Google, like any other search engine, values content relevance and quality the most when it comes to determining the page rank of the website.
Its ranking algorithms and crawlers are encrypted to ensure that the top rankings are given to only those sites that provide useful information to the browsers and continually update their content to provide the latest data on a subject.
In its quest to provide the best results to its users, Google is rather unforgiving when it stumbles across some black hat Search Engine Optimization techniques used by a few web masters to trick its ranking algorithms.
As a result, such sites are either banned by Google or, if less menacing, attract a Page Rank penalty.
If you are launching a new site and do not want to be relegated to the ‘Bad Neighborhoods’ – the label used by Google to tag sites that use illegal optimizing techniques, it is advisable to steer clear of methods such as stuffing keywords in your content or HTML code, plagiarizing content from other sites, using hidden text and links in the home page or other pages, and using doorway or robot-generated pages and misleading page titles.
As already mentioned, it is equally callous for a site to use link farms to build back links for their pages.
Thus, it is always a good idea to double check a link request that you get before hosting it on your site. Using such precautionary steps will prevent your site from getting in to the bad books of a search engine such as Google.
A site can also get banned from Google Adsense if it uses unscrupulous methods to generate clicks on its pages.
For now, we have listed some of the most common and deceitful optimization techniques that some websites use to secure higher engine rankings and end up getting banned from Google.
It would do you a world of good to keep away from such back handed modus operandi to get a better search engine placement.
One of the most common terms in Internet parlance, spamming is defined as the abuse of electronic messaging system to send unsolicited bulk messages to an indiscriminating group of people. Some of the most popular forms of spamming are email spam, Instant Messaging spam, more popularly known as IM spam, newsgroup or forum spam, spam indexing – spam targeting search engines, online game messaging spam and spam targeting video sharing sites.
If you do not want to be tagged a spammer, stay away from all of these and focus on the content of your site to help you get a higher search engine ranking. Moreover, spamming is a criminal offence punishable under law in various countries and you can be charged with several criminal counts such as mail fraud, wire fraud and e-mail fraud if you resort to this technique.
Submitting multiple URLs:
A number of web masters try to attain a higher page rank for their site by submitting several URLs for a particular site. This is one of the oldest tricks in a spammer’s book. By doing so, a spammer intends to get multiple search results for the same page, which in turn is expected to spike up the ranking of the site.
Submitting the same URL more than once in a month is also considered spamming by Google and other popular search engines such as Yahoo and MSN. By doing so, a web master runs the risk of getting his or her site banned from future listing on the search engine.
Another popular black hat SEO technique, cloaking refers to having two different versions of the same page. While one of the pages is optimized for the search engine spiders that crawl through it to adjudge its content relevance, another one is optimized for the human user. Thus, in effect, the site has two different pages, one meant for the search engine and the other for the net browsers.
The trick behind this is delivering the content on the basis of the IP address of the visitor. This way, a particular page has different content in its page than mentioned in its search engine description. Pornographic sites to get traffic and to trick search engine crawlers to get a higher page ranking often use this spam indexing technique.
Using Doorway pages:
A different form of cloaking, doorway pages refer to having a homepage stuffed with highly competitive keywords that are meant to deceive the human visitors. Since a page loaded only with popular phrases does not make any sense to a reader viewing the page, the web master redirects him or her to a different page that though comprehensible is not as informative or keyword rich.
Doorway pages are known by many different names such as bridge pages, portal pages, jump pages, gateway pages and entry pages.
Using spoofing, redirects or Meta Refresh:
A number of sites have a Meta Refresh tag that automatically redirects visitors to a different page. This tool is often abused by spammers to take the browsers to a page that has content unrelated to the typed-in key word in the search box. Given the blatant misuse of this feature, a number of search engines, including Google, are apprehensive about web sites that have a fast meta-refresh rate.
Using hidden text on the website’s pages:
Using hidden text or keywords on a page is a big no-no with Google. This is usually done by minimizing the keywords to unreadable proportions, including it behind an image or by changing its font color to that of the background.
