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Search Engine Spam

Find all of our SEO/SEM newsletter articles relating to web spam below. To receive new articles by email, subscribe to the High Rankings Advisor now.

Google Penalties For Sites That Aren't Optimized For Mobile

August 14, 2013
Will Google rank a site poorly if it is not optimized for mobile devices?   Read More >>

Low Quality Pages: Redirects or 404s?

August 14, 2013
Should we 301-redirect 10,000 of low-quality pages to a single page or delete them entirely? Read More >>

Spammy Inbound Links

August 14, 2013
How do we get rid of our spammy inbound links? Read More >>

Why Links You Place Yourself Aren't Really Links

July 31, 2013
Jill Whalen explains why you should forget about "SEO link building." Read More >>

Outdated Keyword Optimization Techniques that Could Be Killing Your Rankings

July 17, 2013
Today I've got a guest article about how to optimize your content for today's Google. Read More >>

4 Google Trust Factors That Can Provide Negative Signals About Your Website

June 19, 2013
While just about anything you do with your site that makes it seem spammy (such as keyword stuffing, for example) would also make it seem less trustworthy, Google now looks beyond just the obvious. Read More >>

Stuff You Might Like

May 8, 2013
Unnatural Links Recovery Guide Read More >>

Same Content on Multiple Pages

April 10, 2013
Is it OK to do basically the same content on multiple pages but change up maybe heading titles for those pages? Read More >>

Templated Content on Multiple Pages

April 10, 2013
Is it okay to have the same few sentences on every page of your website? Read More >>

High Rankings Question of the Week

April 10, 2013
Are you happy, sad or indifferent when Google puts out a new Panda / Penguin update? Read More >>

Merry-Go-Round Sites

February 13, 2013
With the introduction of the Panda filter by Google (originally dubbed "Farmer") in February 2011, one commonality of sites that were hit was what I called merry-go-round sites. Read More >>

3 Months and Still No Penguin Recovery

January 30, 2013
Our site has been affected by Google's Penguin update. Our website traffic and search queries are down almost 80%. Read More >>

Is Semi-Hidden Text Bad for SEO?

January 30, 2013
Is using hidden text within class tags ideal for SEO, or should it be avoided? Read More >>

Sneaky Footer Links and Other Footer Abuses That Google Dislikes

January 16, 2013
In my "18 SEO Killers" article from the end of last year, I mentioned footer links as a potential SEO problem. I know this confused many people because I didn't explain what I meant by them. This article takes an in-depth look at footer abuses.
Read More >>

My 7 Most Popular 2012 SEO Articles

January 2, 2013
Missed any of Jill's articles in 2012? Do not fear, today's HRA recaps the most popular ones! Read More >>

SEO and Duplicate Content Issues That Hurt Google Traffic

December 5, 2012
As part of my SEO for 2013 and beyond series, I promised to provide more in-depth information about the "SEO killers" I mentioned last time. Today I'm delving into duplicate content as it relates to SEO.
Read More >>

High Rankings Question of the Week

December 5, 2012
What sorts of duplicate content do you see frequently on websites which cause SEO issues? Read More >>

18 SEO Killers You Must Clean Up and Avoid for 2013 and Beyond

November 14, 2012
There's a lot of talk lately of Google having finally killed SEO through their Panda and Penguin algorithms, which continue to ensnare more and more websites with every new update. So is SEO really (finally) dead? Read More >>

High Rankings Question of the Week

November 14, 2012
What are the top 3 website / SEO issues you've seen that were likely to have caused traffic losses from any of the Google Panda / Penguin updates? Read More >>

Wasting Client Money With Some Unnatural Link Removal Requests

September 5, 2012
This week, rather than a High Rankings Question of the Week, I've got a rant of the week instead. Read More >>

What Are Low-Quality Pages and How Do You Fix Them?

