IN THIS CHAPTER
What constitutes SEO spam?
Why SEO spam is a bad idea
Avoiding SEO spam
Spam is the Internet's version of the telemarketers who call you during dinner and won't take no for an answer. It pops up where it's least wanted, it's more prolific than pine trees in Mississippi, and the only purpose it really serves is to generate money for the spammers, who keep at it because they assume that the law of averages is on their side — send out enough spam and someone will respond.
Spam in SEO operates under the same principle, except SEO spam fills the search engine results pages with results that have little or no value to the searcher. If you do something that a search engine sees as spamming it, your search rankings will be penalized. It's even likely that you'll be removed from search rankings entirely.
Some SEO is a clear-cut case of spam, which is usually classified as black-hat SEO, but there are also cases of spam that aren't necessarily as obvious. These fall into a gray area in which the practices used may or may not be considered spam, depending on how you handle them.
To make spam even more difficult to define, search engines change their definitions of spam regularly. What works and is acceptable today may well be classified as spam tomorrow, so if you don't know that a change has been made or is coming, you may look at your rankings one day and find that you're above the fold on the first page, but look at the same rankings the next ...