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5 Ways to Get Your Site Banned from Search Engines

We spend a lot of time talking about what you should do to optimize your site for search engines. We even give you some tips on things to avoid to keep yourself off of page 90. Now let’s talk about things you should never, ever, under any circumstances do with your site. The following may seem like neat cheats to boost your rank, but rest assured, they are much more likely to get your site perma-banned from all of the major search engines. Once you’ve been exiled from the kingdom, it’s next to impossible to get back. So, without further ado – the top 5 ways to ruin your site, probably permanently.

If you really want to ruin your site quickly, link invisible images. It’s easy enough to do, you don’t even need relevant images. All you need to do is crowd your page with 1 X 1 pixel images with keyword heavy file names. To the human eye, the images are invisible. To search engines, they are tiny little red flags all over your site. Oh, and if you think that you might be clever and fool the search engines by using full-sized images that are resized to microscopic proportions by HTML or CSS tags, then think again. All of the majors have caught wise to this tactic.

The similar tactic of using invisible text is an equally ban-able offense. You can cram a lot of keywords onto your site by reducing your font size down to a single pixel without making a big mess. Similarly, you can hide the text by making it the same color as the background. This way, you can get the search engine’s attention while still providing customers with a usable/intelligible site and yes, you will absolutely get the search engine’s attention. However, search engines can evaluate font size, background colors and CSS tags. Invisible text is registered as spam and viola, you’ve succeeded in getting your site banned.

Creating doorway pages is another good way to get your site exiled to search engine limbo. Doorway pages are handy little HTML dummy pages that heavily optimize on primary keywords but redirect customers to your legitimate site. This tactic used to make it possible to optimize heavily for keywords that weren’t actually relevant to the page. Now it just makes it possible to get banned.
Cloaking is just as bad. Cloaking is a means of selectively showing content for search engine spiders that is different from that displayed to customers. This is accomplished by means of a CGI script that reads the IP address of the requestor and checks it against a list of known search engine spider IP addresses. If the address is a hit for a spider, then it can be redirected to a highly optimized page designed to boost relevancy. Cloaking can be an especially appealing tactic, since you can actually get away with it… at least for a while (so long as you keep your IP address list 100% current). Chances are, thought, that eventually you will get caught and banned.

Number five on our list isn’t actually an outright ban-able offense. Nevertheless, redirecting to an alternate domain is chancy since it is generally associated with the very frowned upon spam-tastic techniques of cloaking and using doorway pages. If your site does use a redirect for a legitimate reason then make sure your write it as a 301 HTTP redirect. Do not write it as a meta refresh or a 302.
These five nifty tricks are a practical who’s-who of blackhattery. They may have been useful tricks in their day, but as search engines have evolved, so have the rules of engagement. Once upon a time these tactics might have brought in the page hits. Now they just bring hits from the ban hammer.