August 8, 2012
In some of my recent reviews of websites that have recently lost Google traffic, I've found a common thread: lots of low-quality content pages. But the interesting thing is that this wasn't the sort of low-quality content created by some scammy SEO in an attempt to boost search engine rankings. Read More >>

What to Do If You Receive an Unnatural Linking Message From Google

July 25, 2012
As you know, I've been reviewing tons of websites that have lost Google traffic lately. Most of the reasons that the sites lost favor with Google have been fairly obvious (to me)--especially the sites that have seen steep declines. Most of the reasons include any combination of... Read More >>

Paying for Penalties: Lies That Shady SEO Companies Tell

July 11, 2012
Ever since Panda and Penguin have hit, a lot of companies have lost a large percentage of their website visitors. Unfortunately, many of them were taken advantage of by shady SEO companies. Read More >>

High Rankings Question of the Week

July 11, 2012
Name some web spam you still see being offered by shady SEO companies. Read More >>

Advanced SEO Forum Thread of the Week

July 11, 2012
Re-Purposing Content. How Far Is Too Far? Read More >>

Your Most Common SEO Questions Answered

May 2, 2012
Today I browsed through the 3,500 or so SEO questions people asked at Google and chose the most common ones to answer.
Read More >>

High Rankings Question of the Week

May 2, 2012
Do you love or hate (or something in the middle) Google's Penguin Update? Read More >>

Advanced SEO Forum Thread of the Week

April 18, 2012
Have You Received a GWMT Notice: Artificial or Unnatural Links? Read More >>

Why SEO in All the Right Places Doesn't Cut It Anymore

October 5, 2011
Learn why many websites that were making their owners tons of money in the past through traditional SEO, no longer work as well "post Panda." Read More >>

Deceptive Marketing: A Necessary Evil for Search Marketers?

September 7, 2011
When building links or doing other search marketing tasks, it necessary to lie? Isn't that sort of thing exactly what gives marketers in general (not just search marketers) a bad reputation? Read More >>

High Rankings Question of the Week

September 7, 2011
Are dishonesty, stretching the truth, or white lies necessary to be a good marketer? Read More >>

Advanced SEO Forum Thread of the Week

June 29, 2011
Is "Hidden" Read More Text Okay? Read More >>

Who Keeps Spreading Silly SEO Stupidity, and Why?

June 15, 2011
Not a week goes by where a reader or a client doesn't ask me a question based on some bad SEO advice they heard or read somewhere. In this article, I try to figure out where it's coming from and why it gets spread. Read More >>

Twitter Question of the Week

June 15, 2011
What Bad SEO Advice Have You Heard Lately? Read More >>

Content Being Copied

June 1, 2011
One of our connections came across a horrible website that copied our homepage and used it for their "About Us" page. What can we do about it? Read More >>

Does Google Spam Still Work Post-Panda?

May 4, 2011
It's been more than 5 months since my open letter to Google lamenting the state of their search results and how web spam was getting the best of them. Jill takes a look at how far they've come with improving their search results. Read More >>

Twitter Question of the Week

May 4, 2011
Have you noticed much change in Google's results since Farmer / Panda? That is, less spam? Read More >>

Some Farm Aid for the Afflicted: Google Farmer Update

March 2, 2011
By now you've surely heard of the recent Google algorithm changes dubbed the "Farmer Update." This article highlights some of the interesting things I noticed that made me go hmmm...with the small set of sites I've looked at so far. Read More >>

Twitter Question of the Week

March 2, 2011
What're 1 or 2 main factors you feel caused massive drops in traffic to some sites w/Farmer update? Read More >>

Twitter Question of the Week

February 16, 2011
Is it too late to save SEO and its reputation from those who have made SEO = spam? Read More >>

Google (and Bing) Love Anchor Text Link Spam

February 2, 2011
I'm tired of Google (and Bing) returning sites that use anchor text link spam to get on the first page of results. Read More >>

Twitter Question of the Week

February 2, 2011
What type of web spam concerns/bothers you the most? Read More >>

Advanced SEO Forum Thread of the Week

February 2, 2011
Question About Mobile Site and Duplicate Content Read More >>

Google Sucks All the Way to the Bank!

