7 Types of Spam that Can Get Your Site Penalized by Search Engines

When the word spam is mentioned, what usually comes to mind are the annoying and poorly worded emails people receive in their respective inboxes on a daily basis. Although it’s true that that is spam, it’s important to point out that there are other types of spam—spam or deceptive tactics that are generated from websites/web content and designed to trick search engines.

The types of spam discussed in this article can be categorized under “search engine spam”. Search engine spam—also known as “spamdexing”—is any tactic, act, or misleading content/web page that is used to deceive a search engine and give it a false understanding or interpretation of its real intention.

Most technologies used to create and design websites can also be used to deceive search engines. Search engine spammers use a number of spam methods and advanced techniques that modern search engines are often able to detect.

Because search engines are very intuitive and can easily detect what constitutes a spam, it’s somewhat risky and unnecessary to make an attempt to trick search engines which, in modern times, are far much more intelligent.

Search engine companies work hard to bring relevant results to internet users, and they discard spam-filled content because it can damage their reputation.

Because any search engine could lose users/patronizers if its results pages generate spammy results, search engines penalize websites that use one or more search engine spam techniques; in extreme cases, search engines completely remove sites from their index (list of websites used to create a search engine results pages).

It’s important for bloggers and site owners to be aware of the type of spam or deceptive tactics that can get their sites penalized by search engines. If you’re a blogger or site owner who isn’t aware of what search engine spam activity is, or you’re aware but still want to deceive search engines in order to achieve higher rankings, then you’d better think twice because the types of spam, discussed a bit further, can get your site penalized and forever removed from the view of internet users.

Google, Bing, and other search engines are always improving and fishing out the different types of search engine spam. The penalties can be harsh if a search engine finds out that you’ve attempted to beat its spam detection capabilities.

Keep in mind the following types of spam and resist any urge to use them (Unfortunately, using them could put your site at risk and get it penalized or dropped from search engines and internet users’ browsers and sights.):

1. Hidden texts/links

One direct way to make a web page spammy is by inserting hidden texts and links in its content which is usually published for users to see and click, albeit for morally wrong or ethically wrong reasons.

Hidden texts can appear in the form of a long list of keywords; along with hidden links, both are placed in web page content, unknowingly to users, to increase traffic and site popularity—but not by merit!

To avoid wrong attention from search engines, ensure that all texts in your content are visible to visitors or internet users. The following are some examples of hidden texts and links:

  • Texts (content) and links that are somewhat “placed under web pages, veiled or concealed by a layer, in ways that make them invisible to the naked eye or invisible when content (texts, links) is highlighted.
  • White-colored text and links that are placed on a white background, thereby rendering the text invisible to users or visitors, except when the text is highlighted by right‐clicking the mouse and selecting text.
  • Visible links that have no anchor, and thus don’t appear clickable to users, even if search engines can follow such links.
  • Using cascading style sheets (CSS) to place or position content away from or off the web page’s view. This is a major programming trick that is widely used by spammers.

A site that uses veiled, invisible, or hidden text/links can be easily spotted and banned by search engines, and its content would no longer show up on search engines’ results pages. Therefore, all web content should be visible to users, and no hidden texts/links should be allowed to remain in content.

2. Misleading/deceptive redirections

A misleading or deceptive redirection is a link that redirects a user to a location that is off point or different from what they had initially expected when they were clicking the link for the first time.

Imagine searching for an item whose location (web address) you know very well, but after clicking one of the links on the results page, you are unfortunately redirected or taken to some very questionable location and content, somewhere you never expected—for example, shady sites that often deal with betting/gambling, porn, drugs, or have content that is not related to your search query.

3. Keyword stuffing (stuffing content with keywords)

Keyword stuffing is the act of overusing any keyword in a piece of content, with the intention of getting its web page ranked high due to excess or high keyword use.

Keyword stuffing can occur within a piece of content, and also in the Alt attribute text where repeated typing/entry of a keyword, over and over again, wouldn’t help to increase content/page ranking; also, the content/page would likely be dropped from search engine results pages if keyword stuffing spam is detected.

Other ways keyword stuffing is used, include: hiding keywords text in a content/page; hiding long-tail keywords or large groups of repeated keywords by using HTML instructions that hide blocks of texts from user sight, usually placing them at the bottom, away from the average viewer’s sight.

4. Uncorrelated or unrelated keywords

Whenever a keyword is not related to the content (text, video, or image) which it is supposed to logically connect or relate to, the keyword is uncorrelated with or unrelated to the content. Using a keyword that is unrelated to content constitutes spam.

Other practices include: placing unrelated keywords in the meta tags of a content/page, in the metadata of a video, or into the Alt attribute text of an image. Doing any of the following is not only unnecessary, but could get your site pulled off from search engines results pages.

5. Link farms

A link farm is a group of domains or websites that are individually connected by their respective hyperlinks to the other domains or websites in the group.

Because Google encourages the use of links and hyperlinks, and its algorithm uses them to assess how popular websites are on the internet, some people use automated programs and services to create link farms which search engines can detect by identifying particular attributes that link farms use.

Search engines even go as far as filtering link farms from index and search results and removing entire domains/sites in order to prevent them from influencing results pages. Note that not all links or hyperlinks are part of a link farm or spam, especially when individual websites that are selectively connected with other relevant websites are not often regarded as spam.

6. Doorway pages

A doorway page (a.k.a. gateway page, bridge page, jump page, or portal page) is a technique in which several look-alike content/pages are created slightly different from each other, but are generally stuffed with keywords and phrases that tricks users by redirecting content/pages with a fast meta refresh command.

Doorway pages are deceptive tactics that use JavaScript to automatically redirect users to another site or page—the site or page the website wants them to visit—in an attempt to spam search engine index rankings and rank high without earning it.

7. Cloaking

The intention of using cloaking is to trick search engines to display content/a page even when, ordinarily, it wouldn’t display it. Cloaking is a technique used to make the content appearing on a search engine different from the one appearing on the internet user’s browser.

This implies that the search engine and user are not having the same/actual information and both are being deceived by the spammer/website which is presenting both the user’s browser and the search engine with different content for the same web page.


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