The Game of High Search Engine Ranking
Some tricks might get you banned.

How would you feel if you woke up tomorrow morning to find your top 10 search engine ranking gone? If youve been relying on trickery to improve your placement, experts agree that its only a matter of time before it all catches up with you. And depending on what youve been up to, you could find your website banned altogether.

Who wants to face renaming their company, registering a new domain name, getting new web hosting, fixing the offended website, and waiting 1–12 weeks to get back into the search engines?

There are definite things you can do to help improve your search engine ranking – we know that search engines seem to like certain things – but that recipe, as it were, changes, and often. What gives you a high search engine ranking today may not factor so importantly tomorrow, or next month, it may not be important at all. And what works for Google, may have little effect on Alta Vista.


How does search engine ranking work?

A search engines robot visits your site, reviewing your content, including links to and from your site, and even scrutinizing the way your site has been constructed. Next, your site is run through a set of algorithms (rules to calculate your ranking) and compared with other sites with similar keywords and content, and then a ranking is determined.

These algorithms are well guarded secrets; otherwise, who would want to use a search engine with fixed results?

So, the formula is (a) kept secret and (b) changed often – keeping everyone on their toes.

Here are some past and present tricks to avoid.

Doorway pages

These are generic pages that are optimized for a specific keyword, contain little valuable information, whose sole purpose is to direct traffic to a site.

For instance, youre looking for golf clubs and you click one of the search engines results. Youre now looking at a page that says "Golf Clubs" at the top, followed by perhaps a couple of paragraphs of non-sensical text, and then, a bunch of links for blonde women with big — well, you get the idea.

There are several software packages available that will generate doorway pages, essentially flooding the web with thousands of bogus pages. They get indexed and ranked, then eventually discovered and purged.

Once the search engine algorithms change, those thousands of doorway pages need to be tossed out and redone with new parameters. And if the offending domain names have been penalized, youll be registering a bunch of new ones and arranging their hosting.

Duplicate content

Registering ten domain names and uploading identical content to those sites will not improve your ranking. In fact, many search engines, like Google, will only index the content from one site and drop the others from the index altogether.

Invisible text and one-pixel gifs

In an effort to hide links or text from the human eye, some web designers try disguising text by making it the same colour as a pages background. The text is still indexed by a search engine, but it isnt seen by humans. Its a trick that used to yield some results, but doesnt any more.

Similarly, hiding one-pixel, transparent gifs on a page and creating links with those images will also get you into trouble.

Keyword stuffing

Over-using keywords on a page is called stuffing, and it can hurt you in the long run. Yes, writing content thats rich in your chosen keywords is important, but overdoing it will not necessarily bring better results. Read your content out loud. If it sounds inane, youre probably stuffing.

Keyword META tag abuse

This tag is pretty much dead amongst the major players. Id still prepare them because you never know when things may change, or what new directories will pop up. Dont repeat a keyword more than three times in the META tag, and each page of your site needs a separate set of META tags. Make sure that keywords appearing in the tag also appear in the pages written content.

Link farms

When researching how to get a high search engine ranking, you no doubt have stumbled across link popularity, that is: how many sites link to yours and where are your outbound links going. In an effort to boost rates, link farms (sites consisting of nothing but links) have developed all kinds of schemes to artificially increase your sites link popularity.

But search engines dont like them and often disregard their results.

Try and get good and relevant sites linking to yours, sites that have something in common with your subject matter. If Google sees a web design site linking to another one about design, it takes notice; but if Google sees a web designer linked to an auto body shop site, it notices, but its not overly excited about it. Search engines are looking for quality and quantity.

More is not always better

Whenever someone thinks theyve found a loophole that improves a search engine ranking, suddenly the webs on fire. If 10 META keywords are good, 100 is better; if 10 links are good, 50 are fantastic. We see it time and again: someone says, Google really likes a good title. Suddenly, all websites have 16-word titles.

Search engines really like domain names jammed with keywords separated by hyphens, – and the next thing you know youre finding domain names crammed 10 keywords and hyphens. No, not hyphens, underscores, someone else claims.

If people spent as much time creating good content for their websites as they did trying to come up with ways to trick the search engines, they'd probably be surprised at the results.

I'm sorry if you don't want to hear it, but there are no sure-things or guaranteed top search engine placement techniques. There are no tricks or secrets. There's no quick recipe for a top 10 ranking.

The only sure thing about search engine placement is that its a lot of hard work – and good content gets good results. We can help.


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