Spamdexing: The Processed Keyword Products of Web Design

by Content Solutions on July 2, 2008

Hormel introduced its renowned processed meat product, SPAM, in the late 1930s. It was highly popular for many years, and was found in every pantry. After a while, however, Spam developed a less than favorable reputation and was laughingly referred to as mystery meat. Today, while you might find a stray can on your grocer’s shelf, it is not considered to be quality meat by any means.

In the mid-1990’s Spamdexing, a widely popular development technique, made search engines less useful. And just as it’s pork-based cousin fell out of favor, this practice has developed a very dubious reputation. Spamdexing occurs when site owners build their site with unethical practices with the sole goal of tricking search engines into ranking them higher. Sites employing these techniques truly are processed keyword products. In fact, spamdexing methods come in two different varieties: content spam and link spam.

Content Spam

Content spam is the changing the true view that a search engine has on a website. Content spam includes:

  • Keyword stuffing: cramming keywords onto the page to increase the keyword count in order to rank higher on the results page of a search engine-even if it makes the page confusing.
  • Hidden or invisible unrelated text: a tricky way to hide keywords by placing white text on a white background (white on white), or black text on a black background (black on black). This way, the user will not be able to see the keywords, but will have a higher keyword count.
  • Meta tag stuffing: repeating keywords over and over that are unrelated to the site’s content. This also increases the site’s keyword count that could help the site rank higher.
  • “Gateway” or doorway pages: a single, non-informative, and keyword packed page that usually has a link into the actual site, which is marked by “click to enter.”
  • Scraper sites: sites which copy and take information (without permission) from the search engine result pages to gather information to build a new website. Scraper sites usually have a huge amount of advertisements with a lack of actual information. They can also redirect users to completely different sites.

Link Spam

Link spam is the spamdexing method that employs links between pages that serve a purpose other than providing information or anything valuable at all. Link spam includes:

  • Link farms: a community of web sites that reference or link to all the sites in the group.
  • Hidden links: placing links inside a website in a manner in which users can’t find them. This increases the link popularity, which can increase the site’s rankings.
  • “Sybil attack”: an attack in which the attacker destroys the reputation system of purposeful computer networks by creating a large number of false entities, using them to gain a large influence.
  • Spam blogs: simply fake blogs. These “fake” blogs are specifically made for spamming users. They can provide wrong information, or can even provide stolen text. Spam blogs are also known as splogs.
  • Page hijacking: achieved by copying or imitating a popular site. It can have similar images or similar text to the original site. The copied site looks similar to spiders, but can redirect searchers to unworthy, inappropriate pages.
  • Buying expired domains: Some link spammers save a Domain Name System on old sites. Once the sites expire, the spammers buy the expired site, and use it to their advantage. They place links to their own personal site on the expired site, which increases the link count and can raise their rankings.

Just as your guest probably won’t come to dinner if you serve them Spam, search engines will ban you if you practice spamdexing. Avoiding using these tricky ways of spamdexing will improve the quality of your site, and will give your site a chance to grow and become the exceptional site that you have always wanted!

Sara Sherman is the newest member of the Content Solutions team and is delighted to be a part of meeting your content needs.

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