Part IV: Marketing your Website

Search Engine Optimization and Spam - SEO Dos and Don'ts

by Pauline Sugarman

In the next section we’ll discuss what Spamming the Search Engines entails and why it can be so detrimental to your website success.

While I have referred to this section as SEO Dos and Don'ts, it really is about the Don'ts of search engine optimization.  Google will not hesitate to boot someone from their search engine, as witnessed recently with the banning of BMW's German website.

Most of us know what it means to be spammed when we talk about all that junk mail that comes to our email address. But what is SPAM when we are talking about web sites? And how does it affect our ranking in the search engines?

What is Search Engine Spam?

With the growth of the internet, came the development of search engines, such as Google. As more people used the search engines to find what they were looking for, it became apparent that getting found towards the top of the search results could mean big business and big profits.

Enter spamming.

Spamming is any attempt to deceive a search engine’s relevancy algorithm. In other words, it refers to the deceptive practices employed for the sole purpose of obtaining higher rankings in the search engines. These techniques rarely benefit anyone other than the website owner (and the companies selling the spamming techniques) as they do not enhance the quality of the information available or the public’s experience on the website.

If you are using a particular technique whose sole purpose to obtain high rankings, you have journeyed into the realm of Spam and run the risk of being penalized. If you creating elements on your page for visitors to see and separate elements that are only visible to search engines to see than you are spamming. Google, and the other search engines, may decide to boot you out of their database and good luck getting back into their good graces.

So let’s discuss some of the more prevalent techniques of spamming.

Text Spamming – Hidden Text

When search engine’s first became available on the web, it didn’t take long for web site developers to realize that the search engine’s were creating their search results based on the web pages that best matched the key words used in the search query. They found that the pages that used the key words the most were ending up at the top of the results.

Keyword Stuffing
So, they decided that they would find ways to stuff the key words onto the page. Of course they still wanted to page to look nice to the end user, so they had to make the stuffed key words invisible. This is referred to as Keyword Stuffing.

One technique is to make your text the same color as the background of your web page. That way the user can’t see the words but the search engine will still “read” them.

Another technique is to make the text so tiny that you can’t read it, but the search engines can.

Tag Stuffing
Another practice is to create a transparent gif image (invisible to the eye) and use the image’s Alt Tag to as place to stuff key words. This is called Tag Stuffing.

Link Spamming – Hidden Links and Link Farms
With the rise of importance given to links, spammers have devised ways to boost their link quantities.

One link spamming practice is to create a Link Farm. A link farm is a network of pages at different web sites that all link back to each other for the sole purpose of creating as many links as possible. Many times the connected sites are not related in content, and the links are stuffed with key words, making them incoherent to an actual user.

If the link is not designed to be followed by humans, or the page it is on is not designed to be read by humans, than it is spam.

Another technique for link spamming is to hide the link by creating an invisible image and using it to link somewhere else. The visitor won’t see the link because it is invisible, but he search engine can “read” and follow the link. This form of spam is called a Hidden Link.

Duplicate sites

Duplicate sites or Sister Sites are considered spam by the search engines because they clog the web with unnecessary repetitive information. If you wish to create more than one site, make sure the information on each site is unique.


Cloaking refers to the technique of creating one web site that is viewed by the user and an entirely separate web site that the search engines see. It is done to create a web site that will influence search engine relevancy. It is also used to hide illegal practices such as copyright infringement.

Summary - Spamming the Search Engines

The best way to create long-term success on the internet is to create a website that is filled with the best content you can create. Good, useful content is the most important factor in all algorithms employed by the search engines. And create relevant links from other well ranked, content related sites. After all, each search engine is looking for the best websites (most informative) to return for their search results.

Many web designers still think that they can get away with some form of spamming. There are also companies that will tell you they specialize in getting you highly ranked, but when pressed will divulge that they include the use of spamming techniques.

If either offers to get you highly ranked, ask them if their techniques include any of the ones discussed above. If they answer yes, thank them for their offer and think about looking elsewhere for assistance with your web site.

Success on the internet takes time and energy. Short cuts such as spamming, may be bring short-term success, but damage your abilities to succeed on the web in the long run.

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