Review your web site to ensure that you are not spamming search engines and risking your site being banned.

Most people know that spamming search engines is bad. There are many variations on the definition of search engine spam. Simply put, it the process of trying to mislead a search engine spider into thinking that a web site is relevant or more relevant to search phrases than is actually is.

Unfortunately, many web site owners are promoting the use of spam to gain visibility on search engines. Even worse, there are search engine optimisation (SEO) agencies promoting the use of spam for their clients – at the risk of the client’s site being banned and disappearing from search engine results completely.

Spammers will argue over what is and is not spam. It is best to remember that any attempt to deceive search engine spiders, directory editors and your visitors should be avoided at all times. Also remember, that if a spam technique is driving search engine traffic to your site now, it is 99% certain that the search engines will soon realise and will drop your site from being ranked at all – and in worst cases will ban your site indefinitely.

Today’s major search engines are sophisticated and are able to detect spam even before it has a chance to enter their index. If spam is detected, a site will not even be indexed by the engine, and if the search engine considers the spam to be severe then it will be banned completely. Regaining the opportunity to be indexed may take several months. In some cases, a new web site domain will need to be setup as the penalised site will never get a chance to be indexed again.

Optimising Your Site

The most popular engines such as Google, work extremely hard in keeping their spam filters updated to combat spam techniques. They pay development teams to continuously find ways of eliminating spam site from search results. After all, they pride themselves in providing the most relevant information to their searchers.

When designing, writing, optimising and submitting your site – always try to remember general internet and search engine ethics. If you are using a professional and trustworthy SEO agency, they will ensure any site optimisation activity abides by the rules provided by the industry and search engines themselves. If you are concerned about whether your site may be accidentally using spam techniques, a good SEO agency will also offer to audit your site free of charge.

The bottom line is – implementing ethical search engine marketing practices will deliver long term qualified traffic. Spam techniques may give you traffic today, but tomorrow your rankings will drop or your site will be black listed.

Examples Of Spam

If you follow these guidelines during your search engine optimisation campaign this should keep you outside the boundary of what is considered spam and will avoid you doing things that will be or will become detrimental to your rankings. If you are using a search engine optimisation agency, it is advisable before parting with any money that the agency full understands and follows guidelines and is committed to best practice ethical techniques.

Over Submitting – contrary to belief, submitting your web site again and again will not increase your chances of high rankings. In some cases, you will not need to submit your site at all. After major changes to a web site, it is important to re-submit your site, however, as a general rule you should only need to submit your web site once. It is possible for you to over submit resulting in your submissions being ignored.

Keyword Stuffing – do not put keywords in every tag and area of your pages content that keywords can be used. Legitimately, tags such as ALT tags and TITLE tags can and do contain descriptive phrases and may contain keyword phrases if they apply to the description of the link or image. Sometimes, this might boost your keyword relevancy if it is done with caution. However, this practice can be abused — if something doesn’t belong, don’t do it.

Repeated Words – do not repeat words over and over again. Be creative about your copy writing and use targeted keywords as a phrase a few times throughout the page. In the rest of your content, use keywords as separate terms, plural and singular. If you want to be ranked for ‘cottages in cornwall’, do not keep repeating this phrase.

Duplicate Pages – duplicate pages with the same design, layout, navigation and content, either on the same domain or different domains, can be detected and will be considered spam.

Hidden Or Invisible Text – Do not hide text, links or images with text that is the same colour or similar colour as the background of the page.

Tiny Text – Do not use text that is impossible to read.

Spider Only Pages – do not create pages with the sole intention of gaining a search engine ranking without providing any useful, quality content, your products/services to visitors. If a visitor would have no use for a page, do not attempt to use it.

Doorway Pages – doorway pages are defined as a standalone page that is not a part of your main web site. The page is not accessible from the main site and is created for search engines only. If the page was not created to be a “part” of the site, don’t use it.

Unrelated Meta Tags – always be sure that your title, description and keyword meta tags are relevant to the content of the page that they are on.

Redirect Pages/Meta Refresh – do not use redirect or meta refresh on your pages.

Cloaking – cloaking is the process of presenting one page to search engine spiders while visitors see an entirely different page. Many SEO’s will present a lot of argument over why this practice is okay to use — the only thing that is important to me is that it is used more often than not as a spam technique and is viewed as SPAM by search engines.

Link Exchange Programs & Link Farms – It is important to the publicity and visibility of your web site that you have text links and banners on other web sites that are relevant to your general target market. The more you can publicize your site, the better for search engines and overall marketing success. However, there are sites, programs and software that have figured out a way to deceive search engine rankings by with deceptive “Link Exchange Programs”. Before getting involved with any program such as this, you should seriously consider seeking the assistance of a qualified search engine positioning company who practices ethical search engine marketing guidelines. Getting involved with the wrong link exchange program could seriously harm the success of your web site.

FFA Pages – also known as ‘Free For All’ link pages, these pages include tons of links that have no rhyme or reason. These pages are not created to benefit any one specific area of a general market and are not useful to anyone. Avoid being linked from these pages and NEVER add a link from your web site TO these pages. AND, NEVER, EVER host a page of links like this on your site.

Using Automated Software to Submit – submitting by hand to the major search engines should be the only way that your pages are submitted. Using software programs that claim to submit to hundreds of web sites will do nothing but add your site to hundreds of FFA pages, add tons of junk mail to your inbox and overload major engines submission databases.

Machine Generated Pages – There are programs out there that will generate ‘optimised’ pages for you. Don’t use them.

If you have any doubt about the techniques your site is currently using, consider seeking the opinion of a search engine optimisation agency that uses ethical techniques.

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About the author:

Phil Robinson is an online marketing consultant with over 17 years experience in marketing planning, internet strategy and online acquisition. In 2004, Phil founded ClickThrough, an ethical search marketing agency. He gives best practice training for businesses, runs seminars and writes books on digital marketing.