How not to undertake dodgy search engine optimisation that will destory your rank!
There are many good professional webdesigners around but sadly SEO is still reasonable new, and understanding of optimization in the general webmaster community is so poor, that it is still over run by get rich quick scams which promise fast and unbeatable results by using borderline SEO techniques that are more than likely going to destroy your website forever. Here I’m going to discuss some of those techniques and how to identify if someone is offering you them or if you have previously been the victim of them with your website.
Still suprisingly common, applying hidden text is simply putting lots of keyword rich text to your webpages in a way that is either completely invisible or isn’t easily visible to the user or sometimes yourself if you didnt design your own website.
Different methods are used to hide this text. Sometimes it is simply set to the same colour as the background. If you see a large area of blank space in a page try dragging your mouse across it while holding down the mouse button. If there is text there you’ll see it highlighted. If you find any on your site get rid of it immediately and ask yourself why is it there, have I been hacked?, did my SEO guru charge me!
Try viewing the source code of your site. Are there any paragraphs of text there that you don’t see on the page? If so they may be hidden by various means. There may be a style applied to them that makes them invisible such as display: none – this could be either in-line or via a style sheet. They could also be in an absolutely positioned div which is set to be off-screen; making it left: -1000px for instance. The idea here is that the search engines will read the text in the code and give the page more importance because of it, without cluttering up the graphics-heavy pages with all that offending text. This is often used as a shortcut where a webmaster doesn’t want to change or redesign their site. However the search engines can increasingly detect this sort of disguise and will penalise you for it. Quite often free website templates have hidden text embedded on the template as people dont know html but if you find it….Get rid of it and fast!
Often closely related to hidden text, keyword stuffing attempts to further increase the appearance of keywords by inserting it in any place that it can go. ALT tags are a prime target – sometimes you will find images that have long sections of keywords added to both their alt tags and their title tags. Such tags should be used only for their proper purposes; the alt tag is there for people viewing the page with images turned off and for visually impaired people using screen readers, and it should contain enough information to tell them what the images contain and nothing more. If you are unsure then hover your cursor over a picture and text will show up explaining what the image contains.
There are a number of ways that duplicate content can be used in an unethical manner. Having set up a site you can purchase another domain name and then put a copy of the same site up on that domain address. Sometimes this is done with completely different addresses and sometimes with different suffixes of the same domain – so you may have www.rubbishseo.com, www.rubbishseo.co.uk, www.rubbishseo.org etc. The idea is to have multiple sites all ranking in the top ten and pushing competition out of the indexed pages when a user searches the keywords.
Once again Google,Yahoo,Bing and others engines have got wise to this and if they find duplicate content then they will remove the duplicates from their indexes and may even remove the “original” if they think it was deliberate. If you have multiple sites with the same content get rid of the duplicates. If you want to use the domain names then either put up separate sites on them or point them at your main site using either DNS redirection or 301 redirects which is the easiest and safest way.
There is another evil technique involving duplicate content – stealing someone else’s called plagiarism. The dodgy website owner checks the rankings for the keywords he’s interested in, goes to the sites that are number one on the search engines, and steals their text to put on his own site in the hope that it is the text that is producing the ranking. Of course this is a clear breach of copyright. If you find that someone has stolen your content from your website then you should email them and request that it gets removed and also threaten legal action. Do remember that alot of “webmasters” dont know its copyright theft so a simply email is normally more than enough to scare them off from doing it again.