Search Engine Black Listing

An important element of web design is fine-tuning sites so that they are attractive to the critical eye of the search engines’ spiders. There is a growing army of search engine optimisation specialists and copywriters, and as Google and other search engines improve their algorithms, new techniques are needed every day.

However, search engine optimisation is one thing; spamming is quite another, and the search engines look upon it very severely. Google is constantly looking for new ways to filter out and block those who are trying to manipulate the system unfairly.

There are various things you can do to get yourself banned by Google. Avoid the following at all costs:

Blacklist Crimes

1. Cloaking

Cloaking is when you put text and links into the html of your web pages which is hidden from your human visitors, usually by making it the same colour as the background of your page. Hidden text tends to be stuffed with keywords (often, they are random but popular ones) in the hopes that people searching for “sex”, “drugs” and “rock ‘n’ roll” will stumble across this site on their quest.

Cloaking is a waste of time. Search engines are wise to it, and it will annoy your visitors too, because highlighting the visible text on your page will result in them finding your dirty secret as well.

2. Over-Enthusiastic Keyword Usage

You’ve been told that search engines like text with lots of keywords, so you write a page of keywords and post it on your site, somewhere you hope your human readers won’t find it. Wrong. Firstly, if it’s not linked well to the rest of your site, Google won’t take much notice of it anyway, and secondly, too many keywords is worse than too few: it can result in a blacklisting.

The best solution is to write good quality, unique, keyword-rich copy that your human visitors will be interested in, with a keyword ratio of approximately 3%. Remember that Google is trying to find its human searchers the best possible results for their query. It is trying to match human needs. So writing good, human-friendly copy is a good idea, and don’t bust a gut trying to get exactly 3%; all the search engines favour different ratios, and it doesn’t really matter that much anyway. Just try to achieve a good balance.

3. Too Much, Too Fast

You decide that you need to start optimising your web site for search engines, so you post a vast quantity of keyword-rich material (mostly lifted from free article sites) in one day. This is not wise; Google makes a note of the growth of sites, and if your site gets bigger too quickly, they’ll suspect you of spamming them. Release your material slowly, and if possible, write it yourself or get a freelancer to write it: search engines much prefer unique content to content which appears on dozens of sites.

Automatically generated, “cookie cutter” pages are also a bad idea. Hundreds of useless pages will not charm the search engines.

4. Duplicate Material

You’ve written a really good article for your site, full of keywords and very interesting and relevant to your visitors. You then post it in three different places on your site. Again, not a good idea. Google likes fresh, unique content. It will notice if you repeat yourself, and penalise you accordingly.

5. FFA (Free For All) Pages and Excessive Cross-Linking

You’ve heard that links into your site will assist in your search engine rankings, so you do a link swap with a free-for-all page, where hundreds of people submit their links to be listed on a single page in return for a link back to the site. Well, for a start, you’ve wasted your time: a link from a page with hundreds of unrelated links on it is virtually worthless. But worse still, you have probably got your site blacklisted. Google doesn’t penalise you for who links to you, because you can’t help that, but they will ban you for linking to a link farm page, and it is notoriously difficult to get reinstated after such an offence.

Joining link schemes is similarly a waste of time and money; having your site linked to and from hundreds of other unrelated sites will not improve your page rank, and could get you banned by Google, Yahoo! and others.

6. Phishing

Phishing is an illegal activity whereby a site is set up which looks a lot like a secure legitimate site, such as a bank or credit card company login page. The site is then used to farm unsuspecting visitors’ bank and contact details, fooling them into thinking they are simply logging in as usual or changing their password. Google bans phishing sites whenever it finds them.

7. Doorway Pages

A doorway page is a page made especially for search engines (and hence not for human visitors). It is designed in such a way that no human visitor will ever see it, and it contains keyword-rich copy, or even just a list of keywords. Some webmasters, knowing that different search engines have different algorithms, make separate doorway pages for each search engine. There is even software that can generate pages which the different search engines are supposed to like.

Generally speaking, doorway pages are a bad idea. Most search engines prohibit their use and will ban you if they find you out. The use of these pages is particularly unacceptable if the keywords you use in the doorway page are not related to the content of your site. What’s more, these pages clutter up search engines with nonsense and make it harder for everyone to find what they’re looking for.

8. Repeatedly Submitting Your Site

Once you’ve submitted your site to search engines (which is rarely necessary at all; usually your site will be indexed naturally, if there are any other existing indexed pages linked to it), you don’t need to do it again. Resubmitting might not get you banned, but it will certainly annoy the search engines, and it won’t do you any good. In fact, some believe that submitting your site actually reduces your chances of a high page ranking.

9. Numerous Virtual Hostname’s

***** A virtual hostname is an additional hostname that redirects to your site’s actual hostname.****** Sometimes these can be used legitimately, as when you have a long URL that is difficult to remember, and so register a Domain Name which redirects to your site which is easier for your customers to remember and type. Having dozens of them, however, is misleading, and the search engines will not be impressed.

10. Illegal Material

Illegal pornography, and other illegal material, will be banned from Google and other search engines as soon as it is found, no questions asked.

How To Do It Right

Nefarious techniques for boosting search engine rankings are, in the long term, a waste of time: they may produce a fast result, but it won’t last for long, and you might even find yourself banned, which can be devastating. There are numerous articles on about how to legitimately improve your search engine rankings. A few pointers to be going on with:

Content is the key factor that search engines take into account. Good quality, unique, keyword-rich copy is your best bet. Not only will it attract the search engine spiders, but your real-life visitors will be more likely to return to read more.

– Update regularly. Give your human and electronic visitors something to come back for; new content is attractive.

– Links to your web site are also important. Consider swapping links with complementary web sites (such as businesses which offer a related service but which aren’t direct competitors). Don’t link to sites that you wouldn’t touch if search engines didn’t exist. Forums and message boards are also valuable places to post links to your site, but don’t spam them ? make friends, take part in the community, and absorb valuable advice while you’re there.

Good luck with legitimately increasing the traffic to your website!

Article written by Natalie Catchpole – View original article on