5 Outdated SEO Tactics and 5 Alternatives

In the past it was easier to achieve high search engine rankings by "gaming" the system with questionable SEO tactics. But as search engines have evolved, many suspect SEO practices have been rendered useless. However, if you visit any SEO forum or upstart SEO blog, you will see many of these outdated tactics still endorsed as legitimate techniques. In an attempt to end the misinformation, below are five popular, yet outdated SEO tactics that no longer work - and some legitimate alternatives.

In the late 1990s, search engines were unsophisticated. The more frequently a keyword appeared in a page's content, the better it ranked. This practice of "keyword stuffing" was an easy way to manipulate search rankings. Since then, search engines and their algorithms have matured.

What to do instead:
Stuffing pages with keywords can have a negative impact; as Google actively imposes penalties on gamed content. So if you want your keywords to have maximum impact, it's far better (and safer) to employ legitimate SEO practices, such as:

- Creating content for people, not search engines
- Making sure keywords are present in prominent regions of your Web page; such as headers, subheads, title tags and meta description snippets
- Structuring a website so that important keyword pages are high up in the site architecture and easily found by both search engines and people

Many search marketers and webmasters still aggressively drop links in blog comments as their primary link building strategies. This outdated SEO tactic is better known as blog comment spamming. To address the abuse, Google introduced nofollow link tags (a signal to search engine spiders to ignore a link) and is known to devalue links in blog comments.

What to do instead:
Rather than comment spam, try producing something of value. Creating well-written, engaging and thought-provoking content is one of the best ways to attract quality links, naturally. Good content often generates editorial links - naturally occurring links from other blogs and news sources that search engines value far more than comments in blog posts.

I'm still amazed by how many companies offer search engine submission as a service. I'm equally amazed by how many professional Web developers and designers still believe that submitting to search engines is necessary. It is not. Google's ability to discover and index new content is so advanced that search engine submission is obsolete. So, paying a company for a search engine submission service is a waste of money.

What to do instead:
To ensure that your new website gets discovered quickly, get links. This can be as quick and easy as dropping a link to your website on a social media platform. For example, if you have a Twitter account, tweet a link to your new website or add it as your profile link. Twitter is crawled by search engines constantly; so a link to your new site will be discovered quickly. To increase your chances of getting found, use a site like Ping.fm, which offers the ability to post a message and link to dozens of social media sites simultaneously.

There was a time when meta tags (snippets of information embedded in the area of a page's code) played a large role in influencing search engine rankings. This was particularly true of the "meta keywords" attribute; a common way for site owners to reinforce terms important to their websites. However, unscrupulous site owners and SEOs abused the meta keywords attribute by including misleading terms entirely unrelated to their content.

What to do instead:
These days, Google is on record as saying they pay no attention to the meta keywords tag. So, the era of keyword stuffing meta tags for impact is officially dead. If your objective is to optimize a website or blog pages to rank for more keywords, try using category and tag systems to better label and organize your website content. Actively tagging your posts and pages is one of the most effective ways to enhance functionality, usability and overall "searchability."

Exchanging links or reciprocal linking is a popular method of building links. Website owners exchange inbound links with one another in an attempt to improve site rankings and traffic. Reciprocal links in moderation are not really an issue; as interlinking is glue that binds the Web. The trouble occurs when website owners actively engage in link exchange schemes to intentionally influence rankings - which Google deems a violation.

What to do instead:
Rather than participating in link exchange schemes, offer testimonials to business vendors you work with. Providing testimonials is an easy way to get a link to your website in return for writing something favorable and sincere about a vendor.

SEO, like any other industry, undergoes changes as it evolves. Be sure to avoid the outdated techniques mentioned here. Not only will your website suffer in rankings (to the satisfaction of your competition), but even worse - your site might be penalized for banned tactics.

About the Author: Ken Lyons is Senior Marketing Manager at WordStream, a keyword research tool provider for discovering profitable SEO keywords. He is a frequent contributor to the WordStream Internet Marketing Blog.