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Previous ci-Insider News

January 2004
Looking back at 2003 - What did we learn?

November 2003
WayBackMaching - a look back at Naples and Marco Island area websites

October 2003
Changes Coming to Internet Explorer

August 2003
Scumware Revisited
A Tale of 2 Islands
Anti-Spam programs

May 2003
It's Your Web - Help Clean it Up!

March 2003
Increasing Website Traffic

January, 2003
Security Alert: Fake Email Greeting Cards
Yahoo and Google - New Search Results
SpamNet from www.cloudmark.com

October, 2002
Virus Hoaxes
Who are you doing business with? Check them out!
Google and cached copies

August, 2002
Using Email Signatures
FLASH sites - How to Avoid Search Engine Roadblocks

June, 2002
Calculating Customer Acquisition Cost
Don't Believe the Email FROM Line
Google's Page Rank Formula

April, 2002
SCUMWARE
HOAXBUSTERS
Latest Computer Virus Threats and Global Virus Tracking
How to Check Who is Linking to Your Website

February, 2002
Reliable Web Host - Discount Prices???
Link farm Scam
Search Engines and Paid Submissions


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Search Engine Spam (Spamdexing)

"Search engine spamming represents the deep, dark black magic of search engine optimization (SEO) that no one likes to talk about. It is the white whale, pink elephant and snipe hunt incarnate. Purveyors of insidious listing techniques are thought of as the lowest of the low. When search engines discover spammed pages or spamming search firms, listings are often sent to ranking Siberia, permanently, " says Kevin Ryan in an article at iMEDIA last week.

Search Engine Spam has been the topic of many webmaster forums and industry news articles lately...and should be as SPAMDEXING techniques are growing at an incredible rate. It seems that as soon as the Search Engines identify and stop one technique, several others appear.

One of the most frequent questions that I get asked is, Joe SoandSo's site is at the top of the Search Engine, how did I get my website there? Often that site has just appeared at the top of a Search Engine and others want to know the secret to that success...often that success is temporary and often it was achieved by using a Search Engine Spam (Spamdexing) technique.

Listed below are a few of the current techniques:

  1. Link Farms and Link Popularity Schemes
    Google Information for Webmasters states "Avoid SEOs that talk about the power of "free-for-all" links, link popularity schemes, or submitting your site to thousands of search engines. These are typically useless exercises that do not affect your ranking in the results of the major search engines. At least, not in a way you would likely consider to be positive." Google Facts & Fiction goes on to state "Linking schemes do not increase a given site's PageRank, and will often do a site more harm than good. Many sites that advertise link-sharing programs not only offer little value, but will distribute your email address without your permission, resulting in an increased volume of unwanted mail to you."

    Examples of Link Farms:
    Example 1 - Also 5 additional pages of links listed at the bottom of that page
    Example 2 - Same List of Links - Also same 5 additional pages of links listed at the bottom of that page
    Example 3 - Same 6 pages of links

  2. Rapid Fire Submission:
    In a recent article at IMediaConnection.com, Kevin Ryan says "There is always some jackass sitting in a dorm room ... figuring out ways to automate search submissions. Problem, search engines donít like it when you crawl them, and they hate when you try to hit them with a phalanx of submissions. A Better Way: Bite the bullet and follow submission guidelines. Avoid anyone who offers a "tool" for doing so."

  3. Title Spamming by Keyword Repetition:
    In a recent article at ClickZ.com by Shari Thurow she explains "One of the most important tags for "natural" or "organic" search engine optimization (SEO) is the HTML title tag. Title text is text placed between the <title> and </title> tags. A title tag and its content looks like this:

    <title>Organic green teas from ABC Tea Company</title>

    HTML title-tag content is important for positioning and providing a call to action. All major crawler-based search engines (Google, Inktomi, etc.) use title-tag content to determine relevancy. Additionally, much of the title-tag content is the hyperlink in search engine results pages (SERPs).

    A keyword-stuffed title tag does not give potential customers the right impression. Do you want people to buy organic green teas from your company? Or do you want them to buy green teas; green tea; organic green tea; and organic green teas? Write for your target audience when you create HTML title-tag content."

