There are many ways to attract traffic from search engines. Some methods go too far and are known as “search engine spamming,” “spamdexing” and “spammage.”

Below you will find some common spamming techniques that search engines frown on.

Keyword Stuffing
Keyword Stuffing involves the repeated use of a word or phrase in an attempt to increase a page’s relevancy. For example, one might place the following at the bottom of a page:

sports equipment sports equipment sports equipment
sports equipment sports equipment sports equipment
sports equipment sports equipment sports equipment
sports equipment sports equipment sports equipment
sports equipment sports equipment sports equipment

Most search engines are wise to keyword stuffing. They can analyze a page to determine if the frequency of a word seems out of proportion to normal, “relevant” documents.

Invisible Text
This is a technique where spammers will insert text, which is usually repetitive use of keywords, somewhere on a page (usually at the bottom) and make the color of the text the same as the background of the page or the background of a table or cell so as not to be seen by the average Internet user. However, many search engines can now detect when a font is the same color as the background and will penalize or even reject such pages.

Tiny Text
Another method of hiding and stuffing is by placing words in a small font size. Because of this, some search engines may reject or penalize pages that make heavy use of small font sizes. You may wonder about pages that use small font size throughout. This can be acceptable so long as there is other text using default or larger font sizes.

Page Spoofing / Meta Refresh / Redirection
A meta refresh tag automatically directs an Internet user to a new web page. Spammers commonly develop a page for a particular keyword phrase, insert a meta refresh tag and then submit that page to the search engines. Anyone clicking through to this page from its listing in a search engine will be automatically taken to a different page. Often, the “final” page people reach has little content relating to the keyword phrase. To combat this, some search engines won’t accept pages with a fast meta refresh rate.

If a meta refresh tag is to be used, it is recommended that it should be set no sooner than 30 seconds. With a fast meta refresh tag, some search engines will end up ignoring the first page and index the second instead.

Search engines may also reject pages that use JavaScript to perform redirection. For legitimate redirection, server-side redirection is an acceptable format.

Meta Tag Stuffing
Meta keyword tags are a useful and acceptable way of adding keywords to a page without resorting to keyword stuffing. However, sometimes people place high traffic keywords in them that are completely unrelated to a web page in order to generate more traffic. Some search engines can detect when the keywords in a keyword meta tag don’t match up with the actual content of a site and will penalize or even reject such pages.

Page Stuffing
Page Stuffing is where the same web page will be duplicated or slightly modified and then these variations are all submitted to a search engine. If the page is successful for a particular keyword phrase, then all of its variations can dominate a search engines top listings. Some search engines eliminate duplicate pages while others watch for heavy submissions, which is a sign of page stuffing.

Page Cloaking / Code Swapping
Page cloaking involves submitting one thing to a search engine and then using something else for the end user. Sometimes a web page is optimized for a search engine, and then the code is immediately changed after a position has been attained. This is done to either prevent others from imitating the success of the page or simply to hide an ugly text-only type of a page for one that is more stylish.

The top search engines combat this by revisiting the pages they index on a regular basis. There’s no way to predict when a search engine will return to a site, so a page cloaker risks losing position since they can’t tell when to put the optimized page back up.

Some spammers use more advanced types of use page cloaking systems to alleviate problems with code swapping such as IP delivery. Most search engines frown on page cloaking and will penalize and even ban sites caught practicing this technique.

Domain Spamming
Domain spamming usually involves having the same exact web site at different URLs also called “mirror sites.” While there are some legitimate reasons to have “mirror” sites, operating such sites simply to increase search engine traffic is generally considered spamming. If the search engines detect you doing this, they will probably ban one or both of the sites.

These are the most common spamming techniques. Do not practice them! As search engines get smarter and smarter, these type of techniques will not help anyway but only hurt positioning efforts. Rather build content rich web sites making use of optimized title tags, meta tags and alt attributes to name a few items. At SearchRank, we recognize that “content is king” and will deliver to search engines content rich web sites that in the end will position well and help searchers find exactly what they are looking for.

David Wallace

David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of SearchRank, is a recognized expert in the industry of search and social media marketing. Since 1997, David has been involved in developing successful search engine and social media marketing campaigns for large and small businesses. Follow +David Wallace on Google + as well as Twitter.

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