SEO strategies have been so abused over the years that now some can actually have a harmful effect on your site ranking. These bad practices are actively targeted by search engines and carry the risk of tanking your site or getting your site banned altogether.

Here are 10 SEO practices—that if you are still using them—you need to kick to the curb ASAP.

Keyword Stuffing

In the 90s, people realized that if you stuffed your site full of keywords, you could trick the search engines and get great rankings. Trouble was, the content was so bloated with keyword phrases that it no longer made sense and was a pain in the ass to read. Today, such keyword-laden content is often marked as spam and is thrown to the bottom of the SEO heap. The modern, effective approach is to use fresh, original content that is focused and reader-friendly.

Meta Tag Overkill

Unbeknownst to many, meta keywords don’t help your site rank higher at all—neither do meta descriptions. Although catchy meta descriptions can make your site stand out over other sites, they don’t do anything for SEO. In fact, the meta tag was so abused in the past, the Top 3 (Google, Yahoo and Bing) have publicly stated they no longer support this tag and will ignore it if it’s used.

Submitting to Search Engines

There is no need to submit your web pages to search engines anymore. Search engines are so advanced, they will find your site on their own—especially if you use simple tricks like link building. Add an HTML and XML sitemap to your site and submit the XML sitemap to Bing and Google Webmaster tools. Once you start getting links from other indexed sites, your linked-to pages will get indexed automatically. Also, get links from popular social media hubs to your site, as the search engines crawl these resources daily.

Footer Links

Footer links for the purposes of link exchange are not only spammy, they are ignored by search engines. Footer links also have a low click-through rate and can lessen the strength of the links appearing earlier on the page. If you must use footer links, use them for contact links or outbound links to valued resources, and leave your stronger links above the fold.

Not Using Analytical Data

A lot of webmasters think that tracking page views or conversion rates is not important and that if their content is good, that will all take care of itself. This is a fatal mistake to the success of a website. You should always check what’s working and what’s not working on your site. You need to know first hand what is helping, or killing, your conversions—and then adjust your business plan accordingly.

Relying on H1 Tags

Using major keywords in headings can boost your rankings. However, it’s been proven that whether your heading is in an H1 tag, H3 tag or H6 tag, it doesn’t make a substantial difference to search engines. So, don’t put all of your eggs in the H1 basket.

In case you missed it, Scott Polk talks SEO in this article.

PageRank Sculpting

Old school webfolk still believe that using “nofollow” on links to other sites helps them retain their PageRank-passing potential, so that they can use it for other purposes—but this is not the case anymore. Google designed the “nofollow” attribute in 2005 to fight comment spam, but in 2009, Google updated its algorithm and now if you use “nofollow” on an outgoing link, your PageRank will disappear.

Striving for Higher PageRank

According to Google, PageRank is one of the 200+ signals they take into account when ranking a site. In addition, Google is believed to update the information in Google Toolbar only twice a year, while your actual PageRank changes every second—so what you see in the toolbar could be not accurate in the first place. Simply put: Don’t rely on your PageRank to determine the placement of your website. If you need more help with your link building, check out SEO SpyGlass- a great tool for building out your SEO needs.

Comment Spamming Blogs and Forums

Nothing annoys a blog or forum community like a person who repeatedly makes short, irrelevant comments simply to get their URL out there. Pay attention to what others are talking about and post thoughtful and useful comments that add value to the conversation. People will appreciate this and will likely click on your link if they’re interested in what you have to say.

Doing Only Reciprocal Links

Reciprocal links are often referred to as the pyramid scheme of link building. Some are paid or free arrangements that bring little if any value to your site. Concentrate on building organic links by offering quality content and choosing your link partners carefully; i.e. partners who have established, professional sites/blogs with relevant content.

Are you still using these outdated SEO practices? Are there some listed here that you think still bring value to your site, and if so, why? Tell us in the comments below.

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