SEO Spam

SEO Spam

Spam,​ in​ almost any form,​ is​ bad for your health. the​ vast majority of​ web users would agree with that statement and nobody would even think of​ the​ finely processed luncheon meat-product made by Hormel. Even the​ word itself is​ infectious in​ all the​ worst ways,​ being used to​ describe the​ dark-side and often deceptive side of​ everything from email marketing to​ abusive forum behaviour. in​ the​ search engine optimization field,​ spam is​ used to​ describe techniques and tactics thought to​ be banned by search engines or​ to​ be unethical business practices.

While writing copy for our soon to​ be revised website,​ the​ team put together a​ short list of​ the​ most outrageous forms of​ spam we had seen in​ the​ last year and a​ short explanation of​ the​ technique.

Please note,​ we do not encourage,​ endorse or​ suggest the​ use of​ any of​ the​ techniques listed here. We don't use them and our clients' sites continue to​ rank well at​ Google,​ Yahoo,​ MSN and Ask. Also,​ since Google has been the​ dominant search engine for almost five years,​ most of​ the​ spammy tricks evolved in​ order to​ game Google and might not apply to​ the​ other engines.

1. Cloaking
Also known as​ "stealth",​ cloaking is​ a​ technique that involves serving one set of​ information to​ known search engine spiders while displaying a​ different set of​ information on​ documents viewed by clients. While there are unique situations in​ which the​ use of​ cloaking might be considered ethical in​ the​ day-to-day practice of​ SEO,​ cloaking is​ never required. This is​ especially true after the​ Jagger algorithm update at​ Google,​ which uses document and link histories as​ important ranking factors.

2. IP Delivery
IP delivery is​ a​ simple form of​ cloaking in​ which a​ unique set of​ information is​ served based on​ the​ IP number the​ info-query originated from. IP addresses known to​ be search engine based are served one set of​ information while unrecognized IP addresses,​ (assumed to​ be live-visitors) are served another.

3. Leader Pages
Leader pages are a​ series of​ similar documents each designed to​ meet requirements of​ different search engine algorithms. This is​ one of​ the​ original SEO tricks dating back to​ the​ earliest days of​ search when there were almost a​ dozen leading search engines sorting less than a​ billion documents. it​ is​ considered spam by the​ major search engines as​ they see multiple incidents of​ what is​ virtually the​ same document. Aside from that,​ the​ technique is​ no longer practical as​ search engines consider a​ far wider range of​ factors than the​ arrangement or​ density of​ keywords found in​ unique documents.

4. Mini-Site Networks
Designed to​ exploit a​ critical vulnerability in​ early versions of​ Google's PageRank algorithm,​ mini-site networks were very much like leader pages except they tended to​ be much bigger. the​ establishment of​ a​ mini-site network involved the​ creation of​ several topic or​ product related sites all linking back to​ a​ central sales site. Each mini-site would have its own keyword enriched URL and be designed to​ meet specific requirements of​ each major search engine. Often they could be enlarged by adding information from leader pages. By weaving webs of​ links between mini-sites,​ an​ artificial link-density was created that could heavily influence Google's perception of​ the​ importance of​ the​ main site.

In the​ summer of​ 2004,​ Google penalized several prominent SEO and SEM firms for using this technique by banning their entire client lists.

5. Link Farms
Link farms emerged as​ free-for-all link depositories when webmasters learned how heavily incoming links influenced Google. Google,​ in​ turn,​ quickly devalued and eventually eliminated the​ PR value it​ assigned to​ pages with an​ inordinate collection or​ number of​ links. Nevertheless,​ link farms persist as​ uninformed webmasters and unethical SEO firms continue to​ use them.

6. Blog and/or Forum spam
Blogs and forums are amazing and essential communication technologies,​ both of​ which are used heavily in​ the​ daily conduct of​ our business. as​ with other Internet based media,​ blogs and forum posts are easily and often proliferated. in​ some cases,​ blogs and certain forums also have established high PR values for their documents. These two factors make them targets of​ unethical SEOs looking for high-PR links back to​ their websites or​ those of​ their clients. Google in​ particular has clamped down on​ Blog and Forum abuse.

7. Keyword Stuffing
At one time,​ search engines were limited to​ sorting and ranking sites based on​ the​ number of​ keywords found on​ those documents. That limitation led webmasters to​ put keywords everywhere they possibly could. When Google emerged and incoming links became a​ factor,​ some even went as​ far as​ using keyword stuffing of​ anchor text.

