I did a lot of web site design and development in the mid and late 1990′s, particularly for a number of small businesses. About a year after I built a site for one of my clients, they were concerned that they weren’t getting enough search engine traffic and worked with a search engine consultant to improve their ranking.
In the late 90′s, search engine ranking was all about keywords, so this guy had them add big blocks of keywords at the top of the home page, some white on white text, all the stuff that makes a site look kinda sleazy. I recommended against making the changes because I thought it hurt the professional image they had built from the presentation of their site.
Today, they contacted me after receiving an e-mail from Yahoo explaining why their site was not listed in Yahoo’s search directory. The e-mail lists the following reasons for a site to be excluded from Yahoo’s search results (the items they were probably excluded for are in bold):
- Cloaking (showing crawlers deceptive content about a site)
- Massive domain interlinking
- Use of affiliate programs without the addition of substantial unique content
- Use of reciprocal link programs (aka “link farms”)
- Hidden text
- Excessive keyword repetition
Now I’ll be going in and taking that text out for them.
In the WordPress forums, I was roundly shouted down for suggesting that it was Google’s job to worry about keeping their page rank algorithm meaningful, but I think these folks may have misunderstood what I was saying or aren’t thinking about the big picture.
It isn’t up to the web sites to work within a framework for search engine prominence, it is up to the search engines to rank sites properly. You may not want comment spam on your site for a variety of reasons (off the top of my head, it’s off topic and in many cases offensive), but worrying about the spammer’s page rank is ridiculous. That’s Google’s problem and they’ll deal with it.
Learn from the past; attempts to