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Old 06-30-2004   #1
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Let's talk about search engine's penalties

After reading this thread called "I believed we got kick out of Google !?" it got me thinking about how much damage a search engine can do to company that really did not mean any harm, but instead they where lead to an error.

Imagine if the Internet Marketing Manager of a mayor brand company (say www.mayorbrand.com) knows his way around Internet marketing pretty well, but when it comes to SEO, he prefers to outsource it. This is very common as we SEMarketers know it. Therefore, they have a similar situation as our member friend from the other thread. Then, the situation "hits the fan" and now what?? Not very fair, right? Another member, by the name "Phoenix", gave very good recommendations of what to do to get Google to lift the penalty. This is just one example of what is happening today.

So, let's talk about search engine penalties. Google has their list and Yahoo has theirs, I sure the others have their own as well. However, it would be nice if we could put together a list of potential techniques that would trigger penalties in this thread and discuss them. Hopefully this will serve well in the future any company seeking SEO support to SEE HERE WHAT NOT TO DO.

Here is a list from Danny Sullivan's article for SearchEngineWatch Members called, "Search Engine Spamming" updated to April 2004:
  • Cloaking (or Code Swapping)
  • Doorway Pages
  • Keyword Stuffing
  • Invisible Text
  • Tiny Text
  • Page Spoofing / Meta Refresh / Redirection
  • Meta Tag Stuffing
  • Page Stuffing / Duplicate Pages
  • Multiple Title Tags
  • Domain Spamming / Mirror Sites
Please help me fill the list with new or old techniques that can get a site into a penalty and discuss them if you like to.
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Old 06-30-2004   #2
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Comment tags have been used to stuff keywords into in the past. From what I understand however, search engines do not bother reading comment tags.

Keyword stuffing in graphics, such as transparent gifs.
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Old 06-30-2004   #3
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Google Cracks Down article by Jennifer, editor at Search Engine Guide, suggests JavaScript "onmouseovers" as an alert. That is, when they go to Doorway Pages.
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Last edited by Terry Plank : 07-01-2004 at 12:59 PM. Reason: Add JavaScript
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Old 07-01-2004   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Plank
Google Cracks Down article by Jennifer, editor at Search Engine Guide, suggests java mouseovers as an alert. That is, when they go to Doorway Pages.
JavaScript mouseovers.

I'm sorry if that sounds pedantic but it's a big and important difference. I don't mean to be poking holes in helpful comments.

They didn't do anyone any favours when they renamed LiveScript to JavaScript.
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Old 07-01-2004   #5
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Wail, thanks. I edited my post to be clearer.
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Old 07-02-2004   #6
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Penalized for coding Base Element

Has anyone ever seen a penalty for using the "Base" element.

The base element is used to set the base URL that all document-relative paths in the page are considered relative to.

The code looks somthing like this:

<BASE HREF="http://www.website.com/">
<html>
<head>
<title>Title</title>
<meta name="description" content="Description">
<meta name="keywords" content="keywords">

Could the reason this person is being penalized have anything to do with the fact that they have their URL in their code like this?

- SEO1234
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Old 07-02-2004   #7
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SEO1234, welcome to the SEW Forum with your first post!

As for "Base" element, haven't heard anything about it being a problem. My experience is that it is usually flagrant violations that would lead to a penalty.
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Old 07-05-2004   #8
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For people that do not understand SEO I am not sure a raw list like this of "what not to do" is very helpfull unless they also get a lot more information about what each issues means and what the natural limits are. We do not want to end up with companies that are so afraid of doing anything, and generally fear SEO, that they completely stay away from the media. I've seen clients first hand that had got so paranoid, from reading things like this that i's almost funny .... "Will I be banned if I use my keyword in the Title?"

Let's look at some of the exceptions:

- Cloaking
As this is exactly the same technique used for personalization only the goal of the act makes the difference, not the act itself. Personally I've never seen sites that for legitimate reasons use personalization get penalized but we've all seen cloaked sites get kicked.

