SEO

SEO: This is how it works with legally watertight content



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A top ranking with search engines: That is the goal of search engine optimization. Everything is geared towards improving the keywords – and it is often overlooked that legal requirements must also be taken into account.

For online retailers and shop operators, they are one of the decisive factors for success: the so-called “Rich Snippets” from Google, which show short excerpts from website content. Website operators have the chance to stand out with content that is particularly relevant and that matches the user’s query. It therefore makes sense to advertise there with the top keywords and popular or sensational features. But: Exaggerated promises and advertising exaggerations can quickly become expensive.

As a rule, search engines display the text in the rich snippet that is stored in the meta description of the target page. However, there is no guarantee that this text will be displayed in full or in part. Depending on the search query or search intention, Google and Co. may not play the meta description, but other text from the page that, from the search engine’s point of view, fits the search query better. Nevertheless, the meta-information and the content should be carefully created and checked from a legal perspective.

Product features

An example: Tesla advertises the product features of its vehicles on its websites. And it makes it into Google’s Featured Snippets several times (see figure on the next page). But that could change because Tesla has exaggerated the product features of its “autopilot”. At least that’s what the competition headquarters thinks and has warned the carmaker for being misled. This consists in creating the impression that the advertised vehicles can and should drive autonomously until the end of 2019.

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Not everything that does well in the featured or rich snippet is legally permissible. Tesla has aroused misconceptions among customers with regard to the legal approval and functionality of the autopilot and autonomous and automated driving – and will have to improve. The competition headquarters warned Tesla because the impression was given that the advertised vehicles could and should drive autonomously until the end of 2019. (Screenshots: Google)

The Munich Regional Court has now checked whether Tesla’s advertising for driver assistance systems is misleading. Problematic are, for example, the description of the product properties, which may actually exist but cannot be used by the user. The featured snippet says: “The autopilot functionality enables the vehicle to automatically steer, accelerate and brake in its lane.” Only in Germany, assistance-based driving is not yet possible to this extent because it is not legally regulated. With the advertised “automatic driving in urban areas”, Tesla is making a promise that it cannot keep here. Because this function has not yet been approved for use on the road either. Tesla therefore arouses misconceptions among customers with regard to the legal approval and functionality of the autopilot and autonomous and automated driving. And because the court followed the arguments of the competition headquarters, these product properties are misleading and therefore inadmissible and will certainly no longer be seen in the rich snippet in the future.

Not everything that does well in the featured or rich snippet is therefore legally permissible. In order to avoid being misled, product features must not be shortened or exaggerated.

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