January 19, 2011
Jill writes about why Google wants their organic search results to "suck just enough." Read More >>

Advanced SEO Forum Thread of the Week

January 19, 2011
Non-nefarious Cloaking Read More >>

Just Say No to SEO Articles!

November 17, 2010
Last week I was speaking with a potential client in need of SEO consulting who told me that they had been working on their product part e-commerce website over the past few months by adding "SEO articles" to it on a regular basis. Read More >>

Advanced SEO Forum Thread of the Week

October 6, 2010
Can Backlinks Have a Negative Effect? Read More >>

Dear Google...Stop Making Me Look Like a Fool!

September 22, 2010
Jill Whalen writes an open letter to Google lamenting the amount of spam still found in their search results. Read More >>

Twitter Question of the Week

September 22, 2010
What type of search engine spam do you see still working well in Google? Read More >>

Removing Links From a Site

July 28, 2010
What would be the best way for me to transition old pages off our website, while keeping up our SEO? They have a lot of links to other pages, some not related to our business. Read More >>

Advanced Forum Thread of the Week

July 28, 2010
Using Divs and JavaScript for SEO Purposes Read More >>

9 Steps to Diagnosing Lost Search Engine Traffic

June 30, 2010
For the past few weeks I've been tasked with reviewing a few different sites that have seen a loss in traffic – their owners hoped to find out why... I can usually make some educated guesses based on what I dig up in Google Analytics. Read More >>

Twitter Question of the Week

June 30, 2010
Have you seen sites obviously penalized by Google and, if so, what was the cause? Read More >>

Advanced SEO Forum Thread of the Week

June 30, 2010
Forum member "KemoSabe" wanted to mask a keyword-rich domain with a more memorable one for humans. Read More >>

Twitter Question of the Week

June 16, 2010
True or false? Today's SEO could be tomorrow's search engine spam with the turn of an algo crank. Read More >>

Search Engine Algorithm Changes Effects on SEO

June 16, 2010
Jill's response to whether today's SEO techniques could become tomorrow's search engine spam. Read More >>

Forwarded Domains

April 7, 2010
I have one main website and own about 10 other domain name versions that are similar. Read More >>

Ampersands and Search Engines

April 7, 2010
On my web page I have H2 tags that include the HTML ampersand (&) character code. I've been told that this confuses crawlers. Read More >>

There Is No Duplicate Content Penalty

March 24, 2010
Duplicate content has been and always will be a natural part of the Web. It's nothing to be afraid of. Read More >>

SEO Copywriting Tomfoolery

January 20, 2010
Do you have any info on the issue of spamdexing – specifically the practice of adding keywords into text unnaturally and then emphasizing just the keywords (for example, boldfacing and/or italicizing them)? Read More >>

Same Article on Blog and Website

January 20, 2010
Is it OK to have the same articles on your site as you do on your blog? And, if not, is it better to have a blog with a link back to your site, or to put the article directly on your site? Read More >>

Many Domain Names for SEO

January 20, 2010
I own many domain names related to my business. Would I have a problem with Google if I made one-page websites with good related copy on these domain names and linked the one-page websites back to my main website? Read More >>

A Decade of 21st Century SEO

January 6, 2010
I've been SEO'ing websites long before the 21st century began. Sometimes I feel I've been touting the same SEO processes and procedures for the past 10 years. Read More >>

BlindSearch - Search Engine Taste Test - Stuff You Might Like

September 2, 2009
Have you seen "BlindSearch" yet? It's a page with Google, Bing and Yahoo search all together, but with no branding. You make a search, see three sets of results and choose the one you feel provided the best results. Read More >>

Is there such a thing as white hat or black hat social media...?

