SEO SP@M that can kill your website! The SEO No-No's - Part I

By Wolfgang Jaegel and Gregory Smyth

Please note, we neither encourage nor endorse or suggest the use of any of the techniques discussed in this article. What we can tell you is that we definitely do not use them and our clients' sites continue to rank very well on Google, Yahoo and MSN. Always keep in mind that a proper organic way of optimizing your site will take longer than to Sp@m your way to the top rankings BUT you will stay at the top for a long time without running into the risk of being dropped completely form the Search Engine Index!

Link Farms
Link farms and Link Farm Sp@m - aka FFA (free-for-all link sites) were born when more and more webmasters learned that inbound links could heavily influence website rankings. A link farm is a group of web pages and websites that all hyperlink to every other page and website in the group. Although some link farms were created by hand, most were created through automated programs and services. A link farm is one of the worst forms of sp@mming Search Engine's index (sometimes called sp@mexing or sp@mdexing). However, you always have to keep in mind that the Search Engines (actually the people working on the Search Algorithms) evolve with the times! Therefore Google quickly devalued and eventually eliminated the page rank value and ranking positions it assigned to pages with an inordinate collection of links, non-related links and with signs of artificial link building (too many links in a too short a time frame). Nevertheless, link farms still exist as uninformed webmasters and many unethical SEO firms continue to use them.

Mini-Site Networks
In the early stages of the Google Page Rank algorithm, mini-site networks were created to exploit vulnerabilities. Domain names were cheap and the infrastructure costs VPS (Virtual Private Servers) or dedicated servers were cost effective, making it an attractive option. Many mini-site networks were designed to act as leader pages just as if they were much larger sites. Many topic and/or product specific sites are created, with the goal of linking back to the main site. Each of these mini-sites would use a keyphrase rich URL and be especially designed to meet the requirements of specific major search engines. Several SEO firms created artificial link density by weaving mini-site networks from multiple clients together. In the early stages of the Google Page Rank algorithm this unethical method heavily influenced Google's perception of the importance of the main sites. However during the summer of 2004 Google did penalize several very prominent SEO firms for using this technique and banned many of their client sites.

Leader Pages
Leader pages are a series of similar pages designed to target 1 or 2 specific keywords and meet requirements of different search engine algorithms. Some people took this a step further and created a page for each phrase and for each search engine. This is one of the original SEO tricks dating back to the earliest days of search when there were almost a dozen leading search engines sorting less than a billion documents. Leader pages are a form of the doorway page technique. At present, it is considered sp@m by the major Search Engines as they can see multiple copies of what is virtually the same document. Besides, this technique is no longer practical as on-site optimization has much less of an impact on your rankings than proper off-site optimization and Search Engines consider a far wider range of factors to calculate your sites quality score than the arrangement or density of keywords found in a unique page.

More in Part II..