Google and the other search engines place a very strong emphasis on the quality and relevancy of their search results. As the undisputed leader in the world of search engines, they know that in order to stay on top they must make sure that their users are satisfied with the quality of the search results provided. To that end, they do not take kindly to several techniques used by many webmasters and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts.
These techniques can and will get a site banned from Google or at the very least result in a Page Rank (PR) penalty. (PR will be discussed in more detail later.) A list of the most common (and dangerous) techniques is below:
Submitting multiple URLs for the same site - An example would be submitting mysite.com and mysite.com/index.html to their database, thereby essentially trying to get two search results for the same page.
Cloaking - Cloaking is having two separate pages, one optimized for the search engines and a different one optimized for the viewer. In other words the search engine sees one page but the user is redirected to a different page when the link is clicked. Cloaking is a big no-no with Google.
Doorway pages - In order to get a good listing in the search engines, some webmasters will load the home page with keywords. But a page filled with keywords comes across as nonsense to a human viewing the page. Therefore the webmaster will do a redirect to another page that is much easier to read (or have the user click a link to get to that page). This is basically cloaking. And as we now know, cloaking is a no-no.
Hidden text - Some webmasters will place hidden keywords on a page and make the font color the same as the background color (for example white text on a white background). This renders the text invisible to the human eye but the search engine spiders can still see it. This results in a higher Page Rank and search engine listing for those keywords. Hidden text is often used on a doorway page. Using hidden text is a sure way to get banned from Google fast!
Hidden links - The number of pages that link to one of your pages has a direct effect on how high your page appears in the search results (and that page's PR). As with hiding text, hiding links will also result in a ban or PR penalty.
Link farms - A link farm is loosely defined as a page that lists links solely or mainly for the purpose of achieving a high Google PR. Free-For-All links pages are often considered link farms by Google. Be careful who you link to! Realistically, you can't control who links to you, so incoming links will not hurt your site's ranking. But you control directly who you link to so Google will ban or penalize your site for linking to a "bad neighborhood".
Spamming - Don't send unsolicited commercial emails (SPAM). Enough said.
Selling PR - Blatantly advertising the fact that your high PR site will sell a link to another site in order to boost that site's PR is another big no-no. Selling advertising in the form of a link on your site is perfectly acceptable. Selling a link for the stated or implied purpose of increasing a site's PR is not.
Multiple identical sites - In order to increase PR, some webmasters will create and interlink multiple pages all with identical or very similar content. This is not allowed.
Multiple domains - Creating multiple domains that redirect to one page is not allowed. Also, creating multiple domains with the same or nearly the same content and then interlinking them is a no-no. If you have multiple sites place unique content on each site. Doing otherwise will result in a ban or penalty.
Excessive links - Google recommends having no more than 100 links on any given page. Having more than 100 links won't result in a ban but it can result in a lower PR.
If you refrain from using any of the above techniques you can avoid a Google penalty. The best way to attain a high PR and placement in the Google listings is to stay on Google's "good side". Now that we have the "don'ts" out of the way, let's get started with the "do's"!
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