    In an article at by Jill Whalen at Search Engine Guide she states "In order to play it safe, it's probably a good idea to not use any given word more than two times in the title.":

    Title Don't: San Francisco Restaurant San Francisco Dining Restaurant in San Francisco Downtown Restaurant San Francisco
    Title Do: San Francisco Restaurant Antonios Cafe in Downtown San Francisco California

  4. Hidden/Invisible Text:
    Text color is set the same color as the page background color and is not visible to the human viewer - many search engines can not detect this.

  5. Keyword Stuffing:
    Repeated use us keywords, often appearing at the bottom of a page, sometimes after several paragraph breaks to force a large blank page area before the text begins, sometimes in tiny text....
    Example 1: restaurant restaurant restaurant restaurant San Francisco San Francisco San Francisco restaurant restaurant restaurant restaurant San Francisco San Francisco San Francisco restaurant restaurant restaurant restaurant San Francisco San Francisco San Francisco
    Example 2: Attention Search Engines and Spiders this site is about San Francisco restaurant, dining, restaurant, San Francisco California restaurant, Mr. B's San Francisco Restaurant, fine dining in San Francisco, restaurant in San Francisco....

  6. Misleading Meta Tags:
    Using words or terms in the Meta Tag that are not relevant to the actual website but are popular search terms.
    Example: Susie Realtor has a real estate site in Any City, Arizona. She checks recent top 50 Search Terms at Lycos and decides to include those terms in her Meta Keyword tag which would read something like ... Atkins Diet, Survivor All Stars, Britney Spears, South Beach Diet, Nick Berg, American Idol, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton ...etc. The terms used that should tell you what the site is about in reality have nothing to do with a realtor or real estate in Any City, Arizona.

  7. Keyword Stuffed Page Links:
    Repetition of keywords in the page url, often long and hyphenated and often not related to the subject of the page...
    Example: www.anyhotel.com/hotel-lodging-denver-suites-airport-hotel.htm
    or
    a button for a Rates page at that hotel would read www.anyhotel.com/hotel-luxury-resort-denver-colorado.htm

  8. Doorway Pages:
    Described by Shari Thurow in an article at ClickZ... "Doorway pages come in all shapes and sizes. Some are very easy to spot. They're often computer-generated, text-only pages of gibberish. If human visitors viewed the page, they wouldn't purchase from the company. The page is ugly and nonsensical....Visitors don't see the same page search engine spiders do. In other words, one doorway page is presented to search engines, a different one is presented to visitors...Doorway pages are often created for individual search engines."

Google Information for Webmasters includes basic principles and specific recommendations:

"Quality Guidelines - Basic principles:

  • Make pages for users, not for search engines. Don't deceive your users, or present different content to search engines than you display to users.
  • Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you'd feel comfortable explaining what you've done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?"
  • Don't participate in link schemes designed to increase your site's ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or "bad neighborhoods" on the web as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.
  • Don't use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our terms of service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Goldô that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.
Quality Guidelines - Specific recommendations:
  • Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
  • Don't employ cloaking or sneaky redirects.
  • Don't send automated queries to Google.
  • Don't load pages with irrelevant words.
  • Don't create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.
  • Avoid "doorway" pages created just for search engines, or other "cookie cutter" approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.

These quality guidelines cover the most common forms of deceptive or manipulative behavior, but Google may respond negatively to other misleading practices not listed here, (e.g. tricking users by registering misspellings of well-known web sites). It's not safe to assume that just because a specific deceptive technique isn't included on this page, Google approves of it."

Unless you can afford to have your site banned from the search engines permanently, don't use the techniques described above. In conclusion, Google Information for Webmasters says " Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles listed above will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit. "

Each Search Engine and directory has a system in place for reporting Search Engine Abuse:
AltaVista: http://addurl.altavista.com/help/contact/search
Google: http://www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html
Inktomi: reportspam@inktomi.com
Fast: spam@fastsearch.com
Teoma: info@teoma.com


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