Website Visibility - Quantifying Negative Search Engine Ranking Elements for Optimisation

M. Weideman (South Africa)


website, visibility, search, engine, ranking, optimisation


The Internet has become a major marketing and sales channel, and there is strong competition between websites for high rankings in search engine results. A variety of ways exist to ensure high rankings, some involving organic coding, others payment to search engines. The focus of this research paper is identifying and ranking the elements to be avoided during the design of a webpage. Failure to do so could earn a website permanent banning from search engine indices. A number of empirical experiments and literature surveys produced models which identify, and some rank, website visibility elements. The top SEO experts also produced a ranking of elements from a practitioner angle, with both a positive and a negative effect on website visibility. However, no evidence could be found of a ranking system which combines the rigour of academic research with the reliability of industry expertise. These models were scored, normalised, and elements which were the same but carried different names were identified and combined. The result is a ranking system, triangulated between academic research, empirical experiments and industry expert opinion. Seventeen negative elements were ranked, with link spamdexing and keyword spamdexing being the top two elements to avoid. Website designers should use this scale during mission critical website design to identify and avoid elements which could cause their website being banned from large search engine indices.

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