Many in the SEO world joke that if an agency or consultant starts talking about title or meta tags to potential clients, they should be ignored as this sort of thing is now considered very basic and suggests that the SEO doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

But looking at the websites of some pretty major brands, it’s clear that for many people, SEO 101 is still pretty advanced.

I spent the weekend casting an eye over the website of an up & coming telecoms brand, as a friend had a job interview with them.

He had been asked to put together a media plan but wasn’t planning to include SEO. Surely SEO is just a hygiene factor. It goes without saying doesn’t it?

Yet as I looked at the site in question, or rather sites because they had a domain strategy which seemed to consist of buying every possible URL they could and littering the internet with duplicate versions of their main site, I noticed that the most basic elements of SEO were being ignored.

Title tags seemed to have been written by brand consultants, with no mention of products or services; description tags, which can drive clicks from the search results pages, were often blank; much of the content was in Flash; and what little text content there was had clearly been lifted from a brochure.

This would have seemed like nothing more than a single example of bad practice except that earlier in the week I had been examining the link profile of a very major UK brand and had found countless examples of very obvious link buying.

Whatever the pros & cons of link buying, which I won’t get into now, the one rule if you are going to do is to do so subtly. If I can find examples after five minutes of digging, so can Google.

As with any industry, those of us who work in SEO can often forget that we are not normal users, and not everyone would implement the basic SEO we sometimes think is barely worth mentioning.

So next time an SEO starts talking about title tags or your domain structure – don’t ignore them, they could be talking about you.