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How to Avoid Link Spam and Getting Banned

Alternate Title
Three SEO Spamming Techniques that Can Get Your Website into Trouble

We all know the importance of that elusive top spot ranking on the Google search results page. In fact, an entire industry, has evolved to help businesses achieve precisely that result – the SEO industry.

Different SEO strategies are employed to secure high rankings for websites. And some of these strategies, which are intended to fool the search engines into bumping up the search rankings, while adding no real value to the searchers are collectively termed as spam (or webspam to distinguish it from email spam).

Such techniques often border on or are Blackhat SEO and are banned by Google, which means overuse of such techniques can get your website downgraded or even banned.

So What Exactly is Webspam?

It is all a matter of perspective. If you look at it objectively, what an SEO expert does is come
up with techniques that influence Google to place your website high on the search results. So
is SEO itself spam? Fortunately not, as Matt Cutts of Google has confirmed on this page http://searchengineland.com/google-says-seo-is-not-spam-98266. To quote Mr.
Cutts “SEO is a valid way to help people find what they are looking for via search engines”.

What we can infer from this statement is that any ‘invalid’ ways of influencing search engines
constitute webspam and will not be received kindly by Google.

Spammers Were Smart… Google Got Smarter

We have to admit that spammers are smart businessmen who took advantage of the loopholes
in the system to enhance their rankings. However the fact that remains that in the process that they were greatly inconveniencing searchers probably did not even cross their minds. (They belong to the ‘end
justifies the means’ school of thought). Thus Google has found ways to determine and spot spam websites (link pages, three-way-linking, link exchanges, etc) and have downgraded the value of such links so that they aren't as valuable as good quality article links or blog post links.

Three of the most common SEO spam techniques

(a) Keyword Stuffing

As search engine bots are designed to look for specific keywords while crawling the web,
keyword stuffing was the # 1 SEO spam tactic. Nonsense content stuffed with keywords,
automatically generated by software programs was used to enhance rankings.

Google’s algorithms are well up to the challenge of detecting keyword stuffing and can take
strict action on your website including banning it, as Matt Cutts explains on http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/avoid-keyword-stuffing/.

Thus why take that risk when with genuine relevant content, you not only rank higher on
organic results, but also add value to your readers and keep them coming back. Check out The SEO Checklist for a list of techniques for improving your SEO.

(b) Content Submission to Article Directories

Article marketing was considered a very useful (and easy) SEO technique. Getting articles
submitted to various article directories enhanced the online visibility and increased the chances
of higher search ranking.

But along the way, content farms entered the fray, focusing on submitting multiple copies of the same articles to the directories, rather than focusing on the quality original content itself.

The Google Panda update changed all of that. The Panda update is a content focused algorithm
change that aims to ensure that content available on websites is original and relevant and not
spammy. An important change brought about by Panda was that it reduced the relevance of
content on several popular directories such as ezine, goarticles, hubpages, articlesbase and
others.

HOWEVER if the content was original, then it became more important and more valuable for SEO.

(c) Link Spamming

Link popularity has always been an important factor for search engine ranking. And this led to the proliferation of manipulative link building practices such as reciprocal link exchange programs, paid links from links from link farms and obtaining backlinks through comment spamming. All these techniques focused on getting maximum number of links, without bothering about the relevance of the linking site.

The Google Penguin update changed all of that. The focus is now on natural links, anchor text
diversity, and diversity of the link profile.

Website owners beware. If you are entrusting your SEO to a third party, make sure that it is a
reputed White Hat SEO company like designSEO.ca.

And remember that SEO, like all advertising is a gamble. If a SEO person is trying to guarantee you huge results in a small amount of time, they're just trying to get your money and their guarantee is no more valuable than the piece of paper it is written on.

A true SEO expert will tell you that SEO takes time, at least 6 months, to see the full results. You need to be thinking long term White Hat SEO. Short term Black Hat SEO may look good on paper, but you will regret it later when your website gets banned or downgraded.

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