- Domain Spamming / Mirror Sites
There are lot's of lexamples of legitimate mirror sites: Tucows, ODP, Antivirus definition sites (that for the most part get the info at the same few sources), news-sites featuring streamed news etc. Those are not the kind of sites that will get penalized. Google.com and Google.dk is basically the same site - is that spam?

- Invisible Text
META-tags are invisible, but you do not get penalized for that Also, using CSS and layers you often have text that are initally hidden untill users make some action on the page. Again, I haven't seen any penalization for this.


This is just examples to show that I think it's very dangerous just to say: This is what not to do, without giving more of the details and exceptions that apply.
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Old 07-05-2004   #9
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Like I said, I highly recommend everone this reading that goes in much more detail about each element:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nacho
Danny Sullivan's article for SearchEngineWatch Members called, "Search Engine Spamming" updated to April 2004:
  • Cloaking (or Code Swapping)
  • Doorway Pages
  • Keyword Stuffing
  • Invisible Text
  • Tiny Text
  • Page Spoofing / Meta Refresh / Redirection
  • Meta Tag Stuffing
  • Page Stuffing / Duplicate Pages
  • Multiple Title Tags
  • Domain Spamming / Mirror Sites
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Old 08-03-2005   #10
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There's a lot missing from the article, I think it's being published in installments, the other stuff goes into more detail, I think perhaps the more extensive version may be published in the "members only" area.
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Old 08-04-2005   #11
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Some of the things I have come across that are not mentioned beforehand:

1.) Hidden Links - Typically done by using a small 1x1 transparent gif image and then hyperlinking somewhere. I have experienced this penalty myself and learned a hard lesson by it. back when Google and PageRank began to gain popularity and before they really came out against this and other so-called "spam" techniques, we would link back to our site using the above method on just about every web page we touched from several domains. Why? To build up link popularity of course. Then Google began to combat spam, particularly the type of spam that attempted to game their PageRank algorithm. What happened to us? We were banned from Google. At the time I didn't care much because first of all Google wasn't the most popular engine (seems a lifetime ago, huh) and secondly we did not depend solely on search engines for business. But eventually as Google gained popularity, I became concerned. We actually had to go and remove all those links (what a task that was), confess our fault to Google and beg for forgiveness. We were forgiven and eventually let back in but the whole process took about a year. Yikes!

2.) Linking To Other Sites That Are Under Penalty - I have seen this more with Yahoo than Google. We had a client that had committed two no-no’s, one of which I mention next but the other was linking to other sites that Yahoo had banned. All these sites were linking to one another. When the client removed the links, the penalty was lifted.

3.) Generating Hundreds/Thousands of Pages For AdSense - Again this is more of a Yahoo penalty than Google. I have seen on more than one occasion Yahoo penalize or even ban sites that have useless pages that exist only to generate AdSense ads. The client I mentioned in item # 2 was doing this and once the pages were remove, so was the penalty.
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Old 08-05-2005   #12
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Thumbs up Outstanding articles on Search Engine penalties!

Marcela, your articles Rock!

Someone please give this authority on the subject some reputation points.

Here they are:

Search Engine Penalties at Yahoo & MSN
August 04, 2005 - In the second of a two-part article, we look at search engine penalties applied by Yahoo and MSN, and how webmasters can avoid them, or get them removed once sites are in the penalty box.

Coping with Search Engine Penalties
August 03, 2005 - Search engine penalties are present and pervasive, and are a primary method used by search engines to control webmasters. Unless webmasters understand what they are and what to do about them, their websites could easily trigger a penalty, losing traffic and revenue.
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Old 08-05-2005   #13
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Then there are the other things that come up, like what happened to this member

http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/...ead.php?t=7180
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Old 08-09-2005   #14
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The recent articles by Marcela are indeed an excellent resource.

I'd just like to point out that applying to Site Match in the hopes that Yahoo will tell you why they're penalizing your site is not an effective strategy, in my experience.

Yahoo will just send you a form letter rejecting your application and listing common reasons as to why they ban sites from their index. It's almost as much help as going to Yahoo's webmaster guidelines page (which is to say, almost no help at all).

If anyone else has had a different experience with this approach, I'd appreciate their input.
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