Today’s revenue-oriented businesses are increasingly inclined to create an online presence. But a mere presence alone is not enough to produce a successful revenue stream. Successful companies know they must also employ an Internet marketing strategy to get their businesses on the map.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one critical aspect of that marketing strategy and one that can be done with mixed success. For every company seeking SEO services it seems there is an SEO expert, but not all experts are created equal. As with any industry, there are  SEO experts who offer some of the best solutions in today’s market while there will always be others who are not experienced with SEO and lead their clients down a harmful path. This path often leads to a negative experience and the business owner believing that search engine optimization isn’t worth their time or money.

While many small business owners have no interest in learning the details of search engine optimization, they should still know the basics of what to do and what not to do. That’s why we have compiled a list of five of the worst approaches that inexperienced or unethical web designers and SEO providers use.

Worst SEO Practices

Five of the Worst Practices For SEO in 2012

Hidden Content

Some SEO providers use a technique where they hide content on a page in an attempt to increase search rankings. They place keywords on the page that are unreadable to the user but can be found by search engines. This tactic will backfire, especially after recent Google Panda updates, where on-page SEO factors are under extreme scrutinty.

The bottom line? Don’t utilize this technique. Search engines are smarter than some SEO providers give them credit for and this is one such technique that search engines are well aware of. If their spiders identify the usage of such techniques, the website is sure to be penalized and their rankings decrease or even worse, removed from search results entirely.

Overly-Rich Keyword Content

SEO is primarily based on keywords that are used within your content. The keywords should be well-researched since it is the key to drive traffic to your website. However, the keywords also have the potential to let your website down in the search engine rankings if not used in the right way. It is possible to over-think your keyword strategy. Stuffing your content with lots of keywords just to make search engines think your content is super-relevant will be considered spam by search engines. Trying to out-smart search engines using keyword ‘stuffing’ is a major SEO no-no.

Irrelevant Surrounding Content

Picture this, you see a wonderful story on one of your favorite websites. The story is about how a child adopted his first puppy from the local rescue and went on to experience years of joy in his relationship with this puppy. In the last paragraph of the story you find a link to an iPad 2 review. Would that strike you as odd?

Well, search engines would think the same thing. If you’re linking to pages that are not relevant to the content that surrounds your link, you’re sending search engines a strong signal that you’re trying to spam links to artificially improve your rankings. Your tactic will likely have the opposite effect!

JavaScript Navigation

While not all that common, some website developers employ the use of JavaScript to create links that are used to navigate to content pages in their website. This is a bad practice since the spiders are more likely to miss out these links and your child pages will not be indexed. Search engines have gotten better at recognizing and indexing these links, but why take the chance?

Animated Home Pages

A website’s home page has a greater impact on the search engine rankings than any other page. The home page is, afterall, the front door to the site and is most often the page that is linked when referenced by another site. Search engine spiders are driven by the text, content and links found on the home page and they are not designed to pick up the animations on a web page. I

f you are filling your home page with more animations and less text content then you may be losing one of the most critical aspects of SEO – your optimized home page.