The ranking of your website on search engines is a vital to your overall marketing campaign, and there are ways to improve your site’s popularity through legitimate methods. Unfortunately, dishonest webmasters seeking to improve their popularity by deceiving search engines are causing the rules to be tightened.
Search Engines are now on the look out for “spam” pages and sites that have increased their rankings by artificial methods. When a search engines detects such a site, that site is demoted in ranking or completely removed from the search engine’s index.
Unfortunately, sometimes completely legitimate sites are being mistaken for these rule breakers. Your page may be in danger of being caught up in the “spam” net and tossed from a search engine’s index, even though you have done nothing to deserve such treatment. There are things you can do – and things you should avoid – which will prevent this kind of misperception.
Link popularity is mostly based on the quality of sites you are linked to. Google started these criteria for assigning website ranking, and most search engines on the Internet now use it. There are legitimate ways to go about increasing your link popularity, but at the same time, you must be wary about which sites you choose to link to. Google often imposes penalties on sites that have linked to other sites solely for the purpose of artificially boosting their link popularity. They have actually labeled these links “bad neighborhoods.”
You cannot be penalized when a bad neighbourhood links to your site; penalty happens only when your site links to a bad neighbourhood. But you must check, and recheck, all the links that are active on your links page to make sure you haven’t linked to a bad neighbourhood.
The first thing to check out is whether or not the pages you have linked to have been penalized. The easiest way to do this is to download the Google toolbar at You will then see that most pages are given a “Pagerank” which is represented by a sliding green scale on the Google toolbar.
Do not link to any site that shows NO green at all on the scale. If the scale is completely gray it is more than likely that these pages have been penalized. If you are linked to these pages, you may catch their penalty, and like a disease, it may be difficult to recover from the infection.
Any site showing even a tiny sliver of green on their scale has not been penalized, and their rank may improve in the future. However, do make sure that you closely monitor these kind of links to ascertain that at some point they do not receive a penalty once you have linked up to them from your links page.
Another trick that some webmasters use to artificially boost their Search Engine ranking is the use of hidden text. Search engines usually use the words on web pages as a factor in formulating their rankings, which means that if the text on your page contains your keywords, you are likely to be given a higher search engine ranking than a page that does not contain text inclusive of keywords.
Some webmasters have gotten around this formula by hiding their keywords in such a way so that they are invisible to any visitors to their site. For example, they have used the keywords but made them the same color as the background color of the page, such as the use of yellow keywords on a yellow background. You cannot see these words when you view the site – but the search engine spider can spot them easily! A spider is the program search engines use to index web pages, and when it sees these keywords, it goes back and increases that page’s ranking.
But search engines have figured these tricks out. As soon as a search engine perceive the use of hidden text the page will be penalized.
The downside of this is that sometimes the spider is a bit heavy handed and will penalize a page by mistake. For example, if the background color of your page is blue, and you have placed blue text inside a white box, the spider will only take note of the blue text and assume you are using hidden text. To avoid any risk of false penalty, simply not to assign the same color to text as the background color of the page – EVER!
Another potential issue that can result in a penalty is called “keyword stuffing.” It is important to have your keywords appear in the text on your page, but sometimes you can go a little overboard in your efforts to please those spiders. A search engine uses “Keyphrase Density” to determine if you are trying to artificially boost their ranking. If the density is too high the Search Engine will penalize your site.
The density ratio is difficult to exceed without your text sounding like “gobbledygook” – unless your keyword is part of your company name. If this is the case, it is easy for keyword density to climb. So, if your keyword is “First Mortgage” be sure you don’t use this phrase in every sentence. Carefully edit the text on your site so that the copy flows naturally and the keyword is not repeated continually. A good guide is your keyword should never appear in more than half the sentences on the page.
The final potential risk factor is known as “cloaking.” Cloaking is when the server directs a visitor to one page and a search engine spider to a different page. The page the spider sees is “cloaked” because it is invisible to regular traffic, and deliberately set-up to raise the site’s search engine ranking. A cloaked page tries to feed the spider everything it needs to increase that page’s ranking to the top of the list.
Search engines have responded to this act of deception with extreme hostility, imposing steep penalties on these sites. The problem for you is that sometimes pages are cloaked for legitimate reasons.
To be on the safe side, be sure that you are aware that absolutely no cloaking is acceptable. Cloaking of any kind will put your website at great risk.
Be sure to monitor your site closely and avoid any appearance of artificially boosting your rankings. You must be diligent in increasing your link popularity and your ranking, you must also be diligent to avoid being unfairly penalized.