What If You Accidentally Spam the Engines?
by Paul J. Bruemmer-2003

Google and other search engines will boot anyone using spam 
tactics to get high rankings. But what if this happens 
accidentally -- or worse still, an unethical search engine 
contractor uses spam tactics on your site without your knowledge? 
Believe it or not, there can be light at the end of the tunnel. 
If your listings suddenly disappear and you suspect something's 
wrong, here's what you can do. 

Start From the Beginning 

Begin by reviewing some of the possible reasons for your page/s 
being excluded from the engine database. For instance, Google, 
and most others, publish a page with Reasons your site may not 
be included. Take a look at each engine to determine if you have 
inadvertently breached their guidelines or simply have not 
followed the correct procedures for getting listed in the 

If you suspect your page was manually removed from a search 
engine's index because of spamming, the engine will likely not 
comment on the reasons for removal. Furthermore, they will not 
give you an exhaustive list of practices that can cause removal. 

Spam Tactics to Avoid

Below are some of the common tactics identified as search engine 

· Cloaking: When one page is served to search engine crawlers to 
get a good ranking but a different version of the page is served 
to search engine users. Sometimes involves changing of meta tags 
after positioning.

· Spoofing/Redirects/Meta Refresh: A meta refresh tag permits 
visitors to automatically be taken to a different page. When 
abused, users are taken to content unrelated to their search. 
Thus search engines are suspicious of pages with a fast 
meta-refresh rate. Pages using JavaScript to perform redirection 
are also suspect. Use server-side redirection if legitimate 
redirection is required.

· Domain Spamming: Identical sites found under different domain 
names to increase search engine traffic, also known as mirror 

· Tiny Text: Overused to hide keyword stuffing.

· Invisible Text: Used to hide keyword stuffing by making the 
stuffed keywords the same color as the page (white on white). 
· Deceptive Title and Tags: Irrelevant keywords in the title 
and meta tags.

· Deceptive/Misleading Links: Setting up pages/links for the 
sole purpose of deceiving search engines.

· Over-submitting: Using the AddURL form to submit hundreds of 
deceptive pages.

If You Get Caught

If you intentionally spam the engines with any of the above 
tactics and get caught, the removal of your links will be 
disturbing when you are penalized. Spamming is not worth the 
temporary benefits. Search engine marketing done right is a 
long-lasting marketing investment, so don't jeopardize your 
rankings with any suggestion of spamming a search engine.
Search engines have many ways to detect spamming with so called 
spam filters. They also actively encourage spam reporting by 
users. So even if you get by the spam filters a few times, others 
might report you, especially your competitors.

Making Your Way Back

If your site was removed from Google's database, the first thing 
to do is to clean up the page/s and send a re-inclusion request 
to help@google.com. Google probably won't make any guarantees 
about if and when it will re-include your site. If everything 
is in order, your site should reappear in a month on the next 
Google refresh. 

Before re-submitting your site, ensure there are no technical 
problems with your server. Check for any robots.txt files that 
turn away search engine spiders. Remember, if you use frames or 
Flash, it can be hard to get indexed. You need plenty of relevant 
text on your pages and tags to get indexed by search engine 

In any event, you should contact the search engine in writing. 
Also make an attempt to contact them by phone. Admit your mistake 
and make a sincere promise that it will not happen again.

Search Engine Algorithms  

Should you worry about the changes in search engine algorithms? 
Yes, but there are acceptable and unacceptable methods for 
dealing with these changes. Spamming is simply unacceptable.
Currently, the engines are emphasizing relevancy. Algorithms 
seem to favor relevant content, relevant title and description 
tags, and a relevant linking strategy. In other words, tell it 
like it is and be precise in your descriptions. Know what 
keywords are used to find your site and use those keywords 
appropriately. Provide good navigation so the engines can crawl 
deep into your site.

Algorithms have been affected by search engine optimization 
practices and user behavior. That's how spamming and best 
practices have surfaced. That's why search engines continually 
adjust their algorithms.

Good Search Engine Visibility

Google is only one search engine; there are many more with 
substance, integrity, and a large number of users. All of these 
engines should be referring searchers to your Web site. 

There are millions of new web pages being submitted daily, many 
of them competing for top rankings with your site. Don't risk 
your future business online by spamming search engines. It's 
your responsibility to know the rules and act responsibly. 

The Major Search Engines

Below is a list of the major search engines, their editorial 
content guidelines, and contact information to settle-up any 
possible abuse issues:

· MSN: Receives editorial content from Inktomi. Inktomi 
editorial guidelines. 
Inktomi's content policy FAQ will answer 
most questions on do's and don'ts or email their spam reporter 
(reportspam@inktomi.com) for help.

· Netscape: Receives editorial content from Google. Google 
Guidelines (http://www.google.com/webmasters/) are worth reading 
before getting started. Google partners with Yahoo! and Netscape, 
providing results to Yahoo! and DMOZ directories. Email 
(googlebot@google.com) with the name of your site and a detailed 
description of your problem. Be honest and be sincere.

· Open Directory Project aka DMOZ: Provides content to several 
partners including Netscape, Google, AOL, HotBot, Lycos, and 
Pandia. See guidelines (http://dmoz.org/add.html) or email any 
category editor for advice. List of editors appears at the bottom 
of every 'category page' within ODP (http://dmoz.org/). 

· Yahoo Web Sites and Yahoo Web Pages: How to suggest a site
(http://docs.yahoo.com/info/suggest/) provides basic information 
about what they expect from you. Or email 
(http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/url/url-27.html) Yahoo customer 
care for further assistance.

· AltaVista: Submission Policies (http://addurl.altavista.com/) 
will help understand the rules. Alta Vista's contact e-mail 
(http://www.altavista.com/help/contact/intro_help). Include 
"Search Results Manipulation" in the subject line puts you 
in touch with their spam reporter. 

· AllTheWeb (Fast)/Lycos: Webmaster resources
(http://www.alltheweb.com/help/webmaster/faq.html). Here is the 
Spam Policy (http://www.alltheweb.com/info/about/spam_policy.html)
and Spam Report email address (spam@fastsearch.com). Write if 
you've inadvertently made a mistake.

· HotBot: Receives editorial content from Lycos. See guidelines
(http://info.lycos.com/legal/legal.asp). To contact its Abuse 
Manager (abuse@tripod.com) send an email inquiring about your 

· AOL Web Sites: Receives editorial content from DMOZ and 
Google. See suggestions for getting listed 
(http://search.aol.com/add.adp). To contact AOL for information 
write an email (http://search.aol.com/feedback.adp) and describe 
your problem.

In a nutshell: Work with all the engines, use their guidelines, 
admit it when you've made a mistake, make written contact, 
follow-up with phone calls, and be sincere in your request for 
re-admission into the database.

Remember, your editorial content (a search engine link to your 
site) below a search engine's advertising fold is your business's 
best means of acquiring a target audience. This audience consists 
of astute individuals performing searches and research who are 
interested in what you do. You can't afford to make mistakes. 
If you do…start with damage control right away.

Paul J. Bruemmer mailto:paul2@web-ignite.com is the CEO of Web 
Ignite, http://www.web-ignite.com/ a search engine marketing 
company founded in 1995. Web-Ignite earned a top grade in the 
Buyers' Guide to Search Engine Optimization Firms and has helped 
promote over 15,000 Web sites. Client testimonials report 
traffic increases of 150 to 500 percent. Bruemmer's articles 
have appeared on ClickZ and other publications.