Companies still using older search engine optimization (SEO) tactics such as link exchanging need to move on to newer strategies to avoid contravening search engines’ guidelines, an expert has said.

Mark Jackson of Search Engine Watch explained that link schemes where webmasters link to others’ websites – regardless of the quality of the content – in return for inbound links risk damaging their search ranking.

Website owners should instead concentrate on improving the quality of their content in order to attract natural inbound links, potentially through link bait such as tips and tricks, news hooks, humorous articles and jokes and useful tools, he advised.

"Sending press releases is also a good way to promote your business. And, many times, these press releases can show up in Google’s universal search results," Mr Jackson added.

He went on to note that a press release picked up by a blogger or the media could result in extra news coverage and more inbound links.

According to a survey by the Online Marketing Blog published earlier this month, 36 percent of US firms intend to focus on SEO as the economic crisis continues.