France – Abusive SEO Tactics – A Beer Story

SaveurBière.com has been sentenced and fined a 10000euro fine by the Cour d’Appel de Douai, France (court of appeals of Douai) for abusive SEO tactics & techniques. Google did not think those techniques were outside its guidelines…

The story

2007, Julien Lemarchand bought Saveur Bière.com domain name – as well as fifty odd related domain names (misterbiere.com, esprit-biere.com, couleur-biere.com…). Each domain name had a unique page with unique content. Julien’s goal was to capture Google’s – and other search engines of course Sealed – attention around the keyword ‘biere’, and rank on top for all keyword variations on the SERPs via his chain of unique websites. Lemarchand ultimate goal was to launch a beer dedicated e-commerce website which he eventually did with Saveur Bière.com.

The issue came from his website selectionbiere.com. The owner of selection-biere.com thought Lemarchand’s website was too close to hers and lodged a legal complaint against Lemarchand back in 2008. Then, Julien was sentenced and he got rid of most of his websites and by consequence stop his ‘illegal SEO tactics’.

Yet, since the likes of Google never told him he did wrong nor penalized him, Lemarchand decided to appeal against the tribunal’s decision.

The Court of Appeals of Douai decided to dismiss him and fine him 10 000euros. The Judge said: ” buying so many domain names repeating extensively the keyword ‘biere’ and working at developing links directing towards those websites resulting being on top of search engines results, Julien Lemarchand and SARL Saveur Biere practiced unfair competition practices preventing Celine S ( selection-biere.com ) from getting visitors on her website”.

This is a school case which is now a precedent in terms of SEO techniques and practices in France and perhaps Europe?

Christophe Bernigaud

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