Long ago back in the days of dial-up modems and token ring networks early on in the Internet search realm... and into the late 90's SEO was simple. Over time as marketers started to use unethical methods(commonly referred to as "Black Hat SEO") and abuse ethical ones in order to push client sites to the top of the search engines. Search engines started to adapt and adjust algorithms in phases to what it has become today, a complex set of ever evolving variables used to judge the value of your website within search results.
Now search optimization relies on much more than the content on and within your site, but how your site is used and reused by visitors, how its talked about in social media circles and more.
Some common optimization methods once used that are long dead and should not be used anymore include:
meta keywords, Once a simple way to tell the search engines what kind of content was on your site was one of the first accepted methods to become abused and thus outdated.
meta description, Similar to meta keywords was dropped by many of the major search engines for optimization even though its still used to provide "real searchers" with a valid description of the results site from a common search.
keyword stuffing, Never an accepted method but still widely used in order to push a site to the top of the results with little effort and now will provide you with a possible negative quality score referred to as "Page Rank" by Google.
link spamming and link farms, Another method not accepted was used to provide false back-link karma to a site, the thing about karma is it always comes back around and all those low quality back links can hurt your site today.
hidden text/cloaking, Similar to keyword stuffing this method was used to cram additional content onto a page but hide it from real visitors with either java-script or CSS but still feeding it to search engines and is now one of the best way to get you site penalized or even banned from search results such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.
doorway pages, Fluffed full of a keywords and/or phrase in order to maintain a top position with very little useful content and effort some websites had hundreds of thousands of useless pages automatically generated and crammed full of spam like content in order to try and get that top position on the search index for any competing word now gets you a nice removal from the search index all together.
duplicate/clone/affiliate sites, In order to gain market share sites were cloned for affiliates or as alternative sites for a firms main site with just a few word changes and perhaps a URL that captures a valuable term has become frowned upon. A company or individual should try to only have one site unless the products and/or services offered on the other site are mostly unrelated.
Link-shares/Interlinking, Common with the web sites of yesteryear and geocities this is no longer a valid method for improving a websites quality score or "Page Rank". Doing so will only get your site penalized with a negative link score.
What now? Search engines have gotten smart, the algorithms almost like AI are now much better at finding and detecting "black hat SEO" methods and punishing the sites that use them so don't be one if these sites.
So what do I do then, you ask?
For starters make sure you have unique quality content that is related to the services you provide. Once you have quality content be sure to provide visitors with a reason to not just come to your site, but to keep coming back time after time. Search engines now look at this data to help determine the quality of your site. Things to focus on include:
revisit or not to revisit, Your site will be judged not only by the people who visit your site but by the search data collected to help influence future visitors to your site.
people talk about your site, On social networks, forums, blogs and more. data shows that search engines are taking into consideration the words surrounding links to your site, not just advertising keywords but how people are talking about the site, the responses and feedback to those links and perhaps even just your business name.
business review sites, Although commonly abused by competitors, disgruntled employees and impartial filtering commonly associated with one company the search engines still take these sites very seriously.
internal linking, This not only helps your visitors navigate your site but also help tell the search engines what content your site contains and helps to properly index your site.
competitive content, Writing quality articles and content on third party websites allows you build quality back-links to your website and improves the name recognition of you and your company.
optimization, Having a skilled webmaster to optimize your content can mean the difference between night and say for bringing forth the full value of content within your site.
off site marketing, this would include anything external that points back to your site. such as; external blogging, articles, community involvement, social networking referances, local business listings, media and press releases, business review listings, audio & video marketing, case studies, newsletters, RSS, valid wiki information, off-site Q&A with backlink ref, group mentions, and more...
Looking to the future of Internet marketing, whats next?
You should also have a diverse method for attracting and keeping visitors on your site whether it be the content and articles that they are reading on your site or video's or other forms of media the
review value phasing out, Look to see a big change in the way this content is valued or perhaps it being replaced entirely with a less abused method for determining a companies quality altogether.
videos, audio and interactive multimedia, Whether it be about the products and services you offer or even informational videos about how to use them, this is becoming more and more common of a trend and look to see the information, even the words within audio and video to be included in the search index.
simple interactive designs, Including simple but effective ways to keep visitors interested in your site and coming back will surly be a way to improve your value with visitors and search engines alike.