SEO is the process of increasing a site’s visibility during a search.
Since its inception, Google, now indisputably the world’s largest search engine, has laid out most of the standards currently followed by webmasters and site owners to get their sites to the top of search results.
Unfortunately, scheming individuals believed they could punk search engine systems. They manipulated their way up to the top of search results and pocketed huge amounts of profit … but their successes have been short-lived.
In update after update, all the search engines, but especially Google, flexed their strength and affirmed a commitment to providing quality: they blasted spam and offensive sites in a sincere and usually successful effort to guarantee a user-friendly search experience.
First in a series of major search algorithm overhauls was Panda, which penalized sites with low-quality content.
Next came Google Penguin, an algorithmic update that swept search results of spammy sites. It cracked down on websites that feature questionable link profiles, and cleared others that betrayed an over-optimization of exact-match keywords.
Most recently, Google rolled out the EMD (Exact-Match Domain) update, which sought to penalize sites that have exact-match domain names, but offer content of demonstrably little value.
While effective, this series of updates risked wiping more legitimate websites from the map along with the ugly ones. Maybe this happened to a site you own. If this happened to you, resist the urge to panic and grasp at quick but counterproductive solutions.
To help you avoid getting unnecessarily penalized by any of the recent stringent algorithmic updates rolled out by Google, below are some of the “SEO tips” floating around that you should firmly ignore. Treat them like diseases.
Create doorway pages
Doorway pages are heavily utilized by blackhat SEO practitioners. These feature very poor quality content, but have been created and optimized for a single keyword to point to a single page. Doorway pages are a direct violation of Google’s recently updated webmaster guidelines.
Another widely practiced spam technique is link cloaking. Link cloaking tries to deceive search engines and users by hiding URLs. This is done by disguising a link via a tinyurl service so that the displayed URL is transformed. The goal is to increase clickthrough rates (CTRs) by duping users into clicking on a friendly looking or pretty link.
Use HTTP header cloaking
One of the surest ways to get effectively banned from the search engines is by the use of HTTP header-cloaking schemes. This tactic sends HTTP headers to search engines that are different from the ones sent to users.
An example of this is when good content on a high-ranking page is replaced with a sign-up form with the expires and cache control headers changed in an attempt to mislead search engines into retaining the page’s ranking.
Link hijacking yet another form of cloaking. This happens when the anchor text leads visitors to a different page. The goal is to hide the URL that contains specific keywords for which the page is optimizing, in a deceptive anchor text.
Why would folks want to use these deceptive tactics? These have been practiced by blackhatters not just to deceive the search engines, but to make a quick buck.
Fortunately for those of us who play by the rules and maintain legitimate online businesses, the search engines are getting smarter. It’s increasingly difficult to get around search engine algorithms, and we can only hope that eventually there will be no other way to play it than their way.
If you still have questions about the proper search engine optimization techniques that won’t get you banned from the search engines, talk to us and we’ll show you great ways to push your site to the top of the search results.