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Rebecca Eifried 2011/09/18 20:53

Best Practice: "Prohibited" SEO Techniques

FIXME

Introduction

“Search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site’s user experience and performance in organic search results.”1)

No matter if small or big companies, old or blue chips, they all have the same wish: They want to be found by their business partners, clients, customers and interesting target groups - they all want to improve their brand awareness and employer attractiveness - and, most importantly, they want to generate new business opportunities. Web sites which are ranked higher in search engine result gain more visitors - and therefore more potential buyers - than those which are not listed on the top pages.2) The keyword to one of the most effective ways to pursue these aims is search engine optimization (SEO). Every day is a big fight in the SERPs (search engine result pages), in order to be ranked as best as possible.3)

Definition of "white hat" vs. "black hat" SEO Techniques

There are different ways to create your Web site effectively, so called SEO techniques. And therefore, there are also good and bad methods - good ones will help to optimize your business appearance, but the bad ones will disgracefully ruin your reputation. Google will ban your Web site or you will also have legal consequences. 4) Experts talk about so called “white hat” vs. “black hat” SEO. The difference is that “white hat” is working within existing guidelines, “black hat” SEO is encroaching current limitations within the search engine algorithms. But experts also argue about what really can be considered as “white hat” or “black hat” - in those cases we talk about so called “grey hats”. Another problem is, that there are no fixed, written down limitations by Google - and as SEO techniques are always changing, a sharp categorization into “black hat” or “white hat” is difficult.5)6)

Therefore, in this Wiki article, we simply talk about best practice, so called “prohibited” SEO techniques, that generally should be avoided. All of these questionable techniques expect that search engines e.g. Google will not detect them - based on undermining current (and not yet existing) limitations of search engine algorithms.7)

Related video:

SEO Blackhat vs. Whitehat

"Prohibited" SEO Techniques You Should Avoid

Nowadays, search engines set their focus from on-page optimization towards off-page optimization - looking for websites which maintain a balance between those two techniques.

A) On-page Optimization

1. Automated Content Duplication/Generation

Search engines like content. They particularly like frequently updated content. Unfortunately, creating new content means a big effort. There are some approaches to trigger search engine spiders by indexing a bigger amount of pages from a Web site more often. Another idea is to auto-generate content or scratch off Web content from other sources and republish it. This technique often is used together with link farms (see below). To detect what is “natural” content Google has been developing very good methods to spy out these duplication techniques. Often these automated generation content/duplication techniques undermine copyright laws and current permissions.8)9)

2. Keyword Stuffing/High Keyword Density Style

Keyword Stuffing means that given keywords are over-populating certain sections of a Web page in a high frequency. Although this technique is quite old, it remains still very popular. Keyword stuffing can quickly be detected by search engines (e.g. Google, Yahoo). Affected Web sits get labeled as “Spammy websites”.10)11)12)13)

3. Cloaking

Cloaking technique is used to create a highly optimized version of your Web site appear to search engines, but a more user-friendly page appears to the user. In other words, it describes the displaying of different Web site content to the search engine spiders which is delivered to another user (based on their IP addresses). This content is not written in a normal format of your website as viewed by the human visitor. A common reason for this technique is to send the search engine crawlers content for ranking for a specific keyword — it will send different content to the real users. For Google it is very easy to detect cloaking - they simply visit and check your Web site as a user. This technique is very likely to get your Web site banned.14)15)16)

4. Hidden Text/Content

Hidden texts are often used to get a better ranking of Web pages. Those hidden texts are influencing search spiders indexes, but can't be detected by a human beeing. The most common example is a white text on a white page background. Other examples to modify pages could be tags in the HTML, CSS stylings or Javascript. Hidden content may be constructed as spam.17)18)19)

5. Gateway/Doorway Pages

Gateway/Doorway Pages are very similar to cloaking techniques in order to get better rankings. While cloaking is delivering different content to spiders, a doorway page triggers a given page to rank well in the search engines - but misleading users to another page. For example the BMW Web site has completely be banned form Google for a certain time because of doorway pages. Google engineer Matt Cutts outed BMW on his blog and therefore SEO community became aware of the car company's misbehavior.20)21)22)

6. HTML/Programming Errors Your Web site should be 100% error-free. So, search engines will easily crawl your Web site. Several pages got penalized due to some serious errors in their HTML coding or because of using external redirections.23)

