Is Your Site Spamming the Search Engines?

    July 23, 2004

Spamming the search engines can cause your site to be banned and dropped from their indices. To help webmasters understand the rules of search engine etiquette the search engines have established quality guidelines that explain the majority of their rules about spam. By simply following these guidelines your site can remain in the search engines.

Avoid hidden text or hidden links.

Hidden text can be placed in web pages by using the following means:

  • Cascading Style Sheets
  • Making your text appear with the same color as your background color
  • Or, shades slightly different than the background color
  • Hidden links can be placed in web pages by using the following additional means:

  • 1 x 1 pixel images
  • Images with the same color as the web page background color
  • Images with shades slightly different than the background color
  • Don’t use cloaking or sneaky redirects.

    Cloaking is delivering pages designed for the search engines while providing people with different results. Most of the time this is hard to detect, but professional search engine placement companies can help detect these situations. So, how do you tell? In some engines this is hard to detect, but because Google caches the pages they visit it has become much easier to detect these situations.

    There are other means of achieving the desired affects. Some people use robots.txt files restrict search engine access to files and directories. This process is used to deliver pages to the various search engines based upon their preferences. This is just as hard to catch, but a professional search engine optimization company can detect these issues.

    Don’t send automated queries to the search engines.

    Although this is questionable, some search engine optimization companies still perform this activity with tools such as WebPosition Gold. Because they have so many clients it makes more sense to utilize these tools. WebPosition Gold performs the searches without sending any information to the search engines that would identify the web site you’re researching. Additionally, because your IP address is typically not the same as your web site, there is virtually no way that the search engines can know. Therefore, there is no real way they can ban your site for this behavior.

    Don’t load pages with irrelevant words.

    Interestingly enough, there are search engine optimization companies that serve up pages for their clients with irrelevant keywords simply to attract traffic. This behavior doesn’t improve your sales because you’re not selling or providing the information or services the visitors seek.

    Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.

    This is really simple to understand. Don’t means do not do it. This is one of the most obvious forms of search engine spam available. Now, you may be saying that the Apple Pie Shopping Cart fails to comply with this requirement. Fortunately, we have precautions set up that prevent this from becoming an issue.

    Because of the nature of the Internet and sharing information, we sometimes have articles published on multiple sites while having them published on our site. Although this can become an issue, we can consider the aspect that at least one of those pages will remain indexed and linked to your site. Then we have the consideration that as others find the multitude of pages with your article people will find your site and possibly purchase your services or products.

    Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.

    Doorway pages are pages designed to work well in the search engines that then link to an item or other content on your site. Typically these pages are focused upon a single keyword or keyword phrase. Many search engine optimization companies build these pages and submit them to the search engines as a means of attracting traffic to your web site.

    Affiliate programs can be detrimental depending upon the type of setup the originating site uses. As with the duplicate content issue discussed above, certain affiliate programs provide the same pages to affiliates with substantially duplicate content in hopes of increasing the link popularity of your product pages. Unfortunately not all site owners pay attention to the guidelines established by the search engines regarding spam. Therefore, they run the risk of having their pages and possibly even site banned by the search engines.

    Affiliate programs that provide links into your site directly are the best way to run an affiliate program. If this were not the case affiliate vendor programs like Commission Junction would not exist. And to top that theory, Amazon would not have over 8,000,000 links to their site selling their products. With enough work and management skills your site could acquire a strong level of links coming to your site.

    The Bottom-Line

    Failing to follow these simple guidelines can and will get your site banned from the search engines. Being banned from the search engines is a valuable, though costly less to learn. Don’t be foolish and let this happen to your site. Contact a professional search engine placement company that follows these guidelines of simply contact me for assistance or a recommendation.

    Lee Roberts President/CEO of Rose Rock Design, Inc. and owner/developer of the Apple
    Pie Shopping Cart
    the search engine friendly shopping cart.