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Why You Need to Recognize Search Engine Spam

If you are able to recognize search engine spam, you can avoid many potential problems that arise when you try to improve your Web site’s ranking. You will also be able to choose third-party sites with confidence, and even prevent your online competitors from gaining an unfair advantage over your site.

Spam involves any attempt by a Web site to deceive the search engines into ranking that site when it does not deserve to be ranked. You need to know spam when you see it for a few reasons:

  • You can prevent your own Web site from inadvertently doing anything the search engines consider spam. This means avoiding questionable elements such as hidden text and links, deceptive redirection, and keyword stuffing.

  • When you’re looking for good candidates among third-party sites that you could ask to link to your Web site, you can stay away from those with shady practices so your site doesn’t get tainted by association.

  • If you can recognize when someone else (such as your competitor) uses spam, you can distance yourself from them and even report them, if you choose. Knowledge is power, after all.

If you’ve ever done a search for car parts and clicked a result that took you to a page filled instead with a list of random hyperlinks (words or phrases a user can click to jump to another Web page) — or which sold something else entirely, like condominiums in the Bermuda Triangle — you’ve seen search engine spam.

Chances are you blamed the search engine for this mistake. But the truth is that the search engine thought that the Web page it gave you really was about car parts. How did the search engine go so wrong? It was probably fooled by spam.

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