17/02/2012

By Nick James, Fresh Business Thinking

Most of us would understand the term spam as meaning unsolicited email messages, usually sent out indiscriminately. Derived from the 1970’s Monty Python sketch where every meal on the menu of a greasy spoon included the luncheon meat ‘Spam’ the term now covers nearly every form of electronic messaging.

Search Engine Spam can be split into two main areas; Content Spam and Link Spam.

Link Spam is where a website creates and manipulates links for purposes other than merit, in other words to try and trick a search engine’s algorithm into believing that the site is ‘popular’ and a point of reference from other sites.

Content Spam can take many forms but in general it is when a website tries to manipulate the search engine into thinking that it is a site that ‘responds’ to the ‘search query’ but in reality it doesn’t.

In the early days the internet was often referred to as the ‘Wild, Wild, Web’, and as in the Wild West of the USA in the late 19th Century there were few rules and lots of robber barons emerged.

Then, in the American West, towns matured, law and order was imposed and as with most civilisations sets of rules had to be observed or penalties paid.

The parallel continues with the Internet - as we spend more and more of our time online, as we become more discerning and sophisticated we want to ‘find’ the information we are searching for without having to wade through a load of Spam!
One important point to remember is that search engines are competing for our ‘eyeballs’ and therefore they endeavour to deliver the best possible match for a search query to make sure they keep us as customers.

As a result of this there is an emphasis on ‘quality’. But it's difficult for a search engine to create an algorithm that can identify ‘quality’, so instead they penalise in some areas and reward in others. For example a website can get penalised for ‘keyword stuffing’ and rewarded for ‘fresh’ content, penalised for hidden or invisible text and rewarded for ‘relevance’.

All of this can sound hugely confusing but the simplest way to ensure that you don’t get penalised is to make sure you write your website content for the reader not the search engine and the simplest way to get rewarded is to create regular, fresh, relevant content.

Nick James will be speaking at The Online Business Makeover at Microsoft HQ, London on 12th March 2012. To find out more about top content for search engines and actual readers, as well as how to use social media to boost your online presence, book today! Plus, quote promotional code ONLY200 when you book and save 1/3 off the full ticket price of £299+VAT!

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