Google Bans and Buries Web Sites: 6 Search Engine Showdowns

When it comes to Google, you'd better not try any mischief.

The Internet giant has very specific guidelines for Web sites that want to be found with its search engine. But when those sites don't comply, it isn't long before they get a slap on the wrist or worse.

"If a site has been penalized, it may no longer show up in results on Google.com or on any of Google's partner sites," Google says on a page devoted to Webmaster guidelines.

And don't think they aren't serious. Web sites belonging to corporations, individuals and political campaigns have been buried or banned altogether because of tactics that game or disrupt Google's system.

Hutchison's Campaign Site Gets the Boot

In the latest search engine showdown, Google blocked the Web site of Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's gubernatorial campaign last week after it found hidden text in the Web site's source code.

To the average visitor, www.standbykay.com looked like any other political site. But those who could pull back the layers of the Web found something else.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, the source code for the site included more than 2,200 hidden phrases, including word combinations with Hutchison's name and Rick Perry, the name of the incumbent. The newspaper said it also included the phrase "rick perry gay."

A spokesman for Hutchison's campaign told ABCNews.com that its Web technology company, ElectionMall Technologies was informed by Google last week that the site had violated its guidelines. He also said that they had dismissed the firm.

When contacted by ABCNews.com, ElectionMall declined to give a comment.

The URL standbykay.com has been discontinued and directs to texansforkay.com. But when it was still alive, aides for the senator said the phrases were computer-generated based on campaign-related terms that Internet users would likely search for and were intended to help target online banner advertising, the Statesman reported.

But hiding text in source code is a giant Google no-no.

Violating Google Guidelines Results in Removal

"Google did take action on this site for hidden text. Hidden text is a violation of our quality guidelines," a company spokesman said in a statement, adding that it had removed the site from its index.

But Hutchison's campaign site isn't the only one to have found itself on the wrong side of Google. Here are five other sites that have been banned or buried.

BMW Germany Blocked for Deceptive Practices

In February 2006, Google gave BMW Germany the Internet kiss of death when it discovered that the car company was presenting different content to visitors to its site than it was to the search engines.

"That's a violation of our webmaster quality guidelines, specifically the principle of 'Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users,'" Matt Cutts, the head of Google's Web spam team, wrote on his blog at the time.

Although the Web site might give ordinary visitors a page chock-full of brand new Beemers, search engines would see a page of search-friendly text.

Google reduced BMW's page rank to zero, which meant that when Internet users searched "BMW," it would no longer appear at the top of the page.

According to the BBC, a BMW spokesman acknowledged at the time that the company used so-called doorway pages, which are large sets of search-engine optimized pages intended to boost a site's search rank.

But the spokesman denied misleading users.

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