Friday, March 25, 2005

Getting Banned by Google Part 2

So, what will get you banned by Google? Frankly, there are no hard and fast rules. Even Google’s own guidelines aren’t particularly helpful.

The discussion on what works, what doesn’t and what will get you banned boils down to a nauseatingly repetitive debate between proponents of white hat and black hat SEO “experts”. The colour coding is supposed to make the whole thing idiot proof: white is [thinking hard]… Good! And black is Evil! Or as the white guys prefer to put it, their methods are “ethical”. I’ve seen the “ethical” label being used even by those relatively few SEO people that I actually do respect but it doesn’t cut even butter.

Guys, ethics don’t come into it. Unless you’ve been conned by a dodgy SEO like Traffic-Power (now which doesn’t deliver results (or gets you banned in the case of TP) and refuses to refund you, in which case the SEO’s behaviour is clearly unethical because conning and fraud always are.

But the white hats refer to any practices that aren’t fully inspired by Google’s guidelines as unethical. Google itself refers to spamdexing as the practice of manipulating the search results. But that means we’re all spammers, every single one of us wants to manipulate the search results. Simply building a high quality content site and submitting it to Google (better even to have it linked to a few indexed pages) means you’ll be influencing the search results.

Here’s a few “techniques” that can get you banned. But even if they don’t always, they can also cause your page rankings to drop like a pack of lead balloons: the end-result is the same; strongly reduced search engine visibility.

Invisible text: not worth mentioning any more really. That’s very old hat but don’t try and revive it.

Keyword stuffing: over-use of keyphrases in the text body of your page or in the title, target and alt attributes of HTML tags isn’t recommended either. It isn’t really clear whether this will get you banned: I mentioned a site in my earlier post on nigritude ultramarine that seems to use this method successfully, but it does lead to a site that is totally user unfriendly and thus useless anyway.

Cloaking, doorway pages and redirects: first a little word on doorway pages. These have attracted negative attention from most SEs through over-use but many use similar pages successfully and legitimately. It could be argued that most well constructed deep content pages serve exactly that purpose, by using backlinks to main pages, ordering pages, which otherwise would get very little exposure at all.

It’s the use of doorway pages in such a way that this content only ever gets seen by bots, never by human visitors that turns it into deception. Using redirects or mouse-over scripts, these SEOs create content that is optimised for the SEs but never gets seen by human visitors, who get redirected immediately to the SEO’s Client pages.

Several SEO firms advertise this kind of service openly on their pages. Here’s an example from a leading SEO firm:

This is because we use the text you give us to form the content on your Everest web pages. This content is then optimised according to each search engines ranking algorithm.

Note that competitors who are specifically looking for this content will be able to view it but everyone else will only ever see your normal website.

Getting into bed with these guys is risky: get found out and you’re out.

Some people who have been banned after being conned by an unscrupulous SEO seem to think it’s unfair that Google bans also the Client sites of that particular bunch of crooks, but if anyone has temporarily obtained an unfair advantage by hiring an aggressive SEO, they’ve only got their just deserves in my opinion.

Many feel Google has some “moral” obligation to protect individual webmasters’ livelihoods, by giving them high rankings and maintaining them. Truth of the matter is, Google doesn’t even have the obligation to index your pages, let alone rank them highly. By definition they also reserve the right to exclude anyone from their index (something which they only do rarely and reluctantly). Got banned? Set things right, explain, apologise, beg and plead for re-inclusion. Period.


At 4:22 PM, Blogger Gert said...

I'm not sure I share your view on SearchKing. Listen, I wouldn't pay a penny for a link myself but have no problem with others doing so.

A couple of sites pay me for placing small ads on some of my pages. These are nothing but highly relevent, targeted, unilateral links in the "eyes" of the Googlebot. Does that make me a bad guy??

Let's face it: everybody manipulates links to some extent. Reciprocal linking isn't so sqeaky clean either...

What about directory submissions? Those worth their salt provide a direct link to your site (not a redirect or something like that) but require a small set up fee. I see nothing wrong it that. Most "ethical" SEOs will recommend you get into some directories.
Link manipulation? Not in my book...


Post a Comment

<< Home