SEO, SEO questionsMany small business owners try to optimize their own websites for Google instead of hiring an SEO expert. There are dozens of out dated, ineffective or incorrect strategies they can use that will send their websites plunging to the bottom of the search engine results pages for keywords related to their products and services. Below are three common SEO strategies that do not work and alternatives that will actually help improve ranking in the SERPs.

Hidden Blocks of Text and Other HTML Elements

Some websites recommend that marketers place hidden blocks of text and other HTML elements throughout their page to increase keyword density. Though this strategy worked many years ago to boost ranking in the SERPs, it has long since ceased being effective. Today, websites that use these strategies to boost keyword density will likely receive penalties or bans from most search engines.

A maximum keyword density of between 2% and 6% is sufficient to achieve a good ranking. This density can be achieved naturally and without any need to hide content from visitors. Keywords can also be included in captions for photos, headings, subheadings and in other places where they make logical sense.

Bad Backlinking Strategies

Some backlinking strategies can actually have a negative impact on ranking in the SERPs. Outbound links to bad neighborhood sites as part of a link exchange scheme should be avoided. The incoming backlink is not worth the damage to the site’s reputation. Backlinks on paid link farms can also degrade a site in the Google SERPs as of the Caffeine update in early 2011.

Link exchanges with high profile, industry specific sites will be highly beneficial but are also extremely difficult to obtain. Some industry sites offer paid links, but these are generally NoFollow and valuable only for the direct traffic they may generate. Businesses can also contract with an SEO specialist for help building good quality backlinks.

Ineffective META HTML Elements

The keywords META element was once considered the most important to ranking. Since search engines now ignore this element, many believe that the other META elements are obsolete. Failure to give pages a proper META title and good description can have a negative impact on ranking in the SERPs. It can also negatively impact click-through ratios when users do see a site listed in the search engine results.

Each page in a website should have a unique title and description META tag. For best results, the title tag should be less than 70 characters and contain keywords and branding. The description tag should contain no more than 160 characters. The description should entice readers to click, similar to ad copy, but should also contain keywords that will boost ranking.

Do you agree or disagree?  Perhaps, I missed something?  Either way, I would just love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic… just let me know your alive!