Website Spam - Just Say No


Don't spam - you'll get caughtDesigning and building your website can be great fun. Playing around with the graphic design, images and deciding upon the structure of your content lets you be as creative as you want. But after all of this work finally goes live you need traffic (visitors to your website) to get online success. If no one visits your website it doesn't matter how good it is, it will fail.

A lot of search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques take effort to implement and time to show results. It can be very tempting to try to shortcut this process by using a few underhand methods.

DON'T SPAM THE SEARCH ENGINES


If the search engines catch you using these techniques they will penalise you, or in the worst-case take your website out of the search engine results.

Below we've listed a few of the more common techniques that people use to try to boost their search engine rankings. If you're using any of these in your site our advice is to get them off immediately. If you've had somebody do SEO work for you make sure you check that they are using proper techniques.

Keyword Stuffing


This is one of the simplest and oldest forms of website spam. You simply write a block of text onto your page which repeats the phrases you want to be found for over and over again. The thinking behind this is that the more times you mention phrase the more relevant the search engines will think you are.

Usually you see this at the bottom of the page after the proper text where you get a paragraph that's just a list of words. It doesn't fit in with the rest of the page and just looks wrong.

When you're writing your page text you do need to fit your key phrases in, and they do need to be mentioned a few times. You might be tempted to increase a few times to a lot of times. This can also be seen as keyword stuffing. There is no real hard and fast rule but if you read your text, or get someone else to read it, you'll easily know if it sounds contrived. Many people will quote a keyword density figure at you and some will even try to calculate the perfect percentage. There is no ideal value. If you can hardly notice your keywords you need more. If it sounds like you're repeating the same phrase over and over again you need less.

Keyword Hiding


Another of the old school website spam techniques. Similar to keyword stuffing this technique is used by people who want to get more key phrases onto the page. Simply writing them out makes a page look wrong and puts off customers, so why not make the text invisible? The search engines can then see it and index it but customers only see the proper sales text.

People use a range of techniques to do this including matching the text colour with a background, making the text very very very very small, and using HTML coding to make it invisible.

All the search engines are completely keyed into this technique and will spot it on your website.

There are times when you do need to hide text for proper reasons, for example if you're using tabbed content were some sections are hidden until the user clicks a tab. Again the search engines understand this and providing there is a way to make the text visible they will treat your hidden text correctly.

Page Redirection And Doorway Pages


Sometimes it can be hard to work your keyword phrases into your sales text. At the end of the day the sales text needs to sell your products and services to customers. So why not build a page that is completely written for search engine optimisation and then automatically send the user to your sales page once they arrive. This way the search engines will give your SEO page a good ranking but real customers will never see it. You could even expand this idea to have a whole range of pages optimised for individual phrases that all redirect to the same sales page. These are called doorway pages.

Yet again the search engines are way ahead of you on this. Even if you try to use some of the intricate JavaScript coding techniques they'll still catch you. each page in your website needs to be a proper page that people can see. If you're using any scheme that shows one thing to search engines and another to real visitors you will get flagged as having website spam.

Dodgy Links


We all know that the more links that point to your website the better it will perform in the search engines. Building incoming links can again take a lot of effort and time to do successfully. So why not just buy some links or join a link swapping club.

You guessed it! The search engines are constantly monitoring this sort of practice and if you have a look at their guidelines they very clearly state that they will heavily penalise any sites found doing it. The idea here is that links between websites should be there for a reason. Sometimes you will buy links for advertising purposes but if it's purely to improve your search engine ranking then this will flag as spam. Similarly there are a whole range of link clubs around where groups of Webmasters all share links with each other on a series of link pages in their websites. The search engines are aware of these sites, can see the unnatural linking patterns and quite often can recognise the coding used by the link club.

Duplicate Content


Writing lots of pages for your website can be a real pain. If you are targeting lots of similar phrases it can actually be quite hard to think of different things to say on each page. So why not just write one page and just swap the key phrase. If you're writing about a product or service why not just copy from some other site.

This is one of the big things the search engines are currently targeting - have a look at our information on the Google Panda update. They are trying to filter out pages that contain very similar information to make sure that when somebody is searching they don't end up seeing the same thing over and over again.

Whilst the search engines won't penalise your website for doing this they will see your website as having a very low quality content. It will either be dropped way down the rankings or simply taken out of the index as it is deemed a copy of some other page. Either way your pages will end up having zero value.

Stick to Proper Website Design and SEO


The spam techniques we've outlined here are the more common ones we see when we take on a new client. On top of these there are a whole range of more intricate spam practices that you can get involved with.

Just don't do it.

Whatever anybody says about their technique working really well, and that you'll never get caught, and even if you see your competitors doing it and beating you in the search engine rankings, it's really not worth the risk. If you get banned or marked as a bad website it can take months to get yourself back into the search engines let alone get back onto page 1.

On the competitor side of things it can be very frustrating to see a spam riddled site listing above you. If they really are taking the mickey with spammy webpage design you can report them to Google by going here http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreport.

If you're worried your site may be using some website spam techniques give us a call and we'll be happy to have a look for you. If you need some help doing things the right way then we're here to help.
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