Remember the chastening of JC Penney, Overstock and by Google? Well, now it is Hugo Boss who beeped under Google's spam scanner. The German fashion giant was caught, redirecting and cloaking, using doorway pages, a black hat SEO act forbidden by Google and other search engines. It seems like the Google spam hunters are enjoying an open season and successfully getting big g(n)ames inside their crosshair.

For those who are not so familiar with the above mentioned SEO act, considered black hat, let me put it this way – a website publishes tricky doorway pages on its domain which are only visible to search engines while common visitors/users are redirected to another page. Doorway pages rank very high in search engines for popular keywords. In this case, Hugo Boss has a flash website, which has a good deal of relevant content that can land them in a fair position in a search result. However, they chose to adopt the sneaky redirection and cloaking method.

Secretswede's Hesam Lavi, a former Google member who posted about the Hugo Boss spam story says that you can see the doorways by doing a site search in Google. However, you must switch off JavaScript in your browser in order to prevent the redirection. Below are the different pages the common visitor and Googlebot see when visiting the same URL:

Here are some hidden links to the doorway pages via the no-script tag:

This has been considered absolutely unnecessary by various experts, recur that, given that Hugo Boss is an already established and acclaimed name with an international brand authority and a website with good (just that it has flash files) content. Instead of redirecting and cloaking, and incurring the Google wrath, “it could have been done by just 301 redirecting the pages to the ones they are showing the user and that page would rank where the spidered page does.” says Frank Watson from serachenginewatch.

This is a good reminder to webmasters and SEOs that no trick remains hidden forever, for big G's watching. The case of Hugo Boss could have been a deliberate or an ignorant SEO's act, but either ways, they now have to rebuild from the ground. Frank also says, “SEOs are being hired now to do research to out sites for work they may have done in the past for other sites. What tricks were used in the past that now can be outed to other clients? Some of this stuff was done when not breaking rules.” This is indeed interesting, I wonder who's next on the takedown list?


Navneet Kaushal is the Editor-in-Chief of PageTraffic Buzz. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet is also the CEO of SEO Services company PageTraffic which is one of the leading search marketing company in Asia.