The most common continuing example of​ keyword stuffing can be found near the​ bottom of​ far too many sites in​ circulation.

8. Hidden Text
It is​ amazing that some webmasters and SEOs continue to​ use hidden text as​ a​ technique but,​ as​ evidenced by the​ number of​ sites we find it​ on,​ a​ lot of​ folks still use it. They shouldn't.

There are two types of​ hidden text. the​ first is​ text that is​ coloured the​ same shade as​ the​ background thus rendering it​ invisible to​ human visitors but not to​ search spiders. the​ second is​ text that is​ hidden behind images or​ under document layers. Search engines tend to​ dislike both forms and have been known to​ devalue documents containing incidents of​ hidden text.

9. Useless Meta Tags
Most meta tags are absolutely useless. the​ unethical part is​ that some SEO firms actually charge for the​ creation and insertion of​ meta tags. in​ some cases,​ there seems to​ be a​ meta tag for virtually every possible factor but for the​ most part are not considered by search spiders.

StepForth only uses the​ description and keywords meta tags (though we are dubious about the​ actual value of​ the​ keywords tag),​ along with relevant robots.txt files. All other identifying or​ clarifying information should be visible on​ a​ contact page or​ included in​ the​ footers of​ each page.

10. Misuse of​ Directories
Directories,​ unlike other search indexes,​ tend to​ be sorted by human hands. Search engines traditionally gave links from directories a​ bit of​ extra weight by considering them links from trusted authorities. a​ practice of​ spamming directories emerged as​ some SEOs and webmasters hunted for valuable links to​ improve their rankings. Search engines have since tended to​ devalue links from most directories. Some SEOs continue to​ charge directory submission fees.

11. Hidden Tags
There are a​ number of​ different sorts of​ tags used by search browsers or​ website designers to​ perform a​ variety of​ functions such as; comment tags,​ style tags,​ alt tags,​ noframes tags,​ and http-equiv tags. For example,​ the​ "alt tag" is​ used by site-readers for the​ blind to​ describe visual images. Inserting keywords into these tags was a​ technique used by a​ number SEOs in​ previous years. Though some continue to​ improperly use these tags,​ the​ practice overall appears to​ be receding.

12. Organic Site Submissions
One of​ the​ most unethical things a​ service-based business can do is​ to​ charge clients for a​ service they don't really need. Charging for,​ or​ even claiming submissions to​ the​ major search engines are an​ example. Search engine spiders are so advanced they no longer require site submission to​ find information. Search engine spiders find new documents by following links. Site submission services or​ SEO firms that charge clients a​ single penny for submission to​ Google,​ Yahoo,​ MSN or​ Ask Jeeves,​ are radically and unethically overcharging those clients.

13. Email spam
Placing a​ URL inside a​ "call-to-action" email continues to​ be a​ widely used type of​ search marketing spam. With the​ advent of​ desktop search appliances,​ email spam has actually increased. StepForth does not use email to​ promote your website in​ any way.

14. Redirect spam
There are several ways to​ use the​ redirect function to​ fool a​ search engine or​ even hijack traffic destined for another website! Whether the​ method used is​ a​ 301,​ a​ 302,​ a​ 402,​ a​ meta refresh or​ a​ java-script,​ the​ end result is​ search engine spam.

15. Misuse of​ Web 2.0 Formats (ie Wiki,​ social networking and social tagging)
An emerging form of​ SEO spam is​ found in​ the​ misuse of​ user-input media formats such as​ Wikipedia. Like blog comment spamming,​ the​ instant live-to-web nature of​ Web 2.0 formats provide an​ open range for SEO spam technicians. Many of​ these exploits might even find short-term success though it​ is​ only a​ matter of​ time before measures are taken to​ devalue the​ efforts.

Search engine optimization spam continues to​ be a​ problem for the​ SEO industry as​ it​ tries to​ move past the​ perceptions of​ mainstream advertisers. When under-ethical techniques are used,​ trust (the basis of​ all business) is​ abused and the​ efforts of​ the​ SEO/SEM industry are called into question. Fortunately,​ Google's new algorithm appears to​ be on​ the​ cutting edge of​ SEO spam detection and prevention. Let's hope 2018 is​ the​ year the​ entire SEO industry goes on​ a​ spam-free diet.

SEO Spam

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