We all remember the days when it was easier to get high search engine rankings by outwitting the system with questionable “bl@ck hat” search engine optimization practices. But as the search engines have improved their algorithms, many classic SEO practices have been rendered obsolete. However, if you search SEO forums or optimization agencies you will see that many of these self-proclaimed “gurus” are still endorsing these strategies as legitimate techniques. These techniques can and will get you banned from being indexed entirely.
This means you will have to start from scratch with a new domain name, new website and spend more money just to get back to where your old site used to be. In an attempt to educate business owners and eliminate some of the available misinformation, we will take a look at the top five outdated techniques and some approved alternatives.
Stuffing Keywords – In the 90’s when search engines first appeared, they were clumsy, unintelligent and easily manipulated. The more frequently you used your keywords in your written content, the more search engines assumed your site was relevant and the higher it ranked. The technique of “keyword stuffing” was a very easy way to manipulate the search engine results and was used as a basic starter by many SEO agencies.
The New Way – Now using this technique will always have a negative result on your site ranking, as Google actively pursues and penalizes sites with a keyword density that is too high for natural flow. So how much is too much? While there is no definitive answer, here are some rules to follow for creating content. Write your content for your readers and not for search engines. Let keywords flow through natural writing and don’t force them into your content. Use your keywords in the most prominent places of your pages. Use the headings, subheadings, title tags and meta snippets to include your target words in a natural way. Structure your site in a way that allows the most important keyword pages to be higher in the site architecture. This will allow them to be easily found by both readers and search engines.
Search Engine Submission – I was absolutely amazed when I discovered that many agencies still offer submission service. I have even seen some agencies charge for this service! I was equally shocked when I learned that some designers and webmasters think this is still a necessary step to get a site listed and ranked. It is not necessary and is not even recommended. The search engines have become so advanced at finding and indexing new sites that submission has become all but obsolete. In today’s internet world, waiting for an agency to submit your site, or even worse, paying an agency for submission is a complete waste of your valuable resources.
The New Way – To ensure that your site is found and indexed has become a matter of links. This can be as simple as creating a quality comment and dropping a link to your site on a social media site. For example, if you search one of the larger article submission sites for an article that is directly related to your industry, read the article and leave a thought-provoking comment with a link to your site. These larger social sites are being crawled by search engines constantly, and a quality link to your site will mean your site is picked up quickly.
Comment Spamming – Many agencies and webmasters still leave brief non relevant comments on other site blogs in order to drop links. I have even seen some agencies recommend this as an aggressive link strategy. This has been abused so much that Google has introduced a new link tag called the nofollow tag. This tells their spiders to ignore the link and not follow it to its target site. Using this technique will devalue your links and could get your site banned from search engines all together.
The New Way – When commenting on other blogs make sure your comment is relevant and could be of value to either the author or other readers. Creating well-written engaging comments is the best way to attract natural quality links. Often quality comments can generate editorial links, links from other blogs and new sources that search engines value far more than general links in comments. z
Reciprocal Links – Reciprocal linking, or link exchange, used to be a very popular way to quickly build links. Webmasters would trade inbound links with each other in an effort to improve traffic and search engine rankings. Link exchanges in moderation are not really an issue since links are the way the web is glued together. Where the real problem arises is when agencies and webmasters pursue reciprocal links as a way to influence search results and rankings. Google has deemed this as a direct violation of their policies and you can get banned.
The New Way – Rather than participate in link exchanges, apply to quality link directories such as DMOZ and the Yahoo Directory. Also offer to give your vendors and suppliers a real testimony about their services in exchange for a link from their site. Don’t overlook the possibility of putting your links on other sites that offer products or services to compliment your own. Some of these sites will be willing to promote your links through some kind of affiliate program, where you pay them a commission for each customer they send your way.
Meta Tag Information – In the past meta tags played an important role in influencing how your site was ranked. Meta tags are snippets of information placed in the HEAD section of your HTML code. Particularly useful was the “meta keywords” attribute that allowed webmasters to emphasize their most important key terms. However, webmasters and agencies abused meta tags by including irrelevant and misleading information to boost their rankings. Google has now gone on record as saying their new algorithms completely ignore the meta keyword tag.
The New Way – Now to optimize your site for certain keywords you have to think about your site structure. Use category and tag systems to label and organize your website content more efficiently. Properly tagging your pages and posts with your keywords is one of the most effective ways to increase customer usability and search engine “searchability”.
Like anything else technology related, the search engine optimization industry is always changing and constantly evolving. Be sure to stay ahead of obsolete techniques and check the results of your work often to ensure your current strategies are still effective. By using, or allowing others to use, outdated SEO strategies on your site, it will suffer in rankings, be penalized and eventually banned. While this may delight your competition, it will certainly not make your business look favorable to potential customers.