Ever since the advent of search engines following the rapid rise in the number of websites on the World Wide Web, site owners and designers have been trying to optimize their pages to rank favorably in the search engine rankings. This practice has evolved into an art, namely, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and is a quintessential skill for any web designer today.
The benefits of having one’s website ranked highly in the search engine listings increases visibility hugely; and thus, people have often tried and keep on trying to manipulate search engine algorithms by employing unethical practices to get their website ranked highly on the search results for their targeted keywords. Using methods like stuffing unrelated keywords, formation of paid link farms, spam blogs, and spun articles to boost up page rank on the search listings are all considered forms of SEO spam; also commonly referred to as Black Hat SEO or Spamdexing.
One of the most common ways of SEO spam is the usage of unrelated keywords within sentences that have near-zero readability to a person.
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The aim of such a tactic is to fool the search engine into recognizing the intended keyword while ignoring semantics and quality of content completely. This results in higher page ranking. Since Google entered the search arena, such attempts have gone down drastically due to the strategies employed by the search engine to automatically remove any such websites from the search listings completely. During the mid 90s, SEO spam was at its peak, effectively undermining any credibility that search engines had during that time.
Keyword stuffing is another form of content spam that still sees use. Site designers/content writers stuff the text with the target keyword, often repeating the keyword up to 10 times in a 400 word article. This leads older search engine indexing bots to categorize the page as highly relevant and thus grants it increased visibility on the search results.
Once Google came up with their proprietary Page Rank system to cut down on non-relevant search engine results that had achieved their rank due to extensive content spam, those who practiced SEO spam came up with link spam. The idea was to create a huge network of web pages which contained a link to each other. Search engines count the number of backlinks from high ranking pages back to the main page and thus determine their relevance. The exploitation of this algorithm has lead to excess links between pages that have no real merit.
There are dozens of specific methods that are in use today by site designers that which employ unethical procedures to fool search engine algorithms. Major search engines like Google are always on the lookout for those who use such methods; blacklisting such websites from the search results if foul play is found. The last update to Google’s search algorithm, Hummingbird, rates pages based on the quality of the content and the utility it provides to potential readers.