Google spam penalties can be automatic or manual.
With manual penalties, you'll probably be informed by way of notification in Google Webmaster Tools.
Unfortunately, you may not always know you've tripped a spam filter, especially if the penalty is algorithmic. Those penalties are often more challenging to diagnose because they can be keyword specific down to the page level of a website.
Ever wonder how or why your website lost its once favorable rankings in Google? Here are 32 ways to potentially activate a Google spam filter.
- Register a domain with a trademarked word in the name with the intent of profiting off of ad revenue by "repurposing" content scraped from a rival site.
- Register a domain name that is a misspelled version of a popular website, brand, or online rival in an attempt to misdirect search referred traffic.
- Surreptitiously place affiliate cookies on computers when viewing or sharing content on the site.
- Example: A spammer inserts a URL to a fake image on a message board that puts affiliate cookies on the computers of forum visitors.
- Use unnecessary redirects, especially when visitors hit the homepage to enter the site from a search engine.
- Present the homepage as a "splash page" or otherwise content-less document, replace the homepage URL regularly with a new file name, and don't bother to redirect the old homepage URL.
- Use frames on critical landing pages and high-level categories.
- Target demographics on social networking sites and message people with blatant advertisements.
- Include numerous ampersands, session IDs or user IDs in URL constructs, and do not canonicalize to unappended URLs.
- Ping servers site several times per minute with new content notifications to give the illusion that there is constant flow of new content on a page.
- Use the same title tag on all or most pages in the site or use title tags that lack meaning on critical landing pages, and never change the title tags.
- Have error pages in the search results that produce "Session Expired" experiences for visitors referred to the website.
- Have the 404-Page "File Not Found" error return a 200-status OK response code to search bots.
- Only use "Click Here," "Read More," or other redundant phrases for important anchor text links.
- Use site wide navigational constructs, such as dropdown, pop-up, and flyover boxes to obfuscate contextual relevancy signals for search bots.
- Present hidden or small text meant only to search engine spiders.
- Engage in "keyword stuffing" and use obviously irrelevant keywords in meta tags on a site-wide basis.
- Buy expired domains with high traffic histories and redirect to unrelated web content.
- Have content read like it was machine generated with search query phrases dynamic inserted in the content.
- Scrape other sites content and aggregate it on "doorway pages" throughout the site.
- Repeatedly present search engines different content then humans receive when visiting the site.
- Participate in "link farms" or "free for all" link exchanges that have a large number of unrelated topics directing visitors to different URLs on every page within the site.
- Duplicate the same content cross multiple subdomains rather than investing in search engine friendly load balancing processes.
- Invite and allow comment spamming on most pages within the site.
- Don't link out to any other sites or predominantly link to dubious sites with highly descriptive anchor text.
- Create hundreds of personas to "echo" social signals across different social venues.
- Hide links in images or embed links in places that are "off screen" to most site visitors.
- Buy links as a "sponsor" or embed links in unrelated web tools or widgets.
- Try to cozy up to sites that predominantly link to off-topic topics such as casinos or online pharmaceuticals.
- Suddenly introduce a lot of new, highly searchable trending phrases into the body copy of stagnant old articles.
- Put a headshot of Google's Matt Cutts on unflattering images or produce a video with the Google spam chief's image.
If you're still confused about what you can do to stay on the good side of Google, never implement any of the tactics mentioned here today.