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Conferences are great learning experiences oftentimes, but I’ve always marveled at how unprepared some people come.

I’ve traveled 4,000 miles to give a detailed, day-long seminar, only to get that sagging feeling you get when someone asks a really, really easy question that could have been cleared up in an email, or pretty much by reading the title of the seminar (that is, if the seminar title was – “Keyword Meta Tags Are Not THE ANSWER”).

But Keri Morgret’s post takes us to a new level of unpreparedness: the kind that can get you, as a seminar participant, in hot water. It’s not so bad if some of your fellow audience members will laugh at you (hey, that’s impolite)… it’s the idea of exposing illegal tricks to search engine reps who are sitting right there in the audience. (Sorta similar to my previous post, I guess.) Your source code full of hidden text? You probably don’t want that up on the big screen.

Keri’s longer list of basics to fix would be good advice for anyone. Not all of them are so basic.

And oh yeah, Keri, I’ve seen these too. The classic was repeated yet again at SES London last year in a Q&A following the “Meet the Crawlers” session. After a lengthy question exploring
various theories for why a site wasn’t being indexed, the Yahoo rep calmly viewed the source code and revealed – you guessed it – the robots.txt exclusion. Have I already told this story?

On the flipside, some of the level of detail covered in these sessions is a bit intimidating. It looks to me like some panelists make assertions rather than pointing to certain areas as testing points or debatable points. Some SE-friendliness rules of thumb are not literally rules; they’re pieces of the puzzle that need to be weighed against creating an overall compelling user experience and business plan. To beef up these sessions, I’d love to see examples of sites and pages that “seem to suck,” but rank anyway. That’d be food for thought.

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Andrew Goodman is Principal of Page Zero Media, a marketing consultancy which focuses on maximizing clients’ paid search marketing campaigns.

In 1999 Andrew co-founded Traffick.com, an acclaimed “guide to portals” which foresaw the rise of trends such as paid search and semantic analysis.

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