FIXME

Related videos:

SEO FAQ 10 : Black Hat SEO Strategies to Avoid

Black Hat Versus White Hat SEO Techniques

B) Off-page Optimization

7. Link Exchanges

One of the best effects on influencing search rankings is to maximize the number and quality of inbound links to a Web page. If we talk about Link Exchange techniques, Web site owners create a link directory on their website and exchanged links with several hundred/thousand of websites. Links can be created as transparent links with the same background color, as hidden links e.g. hidden behind graphics or as misleading links or inconspicuous links. Search engines take drastic measures on websites which heavily use link exchange techniques.24)25)26)

8. Link Farms/Anchor Text at Bottom Page

A link farm is a group of fake Web sites created for the only purpose to create a high number of links to a given Web site - and therefore are distorting search engine results. A more specific link technique is the anchor text at the bottom of the page to fortify spiders and deep links.27)28)

9. Buying Links

Buying links has revealed to be one of the most popular “prohibited” SEO techniques - risking the real objective of search engines, particularly to prefer Web sites with best an natural content. Therefore, search engines nullify back links which are bought from high PR Web sites.29)

FIXME

Conclusion

GENERAL NOTE: Avoid SEO techniques that are tricking search engines and falsifying search results. “If a given technique could be detected by a human doing a “manual review,” then it's probably a bad idea.30)

Even if you detect a hole in the algorithm today, your advantage could be very termporary and your Web site could be penalized or banned. In most cases the damage here is much bigger than your advantage - so it isn't worth it. In most cases the effort on “Prohibited” SEO techniques is a waste of time. Instead there you should invest your time and energy much better in two points, if you want to be successful on the long term31):

1.) Try to prove your Web site so that it deserves to be ranked highly because it has valuable, differentiated content.32)

2.) Try to help the search engines to discover content which is a real benefit for users. Try to work with search engines instead exploiting them.33)

As the techniques vary from day to day, the list of “prohibited” SEO techniques is endless and needs to be updated consequently. Google themself has not yet pronounced any strict SEO limitations, but they outlined some issues which they recommend to avoid. Fur further input, you may visit the Google Webmaster Guidelines.

Related videos:

Matt Cutts on Big Brand BlackHat Sites

PubCon: Exclusive Interview With Matt Cutts

1) What Not To Do In Search Engine Optimisation; Anderson, S.; Hobo-Web LTD; Retrieved 2011/09/18
2) , 9) , 12) , 15) , 18) , 21) , 23) Avoid These SEO Techniques; Google, SEO, Yahoo; 2009/06/01; Retrieved 2011/09/18
3) , 11) , 24) , 28) , 29) SEO Styles Make the Fight – 10 Deadly SEO Techniques to Avoid; Smith, J.; 2007/11/08; Retrieved 2011/09/18
4) , 5) , 7) , 8) , 10) , 14) , 17) , 20) , 27) , 30) , 31) , 32) , 33) Six Sneaky SEO Techniques That Will Get Web Sites Banned; Shah, D.; 2008/02/26; Retrieved 2011/09/18
6) Erfolgreiche Websites. SEO, SEM, Online-Marketing, Usability; Düweke E., Rabsch, S.; Galileo Press 2011; Page 470-473
13) The Art of SEO. Mastering Search Engine Optimization; Enge, E. et al.; 1st Edition 2009; O'Reilly Beijing, Cambridge, Farnham, Köln, Sebastopol, Tokyo; Page 461
16) , 26) Search Engine Optimization Bible. 2nd Edition; Ledford, J.L.; Wiley Publishing Inc. 2009; Page310-316
19) The Art of SEO. Mastering Search Engine Optimization; Enge, E. et al.; 1st Edition 2009; O'Reilly Beijing, Cambridge, Farnham, Köln, Sebastopol, Tokyo; Page 449-454
22) The Art of SEO. Mastering Search Engine Optimization; Enge, E. et al.; 1st Edition 2009; O'Reilly Beijing, Cambridge, Farnham, Köln, Sebastopol, Tokyo; Page 455-461
25) Search Engine Optimization SECRETS. Do what you never thought possible with SEO; Dover, D.; Wiley Publishing Inc. 2011; Page 195-199
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best_practices/prohibited_seo_techniques.txt · Last modified: 2012/05/09 09:39 (external edit)