In Feb 2006, BMW’s official site was blacklisted by Google for indulging in unethical SEO activities that manipulated the page ranking system. Getting blacklisted by Google would mean that your site’s PR suddenly drops to zero and no more pages from your site will be indexed by Google basically denying your site’s search visibility.
Black hat SEO (spamdexing) is the collective term to describe such bad SEO activities. These methods, for sure, bring in immediate visibility to your website or blog but are almost certain to be banned by Google sooner or later. In this post, I shall try to explain the SEO activities that are considered wrong by the search engines and in particular Google.
Most Commonly Found Black Hat SEO methods
The following are the commonly found black hat SEO approaches.
#1 Keyword Stuffing: Here, we are not talking about the controlled way of keyword inclusion as discussed in our last post (blog post seo). But they actually stuff so many keywords in the meta tag as well as page body so many times (in some cases keyword-only pages as well may be there) that these pages will sabotage search engine’s attempt to find pages with the right content as indicated in the meta tags.
Stuffed keywords are not only seen in meta tags but also in hidden text, Image alt tags, div regions, areas beyond the screen co-ords, noscript region, very small font-sized text, text with background color etc.
#2 Doorway pages: These are the pages that do not contain any good information readable by the humans but are maintained for search engine bots alone. Usually, stuffed with keywords and links alone, they are primarily there to attract search visits via great page ranks that they usually have. The reader, after landing there, will be automatically redirected to some other page (even unrelated to what they searched for). BMW was penalized for this approach, as I understand.
Doorway pages are also known as entry pages or jump pages.
Please note that the Landing pages are not Doorway pages. Landing pages are usually used to provide the content summary to the search visitors and they are genuine in nature.
#3 Cloaking: Cloaking is an attempt to fool the search engines by providing a particular version of a page for the search engine bots to index and actually another version to the human visitors to read. This is a different form of doorway pages, in a way. The methodology uses IP addresses, user-agent information etc to distinquish between bots and humans.
#4 Link farming: Link farms refer to a huge number of backlinks provided to a particular URL to improve its page rank and hence improved search hits. Link farm approaches can be via manual link exchanges (reciprocal links), automatic exchanges via scripts, bulk linking, multi-way linking etc. Usually, link farming is considered spam when large numbers of inbound links are coming in to a particular URL especially from totally unrelated content.
#5 Google bombing: This refers to the way of artificially inflating the search rank (positioning within the search results) of a particular page via providing huge number of links with the same anchor text pointing to that page. Google bombing was very common until a year ago before Google changed their algorithms (Remember how some of those evil minded people spoilt Microsoft’s name via Google bombing. The same had happened to George Bush as well. In both cases, some funny literal search resulted in hits to the pages mentioned above)
Usually, the result set fetched in via Google bombing contain many irrelevant links.
A word of caution
To be on the safer side, it’s always better to avoid the above mentioned methods and stick to the so-called White hat SEO methodology. In fact, Google has come up with a bunch of Quality Guidelines for Webmasters and it’ll be really good if you could go through that documentation once. Also, be careful while signing up with any SEO services that promise quick result and it is always good to spend some time to understand their SEO approaches up front.
In the case of BMW, Google reverted the death penalty after the former apologized and stopped their black hat SEO activities that was apparently done by external campaigners. The same consideration might not come through for everyone else and hence say NO to Black hat approaches!