What is Search Engine Blacklisting?

You've probably heard the term "blacklisted" before when looking at search engine optimization tips. But what is it exactly, and how can you keep it from happening?

Blacklisting, as you can probably guess from the name, is when search engines refuse to even list your pages. This generally happens as a result of poor SEO. Websites that have a META keyword tag full of popular keywords that don't actually appear in the article are the most likely to be blacklisted. But there are other traps that SEO can fall into, which aren't as easy to spot. Let's look at a few.

Keyword Spamming

As we've already discussed, this is a prime way of getting your website blacklisted. Examples of keyword spamming include, say, listing "britney spears" in your META keyword tag when your website is about web programming in New Jersey. Unless your website is actually about a given keyword, don't include it.

Can search engines tell the difference? You bet they can! Among other things, search engines compare your META keywords with your text. If you use a word as a keyword in your META tag, you had better use it in your web copy, or risk being blacklisted.

Keyword Crowding

This occurs when the TITLE tag is one long string of keywords, without cohesion or unity. The TITLE tag is not the place to list keywords. That's what the META tag is for. Instead, your TITLE tag should contain one or two of your most important keywords, strung together logically. If, for example, your website was about web programming in New Jersey, an excellent TITLE for your tag would be "Web Programming in New Jersey".

A TITLE that suffered from keyword crowding, on the other hand, would probably look something like "web programing seo design". As we've said before, the TITLE tag, while it is your most important keyword tag, is not the place to simply list keywords. Would the example above be blacklisted? That depends on the search engine. Some engines might blacklist it. Others might let it pass since it only has four words. (TITLE tags that have eight or ten keywords listed like the example above are almost certain to be blacklisted on any search engine.)

Keyword Repetition

It's okay to repeat your most important keyword in your META keyword tag. In fact, including it twice may actually boost your rankings. In our example above, a keyword tag of "internet,programming,USA,internet,design" would probably do better than just "internet,programming,USA,design". But there is a danger.

If you repeat keywords too often, in the best case scenario, search engines will simply ignore repetitions. In the worst case, they may blacklist you. Repeat your most important keywords once, and don't repeat the others. Note, however, that in a keyword tag that read something like "internet, internet programming, USA, seo, design", "internet programming" would be considered a different keyword than "internet" by almost every search engine. Using compound keywords in moderation can increase your keyword visibility, without the danger of keyword repetition. But some search engines won't include compound keywords, so use them moderately.

Keyword Drowning

We've saved this one for last because it doesn't always get your site blacklisted. But it does have adverse affects on your SEO, and some engines will ban you for it, so we thought it was worth mentioning.

Keyword drowning occurs when you list too many keywords in your META keywords tag. Ten to fifteen keywords are a good amount for this tag. Up to twenty is okay, although not recommended. But once you start including thirty or forty keywords in your META tag, you fall prey to keyword drowning. Individual words are lost among the jumble of options, and in essence, the effectiveness of each keyword is diluted.

Some search engines consider keyword drowning to be keyword spamming, and blacklist websites that have too many keywords in their META tags. But even for those that don't, your results are likely to be better if you stick to your ten or fifteen most important keywords, and avoid diluting the tag with too many keywords.


Search Engine Optimization is an important part of getting your website noticed. The higher your ranking, the more likely it is that people will find you. But these common beginner mistakes can actually harm your search engine rankings, or, worse still, prevent your page from ever showing up in search engines at all.

When in doubt, remember this cardinal rule: More isn't better in SEO. When in doubt, leave it out. You may rank lower if you include too few keywords in your META tags or don't include important keywords in your TITLE tag. But if you include too many keywords, you may not rank at all. Don't take that chance with your SEO.

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