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Spam - Unethical Site Promotion Techniques
Sneaky Redirect
100% Frame
Hidden Text / Hidden Links
Exaggerated Use of Keywords
Cloaking
Doorway Pages
Over-linking Between Websites
An Exaggerated Number of Links
PR Sale
How Unethical Promotion Techniques Are Discovered?

When performing promotion of websites with search engines, sometimes it is more important to know what you should not do rather than what you should. Search engines put a special emphasis on the quality of their search results, and to their compliance with the information requested by the user. Actions whose aim is deceiving search engines into placing a certain site at the top of the search results although it does not belong there are unethical, and referred to as Spam in professional language.

Google's definition of spam is building a site with intent to deceive search engines. There is a difference between pages that are constructed for regular users and pages that are constructed for search engine robots. There are many ways to promote a website on search engines that comply with the search engines intent to display relevant search results. Site promotion using invalid techniques lowers the quality of the search results.

This article is based on Google's internal guide that is used by Google's site examiners in order to locate spam and on Google's guidelines for website owners.

Google's guidelines for site owners:
Google
Information for Webmasters

Following is a list of actions considered problematic:

Sneaky Redirect

The definition of a Sneaky Redirect is a page that performs an immediate redirect once you reach it. When you click a link to such a site, the page address appears for a short time, but then changes to a new address of a different page. Sometimes the redirection varies, where every time you enter the site, you are redirected to a different domain. The final result - Google's robot sees one thing (on which it bases the pagerank), but the user sees something else (the page he is redirected to).

The reason for using this technique is that it increases the number of times the website will appear in search results, the site will appear under a number of domains, all of which will direct the visitor to the main site.

Is every redirection considered spam? The answer is no. There are several redirections that Google acknowledges as, but there is no available detail regarding the way to differentiate between a legitimate redirect and spam.

100% Frame

A 100% frame is a page that contains a frame extending over all of or most of the page, where different content is displayed inside the frame. The final result - Google's robot sees one thing (on which it bases the pagerank), but the user sees something else (the page displayed inside the frame).

The reason for using this technique is that it increases the number of times the website will appear in the search results, the site will appear under a number of domains, but all of them will contain a frame that will display the main site.

Hidden Text / Hidden Links

Any text or link that is visible to the search engines but not to users is invalid. The final result - Google's robot sees a text (on which it bases the pagerank), which the user doesn't see. Examples for content hiding techniques:

Text whose color is similar (or very close) to the site background color, or text that is placed over an image whose color is the same as the text color
A text with a very small font definition
A text that is located in an area that is defined as Hidden or Invisible through CSS
Links redirecting from an invisible image
text hidden behind an image
A text that is located in the far right, far left, or way below the site's body text

The reason for using this technique is that the site's owner hopes to achieve one of the following:

Adding the text will increase the number of ways for the user to find the site on Google, by adding hidden content that is not supposed to be displayed originally on that page.
Increasing the number of times important keywords appear in the text, and thus increasing those words' density.

Crowding the website with keywords may distant visitors, therefore hidden text may seem like a good solution. But this solution may turn out to be devastating and only create the opposite result.

Pressing Ctrl-A in the Explorer can sometimes reveal the hidden text.

Exaggerated Use of Keywords

Creating pages that are packed with keywords and no real content.

Cloaking

This technique checks who is the user that asks to display a page on the website. When it turns out that the visitor is a search engine crawler robot, the robot is presented with a different page than the page that a regular visitor would see.

Doorway Pages

With this technique, special doorway pages are created for each keyword (or key phrase) that are packed with keywords repetitions. These doorway pages will usually include only a link (or an automatic redirection) to a page that is the real homepage. This kind of doorway pages is considered unethical.

Over-linking Between Websites

When two sites are linked to each other in an exaggerated way (nobody knows just how much is exaggerated?), this may lead to a penalty (or at least to lowering the link's value). The risk of penalty is higher if the sites are located on the same IP or IP group, meaning where the first three numbers of the IP are identical (a fact that shows that the two sites are under one ownership).

An Exaggerated Number of Links

An exaggerated number of links on a page (to other sites or to other pages on the same site) Nobody knows exactly how much is exaggerated? Link Farming is considered exceptionally invalid; link farming is when a group of websites is linked in an exaggerated way, so that the sole purpose of the links is to increase their PR or to sell links to other websites.

PR Sale

Recently, websites that sell links to other websites for money for the sole purpose of increasing their PR started getting harmed.

Additional information regarding duplicate content:
Content Development

How Unethical Promotion Techniques Are Discovered?

Search engines (allegedly) use three main ways to discover websites that has gone wrong:

Automatic Flagging

Search engine robots are programmed to search for some of the evident invalid promotion techniques. When a robot encounters such an incident, it will "put up a red flag" which will result in a PR0 penalty (on Google). These penalties are mostly temporary, but in severe cases they may turn
permanent.

User Reported Websites

Search engines allow (and even encourage) users to report usage of unethical promotion techniques. If you encounter a website that uses this technique, you can report it to Google through a special page dedicated to reporting a website that uses invalid techniques (see link below).

Forums

This technique may not be official, but it seems that the people from Google read webmaster forums, and when they stumble upon a site that does not play a fair game, they take action.

Reporting a website that uses spam techniques:
Google Spam Report

A customer that couldn't find you is your competitor's customer..

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