Digital Marketing

Spam Issues: When Search Engines Get Fooled

When you hear the word spam, what comes to mind? You probably think of all those annoying emails with their poorly worded and often obscene messages that clutter your inbox daily. That’s spam, all right, but there’s another kind of spam that’s directed at search engines.

Understanding What Spam Is

When you normally think of spam, the first thing that comes to mind is either the canned meat product or the junk email that’s clogging up your inbox. When we here in SEO‐land talk about spam, however, we mean something a little different than meat by‐products, unwanted emails, or British comedy troupes. Search engine spam (also sometimes known as spamdexing) is any tactic or web page that is used to deceive the search engine into a false understanding of what the whole website is about or its importance.

Discovering the Types of Spam

In the following sections, we talk a little about what types of spam there are in SEO‐land and what not to do in order to keep your site from getting penalized or even pulled out of the engines by accident. Spam is any attempt to deceive the search engines into ranking a page when it does not deserve to be ranked. In the following sections, we describe spam that is known to be detected and punished by the search engines.

Hidden text/links

One of the more obvious ways to spam a site is to insert hidden text and links in the content of the web page (the content of a site being anything that the user can see). All text has to be visible to the user on the site. Hidden content can be defined as text that appears within the rendered HTML code that is not visible on the page to the user without requiring user‐interaction in order to see it. Hidden text can simply be a long list of keywords, and the hidden links increase the site’s popularity. Examples of using hidden text and links are

Doorway pages

A doorway page is a web page submitted to search engine spiders that has been designed to satisfy the specific algorithms for various search engines but is not intended to be viewed by visitors. Basically they do not earn the rankings but instead deceive the search engines into rankings by design and keyword‐stuffing tricks that you’d never want to put on a page for a user to see.

Doorway pages are there to spam the search engine index by cramming it full of relevant keywords and phrases so that it appears high on the results page for a particular keyword, but when the user clicks it, he or she is automatically redirected to another site or page within the same site that doesn’t rank on its own.

Deceptive redirection

Spammers create shadow page/domains that have content that ranks for a particular search query (the words or phrase you type into the search text box), yet when you attempt to access the content on the domain, you are redirected to a shady site (often having to do with porn, gambling, or drugs) that has nothing to do with your original query.

Last word

Be sure to mention “spam” in your message, click Dislike, and provide the essential details, like the URL and the query you used, so that Bing can research the issue.

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