Your friend is indeed correct that attempting to trick search engines
into recording extra text or keywords made invisible to users through
colour selection or tiny font size is a technique likely to get you
banned from their indexes. Google state their policy to this as
"Certain actions such as cloaking, writing text that can be seen by
search engines but not by users, or setting up pages/links with the
sole purpose of fooling search engines may result in permanent removal
from our index."
Google Information for Webmasters
If your site currently uses such methods, I would strongly advise you
to remove the offending text as soon as possible.
There are however a number of acceptable ways to increase your
noticability to search engines and improve your ranking in the Google
search results. Since you have not posted the URL to your site, I
will make these as generalized comments, so please excuse any
repetition of techniques you already use.
For a site with a lot of images, it is wise to make full use of the
'alternative text' tags for images. If you are familiar with editing
HTML manually, all you need to do is enter
ALT="some explanatory text about the image"
within the <IMG ... > angle brackets. If you use software such as
Dreamweaver or FrontPage, clicking on the image properties will
usually allow you to add this feature. Many search engines including
Google will look at your alternative text tags to determine the
content of your site. In addition to image alternative text, a few
lines of concise descriptive text visible to readers would enable
search engines to assess the subject of your page.
Although Google does not look at the meta-tag keywords when indexing a
page, some other search engines still do, so having a set of
applicable keywords and a concise description can do your site no
harm. To add these, simply enter the following HTML into your
index.html page within the <HEAD> </HEAD> tags:
<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="keyword1, keyword2, keyword3">
<META NAME="description" CONTENT="A concise description including your
most important keywords">
Page titles are another commonly used method of assessing site
content. If your site uses a title such as 'My Homepage' or the like,
changing this to something along the lines of 'Bobby Vinton - White on
White' will be much more useful to a search engine spider. Using
subtly different titles for each page, for example suffixing the above
suggestion with ':Introduction' and ':Gallery' for the introduction
and gallery pages respectively, would be more informative to users
browsing search results.
Having made the content of your site clear to a search engine spider,
you are likely to be interested in your position in the search results
page. Google decides upon the importance of a site using a quantifier
called PageRank (PR). An explanation of this is available here:
Essentially, the number of, and PR of, other sites linking to yours
determines the relevance (PR) of your page. The higher your PR in
comparison with the competition, the higher your site will appear on
the results page.
A worthwhile strategy to increase the number of sites linking to yours
is to search for sites about related subjects and ask for them to link
to yours. Additionally, using a link in your signature in newsgroups,
forums, or online publications will result in increased links to your
page, and hence, an increased PageRank. It is worth bearing in mind
that links from sites with a higher PageRank will count more strongly
in your favour then those with a lower PR, so it may be worthwhile
pursuing webmasters of larger sites.
Submitting your site to online directories also generates high PR
links, for example
Open Directory Project
are useful places to start. Although there is likely to some delay in
human moderated directories like the above, they ultimately prove very
useful in providing links.
Returning to the topic of 'methods to avoid', it would now be
appropriate to mention a few more ways to get banned from Google, and
how to avoid them.
-use services such as 'Web Position Gold' who claim to guarantee high
search result positions. The best way to raise your PR is by manually
exchanging links with related sites.
-use link exchange schemes. Again this is likely to receive harsh
punishment from Google; approaching specific sites for links is the
way to go.
- spam the Google spider with excessive repetition of keywords within
the ALT tags, keywords, description, or page body.
In addition to the above, you may find the following pages
Search Engine World
Google Optimization Report
Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone
I hope you have found this answer both interesting and useful. If you
would like clarification of any areas please do not hesitate to ask
before rating my answer.
google search optimization OR optimisation
webmasters search engine advice