5 SEO Tactics to Avoid

The world of search engine optimization is forever changing and eternally complicated. With tens of thousands of businesses, bloggers, and hobbyists all battling for the same rankings, it’s only natural to expect things to get messy. In fact, messy is a drastic understatement.

The high level of competition and significant financial rewards at stake drive many to implement dirty, dishonest tactics that serve to only harm the industry as a whole. Spammers want to make easy money; search engines want to remain credible.

This never-ending battle leads to rapid, fundamental changes in the way SEO works. What’s effective one year could very well cause a site to get banned from Google the next. Below are five tactics that all internet marketers should avoid.

Relying on Keyword Meta Tags: When determining page rank, search engines depend almost entirely on user visible text. This means text that users cannot see, such as meta tags, have been rendered virtually useless in determining rank.

This SEO tactic has been obsolete for years due to excessive abuse by spammers. Resting your hopes on meta tag keywords is a recipe for failure. Pick a few important words, put them in, and then move on. Title meta-tags on the other hand still remain essential as ever for proper SEO, due to their user visible nature

Hidden Keywords: One of the easiest ways to get a site banned. Hiding keywords by having them written in the same color as the background, or otherwise placed so far off the page that users cannot see them. This dirty trick is barely recognized by search engines when ranking, and is considered a blatant act of spamming.

Purchase Links: While many still get away with this shady tactic, their days are numbered. It’s in the vested interest of search engines to stop the practice of buying links to directly effect SEO. In fact, Google has thousands of editors employed in Asia who do nothing but review search engine results for quality purposes. Part of their job description includes detecting and flagging purchased links.

Along with teams of well trained human professionals, algorithms are also constantly searching for obvious patterns, such as words like “advertisers” or “sponsors” near the link, along with groups of unrelated links that don’t fit the topic matter of the page.

What happens once a link is flagged? At the very least it’s made useless for page ranking. In cases of flagrant abuse, sites can and will be banned.

Hording PageRank: Many have a false belief that PageRank is essential for determining how far up a site appears in search results. To expand on this, they believe that linking to other sites will “leak PageRank” to their own.

This may have been true years ago, but today it has a very insignificant effect on SEO. Establishing relevant and quality content on a consistent basis is now one of the most important factors for successful search engine optimization.

Cloaking: The practice of showing search engine crawlers different content then what is available to users. This is an infamous strategy used by spammers, which makes it an incredibly emotional issue for Google and Yahoo.

No matter what the reasoning, search engines simply do not care. Bots are routinely sent out with the sole purpose of detecting those who use cloaking. Once a site is found to be doing this, it is almost certain to be banned. The intent behind it is meaningless; simply avoid cloaking at all costs.

Those new to SEO and internet marketing should understand that trying to outsmart a major search engine like Google is futile. It’s impossible to match the financial resources and manpower of such a corporate giant.

Instead of wasting energy on trying to trick the system, use that time to develop quality content. After all is said and done, those who have high caliber content and effective marketing strategies will stand the test of time if this SEO bubble ever bursts.