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The Seven Ghosts of SEO

Oct 29, 2010 / by Dustin Williams

To keep with the Halloween theme that is a part of the month of October I have decided to write about seven SEO techniques that might have brought great results in the past but are now no longer effective. These techniques will be known as the seven ghosts of SEO.

1. Meta Keywords:

SEO Ghost

The Meta Keywords tag used to be the main tag for telling search engines what keywords were most relevant to the content of a website. A webmaster could include this tag in the head section of their website and fill it with the keywords that they wanted their site to rank for. Eventually spammers caught on to the fact that repeating keywords over and over in the Meta Keywords tag could cause their website to rank better. Google and other search engines eventually caught on to this and made a major change to their algorithms. The major change was to shift focus to links rather than Meta tags. The Meta Keywords tag no longer has an impact on search engine rankings.

2. Keyword Stuffing:

One technique used to rank well with the Meta Keywords tag was to stuff it with the targeted keywords. When algorithms were changed to go away from using Meta tags, the keyword stuffing technique migrated over to other html elements. Keyword stuffing titles, headers, alt attributes of images and page content became popular techniques for gaining improved search engine rankings. Search engine algorithms eventually caught on to keyword stuffing techniques and it is no longer an effective method for improving rankings.

3. Keyword Density:

With changes to search engine algorithms and the crack down on keyword stuffing, keyword density was soon born. It was determined by webmasters and SEOs that if the keyword density of the content on a specific page of a site was in a specific percent range, that higher search engine rankings could be attained. Webmasters began adding keywords into the page content to try to get the keyword density to be what they thought was the best percent. The problem with this technique was that everyone had a different idea of what the density should be. Page content started getting written to try to include keywords in the content to get the right density which caused content to drop in quality.

Webmasters and SEOs today don’t view keyword density as it was viewed in the past. Today the best strategy is to write content for the person who might visit the site and not to attain a certain keyword density. If content is written in this manner and keywords are included in the different html elements of the page then top rankings typically follow.

4. Hidden Text:

Because content has a big impact on search engine rankings, webmasters and SEOs determined that top rankings could not be achieved if enough content was not found on the pages of a website. Modifying content to include keywords or adding content to a page can require cosmetic changes so adding hidden text caught on as a good way to get the keywords on to the pages of the website. The most common way to hide text was to make the text the same color as the background. This technique was quickly labeled as a way to deceive search engines. Using this technique today can hurt rankings rather than helping them.

5. Footer Links:

One way to get hundreds or thousands of keyword targeted links was to include a list of links in the website footer. A footer could include 20, 30, 40 links or even more. Footer links don’t have the same impact on rankings today as they did in the past.

6. Site Wide Links:

The concept was that if one link from another website could improve search engine rankings then how about many links from that same website? The concept did work for awhile and getting a couple site wide links from just a few websites did have a significant impact on rankings. Now it is no longer as effective. Getting two links or two thousand links from the same website has the same impact on search engine rankings.

7. Forum Post and Blog Comment Links:

I am always amazed to see the people continue to expend their link building efforts on these types of links. There are so many better options to spend link building efforts on. Forum posts and blog comments used to be effective ways to get links. Now websites use nofollow attributes and are much stricter when deciding on what to allow and disallow where links are concerned. Posting short and pointless comments just to drop a link back to your site often results in forum and blog accounts being banned or removed. This type of link building today is just not worth the time spent on doing it.

So there are my Seven Ghosts of SEO. I am sure that there are other SEO techniques that also could be classified as Ghosts of SEO. If you would like to add one you consider to be a “ghost”, please leave me a comment.

Topics: SEO keyword stuffing seo techniques Blog seo ghosts keyword density site wide links hidden text blog comment links On-Page Optimization meta keywords footer links forum links

Dustin Williams

Written by Dustin Williams

Dustin is a former SEO specialist for SEO.com. He has been actively involved with web design and website promotion since 2001.

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