|dc.description.abstract||The aim of this research was to determine how search engine exclusion
policies and spam affect the indexing of e-Commerce websites. The Internet
has brought along new ways of doing business. The unexpected growth of
the World Wide Web made it essential for firms to adopt e-commerce as a
means of obtaining a competitive edge. The introduction of e-commerce in
turn facilitated the breaking down of physical barriers that were evident in
traditional business operations.
It is important for e-commerce websites to attract visitors, otherwise the
website content is irrelevant. Websites can be accessed through the use of
search engines, and it is estimated that 88% of users start with search
engines when completing tasks on the web. This has resulted in web
designers aiming to have their websites appear in the top ten search engine
result list, as a high placement of websites in search engines is one of the
strongest contributors to a commercial website’s success.
To achieve such high rankings, web designers often adopt Search Engine
Optimization (SEO) practices. Some of these practices invariably culminate in
undeserving websites achieving top rankings. It is not clear how these SEO
practices are viewed by search engines, as some practices that are deemed
unacceptable by certain search engines are accepted by others. Furthermore,
there are no clear standards for assessing what is considered good or bad
SEO practices. This confuses web designers in determining what is spam,
resulting in the amount of search engine spam having increased over time,
impacting adversely on search engine results.
From the literature reviewed in this thesis, as well as the policies of five top
search engines (Google, Yahoo!, AskJeeves, AltaVista, and Ananzi), this
author was able to compile a list of what is generally considered as spam.
Furthermore, 47 e-commerce websites were analysed to determine if they
contain any form of spam. The five major search engines indexed some of
these websites. This enabled the author to determine to what extent search
engines adhere to their policies. This analysis returned two major findings. A
small amount of websites contained spam, and from the pre-compiled list of
spam tactics, only two were identified in the websites, namely keyword
stuffing and page redirects. Of the total number of websites analysed, it was
found that 21.3% of the websites contained spam.
From these findings, the research contained in this thesis concluded that
search engines adhere to their own policies, but lack stringent controls for the
majority of websites that contained spam, and were still listed by search
engines. In this study, the author only analysed e-commerce websites, and
cannot therefore generalise the results to other websites outside ecommerce.||en_US