August 19, 2009
The Twitter question for this week was: "Is there such a thing as white hat or black hat social media? Why or why not?" Read More >>

Publishing Text Ads

June 10, 2009
We are being contacted more and more by companies asking if we will add to our websites and/or clients' websites a short paragraph of text that includes a link to one of their clients' sites – i.e., a text advertisement. Read More >>

Multiple Keyword-rich Domains

May 27, 2009
I have a series (15) of keyword domains (3 to 5 years old) that are related to my site. Currently most of them are mirrors with just a slight content differential. Read More >>

Is Link Buying Gray Hat? - Advanced SEO Forum Thread of the Week

May 13, 2009
What's your opinion on the purchase of links for SEO? Read More >>

Offering a Discount in Exchange for a Link? Advanced SEO Forum Thread of the Week

March 18, 2009
Forum member "whitespark" is wondering if he could get in trouble for asking his customers to add a link to his website in exchange for a discount on a future purchase. Read More >>

Duplicate Content Via Press Releases

March 4, 2009
I disseminate news releases for clients using online wire services. Additionally, the releases are posted on my clients' websites, usually as PDFs, and on my firm's website, the same PDF. My programmer just told me that unless I make these releases different I am causing search engine apoplexy. Please let me know the facts and, more important, what I should be doing. Read More >>

Can Lots of Clicks Equal Higher Rankings?

February 4, 2009
If I hire people through something like crowdsourcing just to Google some keywords from various areas of the globe to click through to my site and stay there for 5 minutes, will it improve my rankings? Read More >>

Penalized for Buying Links?

November 19, 2008
In Google's Webmaster Tools there is a section where you can submit someone you think is buying links. Here is what I don't understand – can Google really penalize you for purchasing links? Read More >>

Using the NoScript Tag

July 30, 2008
Forum member "Webstream" wonders if it's okay to use the "noscript" tag as a place for links and text on a site that is all Flash and images. Read More >>

SEO Plagiarism

July 2, 2008
Over the past few weeks, I've had a few run-ins with plagiarism in various forms and thought I'd take the opportunity to have a little rant about it. My hope is that by discussing it, people will become more educated about the issue and perhaps it will become a little less rampant online. Read More >>

Improved Google SEO Documentation

June 11, 2008
Google's Matt Cutts has informed us that they've improved many things in their SEO documentation, including what they've written about robots.txt, IP delivery/geolocation vs. cloaking, the nofollow attribute, doorway pages and more. Read More >>

Will Linkbait Ruin the Internet?

May 28, 2008
When the term "linkbait" first appeared on the search marketing scene a few years ago, I wasn't too keen on it because it has a lot of negative connotations. In fishing, bait is not really a good thing (to the fish). One minute the fish thinks he's going to have a tasty meal, and the next minute he IS the tasty meal! Works out nicely for the fisherman, however. Read More >>

2 Domains, 1 Website

May 14, 2008
I have a client who has 2 domain names: namehere.com and differentnamehere.us pointing at the same IP address. Is it bad SEO to have multiple domain names for the same site? And will this negatively impact search engine results for each? Read More >>

9 Websites on 1 Server

April 9, 2008
Here is the scenario: I had a Virtual Private Server (VPS) with 9 websites on it that were all interlinked. It worked great for awhile. Then in Nov. 2004, Google did a big adjustment, and all 9 of my sites dropped out of sight. Read More >>

Negative SEO

March 12, 2008
I recently read an interesting article by someone who goes by the name of "slightlyshadyseo" regarding negative SEO, and asked our High Rankings Forum members what they thought about it. Read More >>

Duplicate Content Within Shopping Cart

January 16, 2008

I have plain html pages that describe the various health-related products that I recommend. If one of my readers wishes to purchase a product, they click on an "order now" button, which takes them to the desired product at my shopping cart.

Read More >>

Data Feeds and Duplicate Content

January 2, 2008
A lot of my clients pull data/products from semi-public databases to populate their websites, similar to how real estate agents show listings of homes on their sites. I've been ensuring that each client has unique valuable and professionally edited content whenever possible on the rest of the site, but I’m afraid that if I make the portions of the site that use the semi-public data accessible to the search engines, they will find duplicate information on other sites and my client site(s) would not be indexed. Read More >>

Google’s Paid-link Smack in the Face

October 24, 2007
The SEO world is abuzz today with Google’s smack in the face to a number of websites that are selling obviously paid-for, keyword-rich text links. Read More >>

Multiple Informational Sites

October 3, 2007
I have a plastic surgeon client who specializes in many procedures and has spent a fortune on developing a very nice site that has been done in Flash. In efforts to get him some traffic, we are doing a double campaign, one with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and one using SEO tactics. Read More >>

Cross-linking 40 Relevant Websites

October 3, 2007
High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week Read More >>

Will Site Drop Out of Engines if Not Paying for SEO?

