So, inspired to light a torch and lead folks out of the Bad SEO Cave, I've put together a list of the top 10 outdated SEO practices that should never have a place any internet marketing strategist's playbook. If you come across a website that advertises any of these 'tricks', 'strategies' or 'services', RUN! You don't want your SEO program full of dusty old bones...
Let's all move on from these relics of a bygone era in SEO:
- Keyword Stuffing
Back in the 90s, people realized that if you stuffed the meta keyword tag full of keywords, they could game the search engines and get great rankings. This led to abuse of the tag, to the point where The Big 3 (Google, Bing and Yahoo) have publically stated they no longer support this tag and will ignore it if it's used. The modern approach? Write your content naturally and include keywords throughout important content areas such as headers, meta titles and meta description.
- Search Engine Submission
Any company charging you to 'submit your site to the search engines' is making you pay for something the search engines do all on their own. The major search engines are so advanced, they will find your site quickly on their own, especially if you take advantage of a couple of simple tips. Add an HTML and XML sitemap to your site and submit the XML sitemap to Bing and Google Webmaster tools. Also, get links from popular social media hubs to your site, as the search engines crawl these resources constantly throughout the day.
- Automated Submission Tools
Back before SEO was a fully fledged industry, using software that automatically submitted your site to myriad directories and bottom-rung search engines was common. Now, it is considered spamming and the bad 'neighborhoods' these links are associated with can get your site penalized in the search engines. The modern approach? Build high quality, organic, relevant links slowly and with a defined strategy.
- Reciprocal Linking (Link Exchanges)
Link exchanges are the 'pyramid scheme' of link building. Some are complex affairs inlvoving 3 or more sites. Others are paid or free arrangements that bring little if any value to your site. Search engines penalize some of these arrangements and they look tacky on your site. Concentrate on building organic links by offering quality content and choose your link partners carefully. Ideally, they should have established, well-organized sites/blogs with relevant content.
- Article Marketing
Article marketing , like keyword stuffing, used to be a valuable content development and link building tool that was abused into obsolescence. A flood of low quality articles and issues with duplicate content ruined any value article marketing used to have. The modern approach? Develop a well-designed and thoughtfully marketed business or personal blog. This will generate organic backlinks for you if your content is deemed valuable by your niche community, helps brand you and gives you an authoritative voice online.
- Forum and Blog Comment Spamming
Nothing annoys a blog or forum community like a person who repeatedly makes an irrelevant comment simply to get their URL in front of people. You risk being blocked or banned from the community whose attention you're trying to get. Google has also devalued forum links. The modern approach? Leave a developed, thoughful and useful comment that adds value to the conversation at hand. People will appreciate this and will be more likely to click on your link if you make them curious enough!
- Meta Keywords Tag
Back to keyword stuffing-this tag was so abused in the past, that the search engines no longer support it. That is one of two reasons to leave it out of your site code. The second reason? Competitors can easily review your keyword tags and farm them for keywords to use in their own campaigns.
- Duplicate Content
There was a time when copy/pasting the same text throught the website would help you rank better, but no more. Search engines penalize duplicate content and re-wording your resources rarely helps, as Google is particularly savvy to this tactic. Write original, relevant content for each page and use your keywords only where necessary and in the appropriate ratio for the page.
- PageRank Optimization
Page Rank is simply an indicator of a site's general health and relevance, and is no longer the end all, be all of optimization goals. Google went so far as to remove PageRank from its Webmaster Tools after publicly stating it no longer had much value as a metric. Don't waste your time sculpting for a metric that is iffy, at best. The intelligent SEO practices you employ, your relevance and the value of the sites linking to you will all help to raise your PageRank, while innerlinking for usability on your site will help, also. Do these, and your site will prosper.
- Footer Links
Footer links for the purposes of link exchange are spammy and ignored by search engines. Consider linking to strong content areas of your site from the footer, if you must, but know that Google and Yahoo in particular devalue footer links. Footer links also have a very low click-thru-rate (CTR) and can dilute the strength of the links appearing earlier on the page. Keep your footer links to privacy policies, contact links or outbound links to valued resources and leave the strong links above the fold.
Keep your tactics up to date and you'll be steps ahead of the competition!