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What Exactly Is Spam?

As much as we all would like the search engines to give us clear guidelines on what does and does not constitute spam, we have to accept that it is an unrealistic expectation. Whenever a search engine presents a clear-cut spam guideline, unethical search engine marketers try to implement exceptions to the guideline. Then the search engines must update the guideline to include the new exceptions to the guideline, and so on, and so on. It’s a never-ending process. Thus, the search engines present general rather than specific guidelines as to what constitutes spam.

Search engine spam is more about how and to what extent a marketing technique is used rather than if a technique is used. Thus, the search engine Spam Police do not automatically penalize a site for using a design technique if that design technique is used in an appropriate manner. For example, a site that uses invisible DHTML layers for drop-down menus, such as the Position Technologies site (see Figures 5.1 and 5.2), are not penalized because the invisible layers serve a navigation purpose. However, if a design or writing technique is used to deliberately trick a search engine into offering inappropriate, irrelevant, redundant, or poor-quality search results, a site can be penalized for spamming.


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