September 25, 2007
I have a really quick question I hope you can help with. There is a small business in town that is paying $200 a month to have another company make sure it stays at the top of the ranking lists in search engines. Now if there is no new competition, except maybe a new office every few years, is it necessary to pay them, or could they do it themselves with the guidance you offer on your website? Read More >>

Revisited: The Art of SEO

August 29, 2007
Hey everyone! I’m back from vacation and the conference and raring to go. Today’s article is an updated version of one I wrote back in 2004 on the art of SEO. I recently reviewed it and was surprised at how accurate it still is today. I figured there are many of you on the list who never read it the first time around, and for those who did, you’ve probably forgotten it by now. Read More >>

Avoiding Duplicate Content on eCommerce Site

May 30, 2007
Forum member "Brandon C" asks, "I want to be able to offer a true breadcrumb for customers in an ecommerce store, but I am afraid that the product page will get penalized for duplicate content if I'm not careful." Read More >>

Display: None

May 23, 2007
I have to create some pages for a client. They are full of images and little to no content and have no title tags…however, they still want SEO services…*groan* Read More >>

Is This SEO Email Correct?

May 16, 2007
Forum member "Angelina" wonders about an unsolicited email she received from a so-called SEO company saying that her optimized site was actually unoptimized. Read More >>

How Long Before Spammer Relisted?

April 25, 2007
Forum member "stacykan" tells the group that she filled out a recent spam report on one of her competitors, which apparently resulted in the site being penalized/banned. Read More >>

Lost Rankings Due to Site Redesign or Spam?

April 18, 2007
I started answering this question with the usual answer, but as I looked at the site in question, I realized there was more going on than meets the eye. Please read through the entire question and my response to see what I mean! Read More >>

Confused About Nofollow? So Is Google!

January 31, 2007
Did you know that Google supposedly doesn’t crawl nofollows? My understanding was that they are to be used for untrusted links, not to keep Google’s spider out of places. (There are already tags/attributes for that.) However, Google seems to keep changing what they want to use the nofollow attribute for. Read More >>

Seth Godin Interview About Squidoo

December 1, 2006
Back in June, Jill and I were front and center at SES Toronto listening to Seth Godin, entrepreneur, best-selling author, and marketing guru. He is as excellent a speaker as he is a writer! Seth delivered a thought-provoking as well as motivational keynote speech, and if you ever get a chance to hear him speak, it is a truly remarkable experience! Read More >>

10 Signs That Your SEO Is a Quack

November 29, 2006
As you know there are a lot of so-called SEO/SEM experts/gurus claiming all
sorts of things. The analogy to me is like "quack" doctors compared to the
genuine article.

Are there 6 or a dozen questions that would expose those purporting to be
experts? Read More >>

Google Minus-30 Penalty

November 8, 2006
Do you have a page that used to rank #1 in Google that is now suddenly ranking #31? Read More >>

H1 Hidden in Comment Tag

October 25, 2006
Forum member “arteworks” noticed a competitor site that had a keyword phrase
in a comment tag wrapped with an H1 tag.  Is it spam or just stupid?  (Or
perhaps both!) Read More >>

Hired an SEO Comp and Now Feel Ripped Off

October 11, 2006
To go along with today’s featured article on trust, we also have a forum thread on a similar theme. Read More >>

Whom Can You Trust?

October 11, 2006

SEO Disclaimer

August 2, 2006
New forum member "norty911" asks fellow members if anybody knows of a place where he/she can find a copy of an SEO disclaimer that says he/she cannot be held responsible if there is not a significant increase in rankings for his/her clients' sites. Read More >>