Search engine spam is a kind of spamming where the perpetrator tries to influence the search engines to make a website, or any online content, appear at the top of search results. Most of the people who do this are business owners, including those who are promoting an online casino to get a commission from their affiliate partners.

One example of this is keyword spamming, where the writer or publisher uses a lot of keywords to make search engines believe that its content is highly related or relevant to what a user is searching for.

Below are some examples of search engine spam:

  • Irrelevance – people who target keywords that are irrelevant to their content. For example, they will use the keyword “how to train a dog,” but their content really has no value whatsoever about training a dog.

  • Hidden Text – this is a technique where the publisher uses keywords on the page that search engines can read, but this text is not visible to the site visitor.

  • Hidden Links – these are links that are on the web page, but the site visitor cannot see them — only the search engines can.

  • Doorway Clutter – people create a lot of low-quality pages, and all of these eventually link to the same website.

Google has gone way too advanced for search engine spamming. There was a time when keyword spamming was not uncommon in the 1990s. At that time, when you typed “how to train a dog,” the top pages you would see were likely to be spam sites or pornographic sites.

Today, Google has improved its algorithm so much that the system can easily identify spam. If the Google search engine identifies spam content, the Google index de-lists that website and will not show that site anymore.

Below are some more types of search engine spamming: 

  • Redirecting

  • Keyword stuffing

  • Mirror/duplicate content

  • Keywords unrelated to the site

  • Hidden text

  • Tiny text

  • Keyword stacking

  • Hidden links

  • Doorway pages

  • Gibberish

  • Domain spam

  • Typo spam and cybersquatting

  • Mini/micro-sites

  • Link farms

  • Cloaking

  • Page swapping (bait & switch)

Why do people spam search engines?

There are millions of webpages in the world, and creators are vying for attention. It takes a lot of hard work to get content at the top of a search engine results page.

Some people do not want to take the legitimate route of ranking, which is to write high-quality content. Instead, what they do is find weaknesses in the search engine’s algorithm and exploit them.

They spam search engines for one immediate reason: to rank at the top of the search engine results page. If the person clicks on their link and goes to their website, they get traffic.

Once a website has adequate traffic, they can earn money. They can earn money from ads, or they can convince the user to buy whatever it is that they are selling.

Another reason is hacking. These spammers will redirect you to a site where, unknowingly, you are downloading malware. Once that malware works on your PC, they will control it and hold it for ransom.

Can you report spam?

Yes, you can. Google, MSN, and Yahoo! all have anti-spam reporting mechanisms. If you ever find a spammy webpage that found its way to the top of search engine results pages, you must take action. If you don’t, these things will continue, and all users will suffer in the end.

You must have a Google account if you want to report spam. Once you get to the reporting page, you must provide the exact URL of the spammy page. You also have the option to block that specific website from your search results.

In addition, you have the option to provide the exact keywords that you used in the search box, which made the Google algorithm show that webpage, to begin with. This is optional, as some people get to spam pages through links from other content, not necessarily from a search.

Finally, there is a box where you can explain why you think it is spam. For example, you can say that the web page’s title is “how to train a dog to sit,” and yet the content is about health pills or pornography. A simple explanation like that will do.

Today, it is not machines that check these reports but human beings. Yes, they manually validate the report and take action. Once they confirm that your report is true, they will penalise that website and make it so that it will no longer appear on search results.

Spam is bad for the industry. There will always be people out there who want to game the system to gain something. They do not want to go the hard route, which is to create content that is meaningful and valuable.

As a user, all of us must do our part in helping search engines do their jobs properly. There is no machine right now that can identify spam 100%. As Google upgrades its systems, these hackers and spammers also escalate their game — they get better at spamming and exploiting. There has to be human intervention, and that human intervention begins with users.