Deep in Spam! Or Are We?

Search engine spam was created by people looking to gain the upper hand in the SEO race and lazy marketers that want everything on auto pilot. It exists to trick search engines into thinking that a website should have a higher ranking than it actually deserves. This form of spam makes use of unrelated keywords, keyword stuffing, deceptive redirection, doorway pages, hidden texts and links.


But Google is onto most of the common spam techniques that used to work, so what is there left of spam? Are we really that deep in spam or is the horizon getting a bit clearer?

Hidden Text and Links

Hidden text and links within web pages are used to insert hidden keywords directly into the content of the website. Spammers can use text that matches the background so that spiders read it and believe it to be relevant.

Another trick is to hide texts and links under another layer so that it is not visible to the naked eye. By using CSS, people can use this content to gain a higher search engine ranking without the average viewer ever detecting the information is even on the page. Rather than placing it under a layer, they can also place it outside of the page’s view so that website viewers cannot see it, but the spiders can. Spammers can even gain a higher search engine ranking by linking to other pages by using links that are only as wide as a period. Although the search engine will still follow the link, it is impossible for the user to do so.

Lucky for us, Google and other search engines have gotten really good at catching these types of hacks with ease.


The moment you click on the link, the page may try to redirect you to a completely different page or site. This deceptive redirection uses a shadow page that ranks highly in search engine ratings. Once a user tries to click on the page, they are redirected to a website that often features porn, drugs or something totally different than the original search engine query. Another one that Google catches early on.


Spammers can also use cloaking to change the way users view the webpage. The spiders see one form of the web page while the user is present with another. A server-side script can identify whether the user is a spider or not and sends out a different web page to be viewed. This ultimately results in a web site being viewed that would never have otherwise been clicked on by the user.

This is a bit harder for search engines to detect if done carefully. Some hacks know how to get this done in stealth mode, so this is still a concern. On the bright side, 9 out of 10 will do a lousy job and get caught.

Doorway Pages and Keyword Stuffing

For doorway pages, an actual web page exists that ranks in the SERP. This web page is often overly optimized (hopefully the new over optimization penalty may cut them down) so that viewers will see it. Once it is clicked on, the web page will redirect the user to another page.

Keyword stuffing entails putting extra keywords onto a page to make it have a higher keyword density. These spammers also use unrelated keywords to drive traffic towards their page. Although it may work in the short run, in the long run the website will no longer be allowed to operate if people try it. Search engine spiders will notice the high density of keywords and yank it from the web. Nevertheless, people still use this ancient method in overwhelming numbers!

Comment Spam Penalization

A new form of spam Google is going to keep an eye out in one of the next updates. It is called comment spam, but it actually refers to any outstanding form of link building that out-shadows your backlink profile. So if your backlink profile consists of 30% or more comment links, certain anchor text, any specific type of link in mass numbers, you are subjected to Google’s spam filter and after that either penalization, or most likely a drop in rankings due to devaluation of those links. So the most important thing to do regarding link building is to go for maximum diversity and not stick with just one or two methods you prefer!

Link Farms

Last on the list of spamming methods to avoid are link farm manipulations, or you don’t have to, Google will do it for you, just like with blog networks a while back. That got many websites down, and I’m sure that people will not learn after that. In a few month I will be getting a mail announcing a launch of a new blog network, only they will most likely call it by a different name and claim its bullet proof.

Anyway, most of these spam methods don’t work anymore, so the only spam we can expect in the future is linking. But Google is polishing their filters, and it seems like they are doing well to fight it. Although most don’t realize it, but Google has actually cut down on a great deal of spam over the years, this article just confirms some of the most notorious ones!


Edit: I feel sorry for those who don’t read the entire article! Well it is April 1st and you all know what that means, I planted an intruder, most of you know which one it is, although in the near future something like that might happen. But, just to be sure, the segment about Content Spam Penalization is an April Fools day Joke!

Zac is a link building specialist and a seasoned SEO professional. He manages a team of link builders and actively promotes some of Australia's biggest brands. Zac is an active blogger and also maintains Dejan SEO's news and updates section.

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