Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has gone through a series of transformations since it first came into being in the mid-90s, and it is a field that is still in a continuous process of evolution, as search engine algorithms keep becoming more and more sophisticated. Today, many of the SEO practices of the past have lost their effectiveness, mostly for the better. Here are the top 5 SEO practices that have become outdated. It's good to know what these are so that you and your company know what to avoid focusing your efforts on.

1. Relying on Metatags
Search engines stopped relying on metatag content to determine site rankings years ago. Today, they focus mostly on visible text. In the past, black hat SEO providers tended to rely heavily on loading metatag content with keywords that often did not reflect the actual value of the site. Title tags and description tags, though, are still important for helping search engines sift through your content.

2. Purchasing Links
The more inbound links you have, the more valuable and important your site looks in the eyes of search engines. Inbound links mean other sites find your content valuable enough to direct others to it. However, if your inbound links are links you purchased, it kind defeats the purpose of the ranking method. Google is still coming up with increasingly sophisticated algorithms to help weed out purchased their inbound links. The search engine also employs thousands of analysts whose job is to sift through search results, identify purchased links and flag them.

3. Duplicate Content
Duplicating your content on multiple pages to get more page views is no longer going to fly. Google penalizes sites with duplicate content and has even been known to ban sites that rely on the method heavily.

4. Keyword Cramming
Cramming as many keywords into your written content used to be one way of improving your rankings. However, keyword cramming makes for rather unreadable material, so search engine have actually started to penalize sites that over-use keywords in their content. Use a display advertising service if you're looking for some real results online.

5. Swapping Links
In the same fashion as bought links, swapped links do not reflect the actual value of a site. Inbound links are supposed to reflect endorsement, from one site to another, not trade. Google and other search engines are continuing to find more effective ways of identifying swapped links and nullifying their effect on rankings. This doesn't mean, however, that you should stop trading links with relevant sites that might be useful to your users.