what is seo iconIn previous chapters we have covered the positive search engine ranking factors that search engines use to rank your page in their results. Now it is time to cover the search engine ranking penalties that could negatively affect your web site.

Don’t worry. It’s pretty hard to run afoul of the various search engines without actively trying to deceive them.

Now, lets look at some of the bad SEO techniques.

“Thin” or “Shallow” Content

Having thin or shallow content is a new penalty. Until recently Google couldn’t even decide if having shallow content was as bad as actively trying to spam the search engine.

But last February, Google made an update to their search engine ranking algorithm and stated, with this update, thin or shallow was now a reason to penalize a web page in its search results.

Keyword Stuffing

This was the original search engine optimization technique and the search engines caught onto it quickly.

Keyword stuffing is the practice of repeating words or phrases an unnatural number of times on a single page. The idea was, by repeating these words, you could trick the search engine into thinking a page was more relevant to the targeted topic. This practice obviously doesn’t work anymore.

So the next quest is, “How many times is too many.” There’s no correct answer except use common sense. The good news is that you would have to go out of your way to be subjected to this penalty.

Hidden Text

If you have already decided to include a bunch of text on your page to trick the search engines your next step might be to hide that text from the human reader. For example, you might set the offending text to the same color as the background of your page. This is search engine spamming.

Seeing Google can see all the code that makes up your web page, they can tell if you are hiding text and penalize you for it. Don’t try to hide text using styles, fonts, or display: none.


So hiding doesn’t work because the search engine can see the code used to hide the offending text, what can be don about that if we are being evil? How about returning a different page to the search engine spider then a human visitor would see. That is called cloaking.

Search engine really hate this. If you are caught doing this the penalty can be harsh.

Paid Links

The act of buying and selling links is forbidden by Google. This is because links pass on search engine ranking credit and being able to buy your way to the top would pollute the results thus, affecting Google’s search result quality and hurting their business. Google penalized JC Penny for three months for buying links.

If you choose to ignore Google’s rules, be prepared for little mercy, if you’re caught.

Link Spam

If you can’t buy links maybe you can run around the web and post them yourself. Maybe automate the process with some type of application?

Unfortunately there is nothing stopping you. It’s just the Internet equivalent of graffiti and frowned upon by legitimate professionals, SEO Services and the search engines.

The work probably won’t help your site much either. Most blog use nofollow links in their comment sections so they don’t pass any page rank juice on. The rest probably have low page ranks to begin with and thus there is no page rank juice to pass on.


Next: Blocking & Search Engine Ranking Results