fair play to get your site back to where you want it.

Lior Levin

Lior Levin works with apsd to html service company.

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5 Responses to “Learn From Failure: 5 Big Names Penalized By Google”

  1. It's good to see the big guys pay the price, after all, they have the big budgets and the staff to make things happen and the little guys have to compete against them. And its so interesting to see that they all used tactics that Google repeatedly warns us against using. Shame on them.

  2. Thomas says:

    BMW had to have some dumb SEO people to think they can get away with something like that. At least the other big names on the list were slightly smarter. Overstock actually had a good idea but they took it one step too far with that tactic. They should have left it at getting the students to link to the site and not request them to use specific key words. But because these are big brands, they pretty much all saw their rankings come back fairly quickly.

  3. Hendrik says:

    The Overstock Idea is fantastic. Yes, they took it a little too far but the idea behind it is really really good.

    Loving it and thinking about ways to do the same…



  4. This article made me really happy! That may sound a little evil, but it's a real reassurance to see that google really does play fair. I've gotten the feeling that big corporations pick on the little guys more than once, so it's nice to see the big dogs taking a punch or two every now and then!