Search Engine Spam
So what if you site can be indexed but the search engines decide not to include your site in their index.
There are various techniques that can get your site delisted (banned) from the search engines and they’re all labeled “search engine spam.”
Search engines do not like spam or site owners who try to spam their results. Search engine users do not like finding spam in their search results.
What Is Spam?
Spam is the use of a technique to artificially improve the ranking of a web site. The techniques are generally classified into two groupings:
1. Onsite spamming techniques
2. Offsite spamming techniques
Both of these types of techniques will be covered in further detail later.
Most spam problems come about because:
• The site owner didn’t know a specific technique would get their site banned.
• The site owner was trying to do something for their visitors but didn’t follow search engine guidelines.
• The site owner attempted to use legitimate optimization but took it too far. Some techniques work fine in moderation but when used in excess these techniques can cause issues.
• The site owner employed an optimization company that doesn’t follow the search engine guidelines explained on the following two pages.
• The methods to get a site ranked change constantly. Be aware – what was once a great SEO technique can today get your site banned.
Webmaster Guidelines Include Spam Warnings
Most search engines provide webmaster guidelines to help site owners develop a site suitable for the search engines. You should read, understand, and follow these guidelines:
Basically, the guidelines state:
• Write your content for your human visitors, not for spiders.
• Ensure you don’t stop the spiders from indexing your site.
• Don’t spam.
If you get caught violating the search engine guidelines, your site is likely to be banned. If your site has been banned, the individual search engines handle how they remove the ban in different ways.
However, they have some things in common and request you take the following actions:
• Remove the issue – You’re not going to get re-included if the spam is still on the site. No search engine will tell you the reason why you got banned; therefore, make sure your site is cleaner than clean before requesting re-inclusion.
• Request Re-inclusion – Get down on your knees and beg forgiveness from the search engines for violating their terms of service. Promise to be a good web site owner in future. Most search engines provide re-inclusion request forms for this purpose.
• Wait – Usually for a long time. Generally, re-inclusion requests take three to six months minimum, sometimes longer, to be resolved. This, of course, depends on the degree of violation. Sometimes your site will never get back in the search engine index and you will need to abandon the domain and start again.
Onsite Spamming Techniques what not to do or you can be banned from Search Engines
Doorway Pages. This used to be a favorite technique to get sites ranked higher. A doorway page is a page designed to rank well with the search engines. Generally, it looks terrible, usually contains no text of note, and it exists purely to rank well in the search engines. When a visitor lands on the page they get redirected to the correct page within the site.
Cloaking. Similar to doorway pages except that the site detects if a spider is reading the page and displays the doorway page; when a visitor arrives, they view a different page.
Hidden Text. Hidden text is text that is the same color as the background, is font size 1, or has an x,y coordinate that stops it from being displayed by the browser. Hidden text is text that the average visitor will not be able to view but spiders can traverse. As these techniques can be used to hide text from the average user, they have often been used to spam the search engines.
Automated Content Generation. Automatically generating near-duplicate content can be reason for a search engine to ban a site.
Keyword Stuffing. Keyword stuffing is the technique of inserting the keyword you want a page to be found for multiple times on the page, especially when it’s in places the average visitor will not see, such as in image ALT tags.
Offsite Spamming Techniques what not to do or you can be banned from Search Engines
Most offsite spamming falls into link spamming and is covered in the Linking section.
Reciprocal Links. This is where two sites agree to swap links. This is not an issue on a small scale, but make sure you remain within your site’s theme and related themes. If you link outside of your theme, then the search engines may ask questions. Generally, sites won’t get banned for this technique but the links are devalued to the point of being worthless.
Link Triangulation. This is where three or more sites agree to swap links. They link in a circle (site A to site B, B to C, and C to A). This is seen as a deliberate attempt to spam the search engines and, when you are caught, can get you immediately banned.
Paid Links. This is where one site pays another to host a link to the site. Generally, this does not result in bans but can result in penalties.
Bad Neighborhoods. Linking to bad neighborhoods, including sites that are already banned, can also be seen as an issue by search engines.
Long Term vs. Short Term?
Most companies expect to keep their domains for a long time and want to build their domain’s reputation and their brand. Therefore, spam techniques should be avoided.
Some people’s method of promotion is to “pump and dump” their web sites – spam their way to the top of the rankings and dump their site when it gets caught. For these people, getting banned and having to start again is the cost of doing business.