Remember when search engine optimization was a new thing and it seemed crazy complicated? We may understand SEO much better today, but plenty of websites still haven’t caught up. These 10 SEO practices are not only outdated, but they could hinder your site’s rankings and traffic if you’re still using them.

Here’s what to stop doing—and the strategies you should be implementing instead.

For Starters, Do Your Homework

For Starters Do Your Homework on SEO

Before you decide to build or update the tools behind your site’s search engine optimization, make sure that you understand SEO to begin with. Google, for example, has an extensive listing of educational content to help anyone build familiarity with SEO. You’ll be better equipped if you’ve done a bit of research.

That leads to the next point…

Be Cautious Of SEO Companies

There are plenty of people running sketchy internet schemes, and this is especially true when it comes to SEO.

Be wary of any group who promises to push your website to the #1 spot in search results! Read up on their client list, track down information about their staff, and do your due diligence.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

If you’re building a new website, make sure that you work on your search optimization strategy well before its launch date. The sooner that you implement SEO best practices, the sooner that your site will begin building its ranking. You don’t want to wait until it’s too late.

Stay Away From Keyword Stuffing

This trick certainly worked for several years, but it’s dead and gone today. Previously, if you loaded your website with a huge list of keywords, search engines simply picked up your page because it was laden with the stuff that people were looking for.

Naturally, that led to a lot of sketchy, spammy content hitting first page, so search engines now penalize sites that employ this tactic.

Don’t Duplicate Your Content

Search engines regularly index websites in order to return the newest and most relevant search results for their users. If your site has duplicate pieces of content, search engines are more likely to pass your site up—they already have that blog post or infographic in their index, so why bother?

This is part of the next tip, too…

Don’t Cloak Your Stuff, Either

Cloaking is a more devious and calculated act in which a site administrator produces two copies of the same piece of content. One item is filled up with keywords and descriptions for search engines to recognize, while the other item looks innocent and even useful to site visitors.

Search engines will penalize a site’s ranking if they uncover evidence of cloaking.

Keep An Eye On Incoming And Outgoing Links

Watch the incoming links to your website—from where they originate, and why they point to your site—as well as the outgoing links you feature on your site, too. It takes hard work and a lot of time to build a successful website, and cheap shortcuts will only work for a short time before they end up costing you.

With that being said, steer clear of this next tactic, too…

Stay Away From Link Farms

Link farms are websites that group together in order to try and boost site rankings on search engines. Thousands of hyperlinks are embedded within the pages of these sites, making it look like they’re all super important and busy.

Search engines have wisened up to this practice, though, and they’ll quickly remove sites from their listings if falsified backlinks are heavily used.

Don’t Place All Your Ads Above The Fold

The topmost portion of your website—above the “fold” in newspaper terminology—is the best high-impact spot to serve advertisements to your readers. It’s why these are the priciest spots in online advertising.

If you’re serving too many advertisements to your users, though, search engines will burn you—not to mention that your users may end up leaving your site, never to return.

Lastly, Make Sure It Works

If your website takes longer than four to five seconds to load, you’re in for some trouble. Additionally, your site should be accessible every day, around the clock. Make sure that you purchase hosting from a reliable provider, use a modern CMS, and understand the best practices of web design and digital marketing in general!