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Search Engine Spam: Useful Knowledge for the Web Site Promoter
Article by David Gikandi Photo/Credit
Before getting started on using gateway pages and other HTML techniques
to improve your search engine ranking, you need to know a little about
spam and spamdexing. Spamming the search engines (or spamdexing) is the
practice of using unethical or unprofessional techniques to try to improve
search engine rankings. You should be aware of what constitutes spamming
so as to avoid trouble with the search engines. For example, if you have
a page with a white background, and you have a table that has a blue
background and white text in it, you are actually spamming the Infoseek
engine without even knowing it! Infoseek will see white text and see a
white page background, concluding that your background color and your page
color are the same so you are spamming! It will not be able to tell that
the white text is actually within a blue table and is perfectly legible.
It is silly, but that will cause that page to be dropped off the index.
You can get it back on by changing the text color in the table to, say,
a light gray and resubmitting the page to Infoseek. See what a difference
that makes? Yet you had no idea that your page was considered spam!
Generally, it is very easy to know what not to do so as to avoid being
labeled a spammer and having your pages or your site penalized.
By following a few simple rules, you can safely improve your search engine
rankings without unknowingly spamming the engines and getting penalized
What constitutes spam?
Some techniques are clearly considered as an attempt to spam the engines.
Where possible, you should avoid these:
Keyword stuffing. This is the repeated use of a word to increase its
frequency on a page. Search engines now have the ability to analyze a page
and determine whether the frequency is above a "normal" level
in proportion to the rest of the words in the document.
Invisible text. Some webmasters stuff keywords at the bottom of a page and
make their text color the same as that of the page background. This is
also detectable by the engines.
Tiny text. Same as invisible text but with tiny, illegible text.
Page redirects. Some engines, especially Infoseek, do not like pages that
take the user to another page without his or her intervention, e.g. using
Meta tags stuffing. Do not repeat your keywords in the Meta tags more than
once, and do not use keywords that are unrelated to your site's content.
Never use keywords that do not apply to your site's content.
Do not create too many doorways with very similar keywords.
Do not submit the same page more than once on the same day to the same
Do not submit virtually identical pages, i.e. do not simply duplicate a web
page, give the copies different file names, and submit them all. That will be interpreted as an attempt to flood the engine.
Code swapping. Do not optimize a page for top ranking, then swap another
page in its place once a top ranking is achieved.
Do not submit doorways to submission directories like Yahoo!
Do not submit more than the allowed number of pages per engine per day or
week. Each engine has a limit on how many pages you can manually submit
to it using its online forms.
Currently these are the limits: AltaVista 1-10 pages per day;
HotBot 50 pages per day; Excite 25 pages per week;
Infoseek 50 pages per day but unlimited when using e-mail submissions.
Please note that this is not the total number of pages that can be indexed,
it is just the total number that can be submitted. If you can only submit
25 pages to Excite, for example, and you have a 1000 page site, that's
no problem. The search engine will come crawling your site and index all
pages, including those that you did not submit.
There are certain practices that can be considered spam by the search
engine when they are actually just part of honest web site design.
For example, Infoseek does not index any page with a fast page refresh.
Yet, refresh tags are commonly used by web site designers to produce
visual effects or to take people to a new location of a page that has
been moved. Also, some engines look at the text color and background
color and if they match, that page is considered spam. But you could
have a page with a white background and a black table somewhere with
white text in it. Although perfectly legible and legitimate, that page
will be ignored by some engines. Another example is that Infoseek advises
against (but does not seem to drop from the index) having many pages with
links to one page. Even though this is meant to discourage spammers,
it also places many legitimate webmasters in the spam region (almost
anyone with a large web site or a web site with an online forum always
has their pages linking back to the home page).
These are just a few examples of gray areas in this business.
Fortunately, because the search engine people know that they exist,
they will not penalize your entire site just because of them.
What are the penalties for spamdexing?
There is an inappropriate amount of fear over the penalties of spamming.
Many webmasters fear that they may spam the engines without their
knowledge and then have their entire site banned from the engines forever.
That just doesn't happen that easily! The people who run the search
engines know that you can be a perfectly legitimate and honest web site
owner who, because of the nature of your web site, has pages that appear
to be spam to the engine. They know that their search engines are not
smart enough to know exactly who is spamming and who happens to be
in the spam zone by mistake. So they do not generally ban your entire
site from their search engine just because some of your pages look like
spam. They only penalize the rankings of the offending pages.
Any non-offending page is not penalized. Only in the most extreme cases
, where you aggressively spam them and go against the recommendations
above, flooding their engine with spam pages, will they ban your entire
site. Some engines, like HotBot, do not even have a lifetime ban policy
on spammers. As long as you are not an intentional and aggressive spammer,
you should not worry about your entire site being penalized or banned from
the engines. Only the offending pages will have their ranking penalized.
Is there room for responsible search engine positioning?
Yes! Definitely! In fact, the search engines do not discourage responsible
search engine positioning. Responsible search engine position is good for
everybody - it helps the users find the sites they are looking for,
it helps the engines do a better job of delivering relevant results,
and it gets you the traffic you want!
As a webmaster, you should not be too afraid that you are spamming the
search engines in your quest for higher search engine rankings.
No question about it, though, spam is something that every webmaster
should understand thoroughly. Fortunately, it is easy to understand it.
So learn the rules, re-examine your web pages, resubmit to the engines,
then create gateway pages to get better ranking on the engines, using the
rules above. If you need any more information on search engine spamming
and search engine positioning, see http://www.searchpositioning.com.
I wish you the best of fortune in your web promotional efforts!
Positioning is 95% of your business!
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