Have you heard of the term “blacklisted” before? How about when referring to Internet search engines? If you own or promote a client’s website, you need to be familiar with what it means to be “blacklisted” by the search engines and how to avoid finding yourself in such a situation.
What Does “Blacklisted” Mean?
When a search engine such as Google “blacklists” your website, your SERP (Search Engine Results Page) will either be bumped, or your entire website may be banned from the search engine results altogether. This is done when the search engines penalize you for engaging in practices that they frown upon.
Many website owners who are inexperienced in search engine optimization- or who may not even know what SEO is- may unwittingly harm their search engine rankings, causing their website to be blacklisted by the search engines. One rule of thumb to keep in mind when it comes to SEO is that quality trumps quantity.
Making bad SEO decisions can severely impair your traffic and ranking in the search engines for an extended period of time. One illustration I commonly use is that of losing weight: It’s easier to keep weight off in the first place than it is to lose weight after it’s been gained. The same goes for SEO. Implementing safe and effective search engine practices from day one will save you tons of time and money over recovering from poor decisions. Therefore, you need to examine some of the most common techniques website owners implement, attempting to improve their search engine ranking but resulting in their being blacklisted.
Probably the most common mistakes website owners make that results in their being blacklisted by the search engines reside in their META tags. One of these mistakes is keyword spam.
Keyword spam is when you load your META keywords with words or phrases that have nothing to do with your page’s content. This is most commonly done when a website owner attempts to get their page ranked well for a desired keyword, but the content on the page is irrelevant.
For example, if your page discusses how to replace a fuel filter on a Chevy truck, there would be no point in using META tags pertaining to dog collars- it’s totally irrelevant.
Something I see quite often in my SEO evaluations for clients is that they use the same META tags for every single page on their website. Be sure each page has its own META tags that are relevant to its content, or risk the chance of being blacklisted.
A common misunderstanding website owners have is that the more times their target keywords appear in their META tag, the higher their site will rank for that keyword. This is simply not true- remember, quality trumps quantity.
An example of this would be having your META keyword tag appear as:
website hosting, web hosting, hosting, web host, hosting, website host, hosting
As you can see, the word “hosting” is repeated multiple times in effort to get the page ranked for the single keyword “hosting”. However, it would be more efficient to simply include the word one time. By repeating the same keyword over and over, search engines may penalize your ranking and can possibly result in your being blacklisted if it’s severe enough.
If there’s something search engines hate it’s cloned content- the same exact content on multiple pages or websites. This has been especially true over the past few years as search engine algorithms have evolved.
With the widespread availability of RSS feeds, it has become very simple for website and blog owners to directly syndicate content onto their own sites, thinking that their search engine rankings will improve since they are pumping out tons of new content.
The problem with this misconception is that the content isn’t “new”, and having an “autoblog” or cloned website can definitely get you blacklisted by the search engines.
Using invisible text worked like a charm in 1995, but the only thing it will do for you now is get you blacklisted.
A few years back, it was not uncommon for a website owner to place invisible text all over their site with the keywords they wanted to rank well for repeated over and over again in order to make it appear more content rich and to get their page ranked higher in the search engines. An example of invisible text would be placing white text over a white background. Being nothing more than a huge stockpile of keywords, the invisible text would have no real value to the reader, so it would not be seen.
Search engines have become smarter and can detect such practices much easier now, and in efforts to rank pages well which are valuable to the readers, pages with invisible text will get you blacklisted.
Search Engine Submit Spam
Again, ten years ago we all had to manually submit our websites to the search engines in order for them to find it and get it listed in their search results. There’s hardly a reason to do that now, as the search engine spiders are usually all over your site automatically. As a matter of fact, I’ve put new websites on brand new domain names online and have seen them listed in Google in as little as 80 minutes later!
However, the option to manually submit your website to the search engines isn’t still available because you shouldn’t do it. There’s nothing wrong with submitting your site, but many website owners will submit their site over and over again. You should never submit your website to the same search engine more than once a month. If your website still has still not been listed after 30 days, resubmit it.
If the search engine already has your site listed, don’t continue to submit the site- there’s no need. If you do, the search engines will see this as spam and will blacklist your site.
How can you tell if your website has already been listed? By doing a search like this:
Replacing the above example with your own domain name will display all of the pages the search engine has listed for your website. If it’s already found it, there’s no need to keep resubmitting your site or you can get blacklisted.
Poor Quality Web Host
In efforts to reduce costs, many website owners will choose free or very cheap “fly-by-night” web hosting companies to host their site. The goal of the search engines is to provide searchers with the highest quality result for what they’re searching for.
If the search engine spiders come to scan your site and it’s frequently offline or loads very slowly, they will get fed up and move on. Your website can be blacklisted because they will see that the quality is not very high and they don’t want searchers to be landing on dead links.
Shared web hosting packages by reputable hosting companies are very inexpensive anyway, ranging from $4-$10/month. One major web host known for good uptime is Hostgator.
Shared IP Address
Most hosting packages will host your website on the same IP address as hundreds of other websites. The problem with this is that if some of the other websites on the same IP address as you engage in activities that get them blacklisted from the search engines, this can rub off on you.
Most web hosts can provide you with your own dedicated IP address for about $2-$5/month. If you’re serious about SEO, I would highly recommend this option. This way, your website is the only one using the IP address so you don’t have to worry about someone else getting your site blacklisted because of their actions.
Junk Directory Submissions
Again, going back 10 years, directory submissions were a big hit. Nowadays, they’re not the golden ticket to high search engine rankings that many people make them out to be.
Many website owners will pay someone a seemingly little amount of money to mass submit their website to hundreds or even thousands of web directories. This is a sure-fire way to get your website blacklisted for a number of reasons.
First, having your website suddenly listed on 5,000 other sites overnight is a telltale sign of spamming. Secondly, most automated submissions will mess up the submission process anyway, submitting your site to irrelevant categories and messing up the text and links included with the submission. Third, most of these web directories are poorly ranked themselves which can bring your site’s ranking down. The great majority of them will have a Pagerank of 0 or 1, and if your website has a higher Pagerank it can pull yours down.
Again, remember our rule of thumb- quality trumps quantity.
Paid Link Placement
Search engines now frown upon “unnatural” and paid placements on other websites. Take the popular site amongst bloggers of Text-Link-Ads.com. If you are using their service or are linking to their site run away!
Google knows that it’s nothing but a service promoting “unnatural” paid links and has totally blacklisted them. For example, check their Google Pagerank- it’s not even ranked. Do a search for “text-link-ads.com”- they don’t even rank for their own domain name! As a matter of fact, Google has totally blacklisted their website. If you don’t want to be blacklisted, don’t participate in ANY paid link placement. If you pay for links on an individual basis, be sure the site owner doesn’t place your link anywhere near text such as “Sponsors” or “Paid Links”. The search engines will flag the link as “unnatural” and blacklist your website.
So, hopefully you will keep these points in mind as you promote your website. You can achieve high search engine rankings, but it takes a lot of hard work and effort, and usually does not happen overnight. Don’t participate in anything that can get your website blacklisted because by doing so, all your hard work will have been for nothing.
If you want some tips on how to legitimately get your web pages to rank well in the search engines, check out my article How To Make A Great Landing Page. If you would like me to personally work on your site to improve it’s search engine rankings, please visit my Google SEO services site.