Thus, these keywords are invisible to the human eye but are picked up by search engine spiders as that crawl through the page to check its keyword density. A number of webmasters also use keywords on doorway pages to boost their keyword density. However, once found out by Google, this is a sure shot way to get banned from its listing.
Using hidden links in the pages:
As already stated in the ‘Choosing quality link partners’ section, it is very important to ensure that you engage in back linking only with credible sites that do not use any black hat SEO methods. Using hidden links, in the same way as hidden keywords, will definitely have a negative impact on your site’s rankings and can get it banned as well.
Links can be hidden in a site in the same way as text – by using CSS tools and techniques, setting the font size to zero or by changing its color to the background color. If detected, Google crawlers will red flag your site and it will be dropped from the search engine listings faster than you can imagine.
Thus, having a text or link that is meant exclusively for the search engine spiders is construed as intended deception by Google and banned from its search index for the benefit of its users.
Generating links from Link Farms:
As already mentioned in earlier posts, getting inbound links from link farms or directories is tantamount to committing a hara kiri on the Web. Google classifies Free for All sites, link directories and classifieds as link farms as they exist solely for the purpose of providing links to the sites listed with them.
Whether created through automated programs and services or manually, linking to these directories is considered a form of spam indexing since the link exchange is driven by the greed for links for getting a better page rank rather than linking to high quality and relevant sites to add to the surfing experience of the browser.
Though a web master cannot do much to monitor the back links that he or she gets from other sites, it is better not to give reciprocal links to a particular site until you are certain of its authenticity. Entering into linking partnerships of dubious nature can also get your site into trouble and might even end up in getting your site banned from Google. You can also be fined for associating with such sites by a drop in your page rank score.
Selling page rank:
One of the easiest ways to hurt your page rank or to get your site banned from Google is by selling it to other sites. Quite a few web masters buy links from high-ranking sites to boost their page rank. However, Google sees this as a violation of its quality guidelines and has already issued a warning to web masters to refrain from this practice or else bear its consequences that range from imposition of a penalty on their page rank or banning them from the search engine’s index.
Having multiple identical sites:
Creating multiple identical sites or interlinking your website with spam pages that contain the same or very similar content is not seen favorably by Google as it is done in the attempt to cheat its spiders into ascribing a higher ranking. It is a common occurrence to see webmasters list identical sites in the search engine under different domain names to increase traffic. Also known as mirror sites, these receive the boot as soon as discovered by Google crawlers. This brings us to another popular spamming technique – creating multiple domains.
Creating multiple domains or using multiple domain names to reach the same site is not a good idea if you want to get a high page rank in Google. Often, webmasters own several domain names – including misspellings and hyphenated versions of the main site – with identical or similar content that redirect the browser to one page. This is done with the intention of increasing the traffic in the page.
However, by doing so you will end up doing more harm than good as Google spiders will see right through this strategy to get more traffic and penalize or ban your site. If you own multiple domains on the same topic, it is better to develop unique content for each of them and then interlink them to get targeted click-through traffic.
Though one of the main benefits of owning multiple domains is preventing the competitor from capitalizing on your name and branding efforts; do not be tempted to use black hat SEO techniques while interlinking them to improve your page rank.
According to Google’s Webmaster’s guidelines, a site should not have more than 100 links on any given page. Though a site will not be penalized for having more links than the recommended ceiling, its page rank score might drop due to excessive linking. Moreover, a page with over 25 links does not contribute much to the visibility of the link partner. As has been stressed so many times before – quality rather than quantity should be your catchword while securing links from various sources.
To conclude, the best way to get a good page rank in Google is by adhering to its clearly laid out quality guidelines and resisting the urge to use any of the above-mentioned techniques to cheat its ranking algorithms. Remembering these ‘Don’ts’ while optimizing your site for Google will serve you well in the long run.
This is the last post in this series on ‘Link Building Campaign’. I hope you have enjoyed the series.
What’s your view on these steps? Have you fallen foul of such techniques?
Please share your views in the comments below. Thanks