Search Engine Spam
Search engine spam has been quite a controversial subject recently, as some webmasters fail to comply with search engine regulations against spam. A few webmasters seek to trick a search engine’s pertinent algorithm and even big brands have seen a drop in their rankings or had their sites red flagged. This is the case of the BBC and Interflora both having an SEO penalty applied recently.
All things said, some of the spam techniques also come from the lack of guidelines in the area, or from the subtle difference between satisfactory SEO optimisation implementations and others close to black hat SEO techniques. Furthermore, the lack of enforcement of these regulations by the search engine industry, have led to an acceptance of some black hat SEO for short-term higher positions in the rankings and build of site’s authority.
The penalties applied as a result of not following search engines guidelines vary. The most common one is to have a filter applied, but a website could end up being “red flagged” and included in a watch list, having their ranks reduced, or being removed temporarily/permanently from the search engines all together. Don’t forget that Google, for instance, used to warned webmasters via email, but the appearance of Google webmasters tools means that this is not necessary any more, and the webmaster can track the status of their site.
Google seems to be cracking down hard on Spam:
The Panda Update
Having been released in 2011, Panda updates still bring serious headaches to webmasters and big brands, and have sent the SEO industry into a tailspin. It is all about the content of a website, penalising low quality content and helping websites to reap the rewards of high quality content. The kind of content this update targets is mainly:
- Duplicate content and sites containing mostly advertising. This also includes content scraped from other websites.
- Websites that have not been updated or those which have outdated content,
Therein lies the importance of creating fresh content on an ongoing basis, and those websites will be push higher in the search engine results.
The Penguin Update
The Penguin update entails punishing spam and link networks on an individual page basis. It was also known as the over-optimisation update. This update was mainly brought in order to crack down on sites buying links in order to boost Google rankings.
This particularly affect to sites that have:
- An important number of ads and keyword repetition
- Paid links and the build up of backlinks artificially, especially coming from link networks. This also includes fake blog comments and unnatural anchor text repetition.
It is very important to avoid link spamming if you don’t want to be caught by a Penguin update. Variety is vital, so make sure you use different anchor text as ways of linking to your site. It is also vital to consider not acquiring a large number of links at the same time, as this could be seen as unnatural.
According to Matt Cutts, there is going to be a major penguin update in 2013, which according to his words is going to be very significant for the industry. As far as we know, the latest penguin update was in October 2012. In reference to a Panda update, he confirmed another one around March the 15th, and
revealed the crack down on link networks.
The use of certain website’s techniques, which can be considered spam, and blatant attempts to deceive a search engine’s algorithm are:
- These of text in the same colour as the background page or hidden off the visible page.
- Hidden links in 1×1 pixel images. These images cannot be seen by visitors.
- Doorway pages. Pages designed primarily for search engines and not for visitors, so as they can rank higher for a single keyword or phrase, and then directs users to another page. IP cloaking: Producing different content for search engines than for visitors.
- Paid Links: Links bought or purchased with the intention of boosting your rankings is against Google guidelines.
- Excessive repetition of keywords in the Meta tags, images, or visible text. This is known as keyword stuffing.
- Artificially build up a link network in order to have higher link popularity.
- Java script redirects on mouse over in order to lead visitors from a page created for search engines to another designed for the human visitors.
There are numerous ways of being able to get your website noticed without having to resort to Search Engine Spam. After all, SEO spam will cost you if you plan to have any success in the long term, resulting in having your site banned and disappearing from the search engines.