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More On Keyword Spamming:What Is It And Are You Doing It Without Realizing It

The subject of keyword spamming comes up on a regular basis, more often than we would like. And although we would prefer to think that this is just a misunderstanding of what keyword spamming is, rather than a product of deliberate misuse of keywords, this is not always the case. There have been cases when even experienced, long time shop owners have ignored the guidelines for the appropriate use of keywords in titles and categories. And, in cases where an item has been flagged for keyword spamming, there are occasions when a shop owner will correct the listing that resulted in a flag, but not address other current listings in the shop that are also in violation of the same guideline. This is unfortunate, and we'd like to take this opportunity to educate shops on this important and often misunderstood subject.

What Is Keyword Spamming?
Many, even very seasoned and successful shops don't thoroughly understand what it is. Keyword spamming is the practice of including words unrelated to your item in titles and catalog categories, and is strictly prohibited on Ruby Lane, whether it is done intentionally or not. Usually when unrelated keywords are intentionally used, it is to mislead those searching, with the intent of attracting more visitors to the shop. The assumption is that more visitors equals more sales. But in fact, this type of strategy usually has the adverse affect. It is frustrating for a customer to time and again, search for a specific type of item, only to end up in a shop offering something that is not what they are searching for. Someone searching for a set of Bakelite flatware is not going to land in a shop that sells only Bakelite jewelry, and decide to forget about the flatware, and purchase a piece of jewelry instead. It renders the search engine ineffective, and in the process, damages the credibility of the shop, and Ruby Lane. The search engines such as Google do not take kindly to it, either. Their systems are designed to detect keyword spamming, and if they do, your item(s) and/or pages of your shop risk being removed from the search indexes altogether.

Real Life Examples
For those shop owners who are unsure as to what constitutes keyword spamming, we are including a list of examples. These are actual examples taken directly from Ruby Lane in recent weeks:

1. Keyword Spamming in Catalog - Categories: Including multiple manufactures' names within a catalog string is considered keyword spamming:

Example: Collectibles: Home Accessories: Glass, Crystal: Lalique, Baccarat, Val Saint Lambert, Daum

If the item is a Baccarat, it can't be Lalique. Using one category within a catalog to capture the names of several manufacturers may simplify listing items, but it is keyword spamming.

2. Keyword Spamming in Catalog - Categories: Using a manufacturer's name in a category for an item when the shop owner clearly does not know who the manufacturer is:

Example: Collectibles : Glass, Crystal : Fenton

But the description reads, "Offered here is a gorgeous Jadite Candy Compote or Console Bowl! I believe it is either Clambroth or Fenton."

In order to be included in the Fenton category, the piece must be made by Fenton. Multiple choice identification scenarios are not acceptable and are considered keyword spamming.

3. Keyword Spamming in Titles: Another case of multiple choice scenarios:

Example: The item title reads "19th C. Ridgway or Davenport Scenic Dessert Set"

It is either a Ridgway or a Davenport, but it cannot be both. Titles and categories must be accurate and not a "best guess." Either/or scenarios are considered to be keyword spamming.

4. Keyword Spamming in Titles: Identifying an item as from a specific period when it is not:

Example: Title reads, "French Louis XVI Painted Oval Mirror"

The description states, "Circa date 1940". If an item is identified as "French Louis XVI" then one should expect the item to be of the period from which the style evolved. The piece may have design elements representative of this period, and may be referred to as in the "style" of Louis XVI within the description, but it is keyword spamming to include a period reference in the title when the item is not from this period. In fact, there are those in the online community who deem the use of the term "style" to be misleading as well, and feel it should not be used at all. Thus, we recommend that the term "style" be used judiciously.

5. Keyword Spamming in Titles and Catalog Categories: Is it a period Chippendale? Is it a Federal Cabinetmaker Desk? Is it from the 1800's? Is it American Centennial?

Whatever it is, it cannot be all of these things. This is keyword spamming.

Example: Title - "Period Chippendale Federal Cabinetmaker Desk 1800's American Centennial Gentleman's Vanity Desk Honduras Mahogany..."

Catalog Category: Antiques: Furniture: Period: Chippendale: Federal: Cabinetmaker: Desk: American Centennial: Gentleman S: Vanity: Desk: Honduras Mahogany: Historic

Part of the Description: "This lovely antique desk is correctly made to Period Chippendale. I can not say for sure that it is a Period late 18th century original or if it is a mid to 1870's Centennial Cabinetmaker's piece ..."

6. Keyword Spamming in Catalog - Categories: Another example of combining two unlike items within a category string:

Example: Title - "Vintage Creamer and Sugar Bowl"
Catalog Category: Collectibles : Pottery : Kitchenware : Collectible Glass

If it is pottery, it is not glass. However, if the piece were indeed constructed from pottery and glass, then using both terms within a category string would be acceptable.

These are only a few examples of keyword spamming which can be found on the Ruby Lane site. Unfortunately, there are more. Whether intentional or not, keyword spamming is not acceptable for any reason. It is the shop owner's responsibility to become familiarized with the guidelines for listing items on Ruby Lane and when in doubt, to ask questions. Currently, there are 17 pages of information dedicated to the subject of spamming on the site. This information can be found in the "Selling Successfully" section, and by searching on the word "spam" in the forums. We would like everyone to take the time to check their listing titles, categories and descriptions, to make sure they do not contain misleading keywords. Improving the accuracy of search results on Ruby Lane benefits everyone, especially the customer. It is what he or she wants, and should expect, from a professional marketplace such as Ruby Lane.

Article Last Update: September 29, 2013