Some companies and individuals employ unsavory techniques to increase search engine rankings.

Search engines are hip to these tactics and are on a veritable witch-hunt for spammers and spamming techniques.

If you learn to identify these techniques, you can protect yourself from search rage and bogus search engine positioning (SEP) and optimizing (SEO) companies.

The Redirect

Automatic URL redirection occurs when code placed into a Web page directly transfers surfers to another page or Web site.

When surfers click on a link in a search engine listing that leads to a redirection page, the desired page will at first begin to load and the transfer will occur a second later. Another page then loads instead, and surfers unwittingly find themselves at a completely different Web page.

Most search engines won't index Web pages containing redirection code. Spammers abused this method and its use is now frowned upon.

You can identify redirection if you know what to look for.

When you conduct a search and click on a link from the listings, watch what happens. If a page begins to load and you see text or colors then all of a sudden another page loads before the first one is finished, you've been redirected.

Also keep an eye on the address bar in your browser. If you see the address change, you've been redirected.

Word-Spam Special

Word spam involves littering a page with the same word.

Word-spam pages once ranked extremely high due to an old search engine practice of scoring relevance by counting how many times a keyword appeared on the page. Word spam is the foremost reason doorway, or splash, pages became taboo.

Word-spam pages still exist and sometimes slip through search engine spam detectors. However, this technique will most likely get your Web site banned, because search engines consider it degrading to the quality of their results.

If you own a copy of WebPosition Gold, or a similar program, you're probably familiar with the Page Generator feature, a tool that creates doorway pages for your site.

What it really does is create a word-spam page for each keyword you list. For instance, if you're trying to target computers and monitors, it will take the word computers and repeat it ad nauseam on one page, then create another page that does the same thing with monitors.

My advice: Don't use the Page Generator. It creates spam and has gotten unsuspecting people into trouble.

Disabled Back Button

Disabling a back button is a trapping technique supported by the rationale that if surfers can't use the back button, they'll have to navigate through the Web site searching for a way out. Search engines consider it a spam technique and do not index pages that employ it.

Besides being senseless, it only enrages surfers and practically guarantees they won't purchase a product or a service from your Web site.

If you visit a Web site and discover the back button on your browser is a darker color than the rest of your toolbar, it usually means the button has been disabled.

The Cloaking Device

When a cloaking program resides on a Web server, it monitors the IP address of computers requesting Web pages and can detect whether the computers are search engines or surfers.

If you're a surfer, the program shows you the home page of the site. If you're a search engine spider, the program shows a completely different page. The page the search engine sees is mostly text and optimized for that particular engine.

I believe this program started out with the best intentions. I think it was meant to solve the dilemma between building a search-engine friendly page and a page that is attractive to humans.

However, it was abused when spammers realized they could outwit search engines and deceive Web surfers.

Cloaked pages, targeting just about any keyword from sex to insurance, were built for search engine optimization. Of course, the information on the cloaked pages had absolutely nothing to do with what the Web site was about.

Search engines clamped down hard and began to establish a system to defeat sites misusing the program. I won't say the program is now deemed illegal by search engines, but it looks like it will end up that way.

I will say that if the cloaked page has nothing or little to do with your Web site and search engines discover it, be prepared to be banned.

Invisible Text

Search engines frown on tiny font sizes and invisible text, which is text the same color as the background of your Web page. These tactics are considered spam and if detected will get your site banned.

Most search engines can detect even the most subtle spam techniques. If you're attempting to increase search engine rankings, do not use these tactics.

If you plan to hire a company to increase search engine rankings, make sure these practices are not used. Look at examples of the company's work. If the company is reluctant or won't show you results, shop around.

If you buy any excuses, call me -- I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you!

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