I have to relate a very humorous story that happened at Pubcon a few days ago. Please read all the way through because the ending is special.
It always amazes me that anyone would volunteer their sites during the site review portion of a conference. I mean, here you have the search engine reps looking at your sites. That just gives me chills. In any case, the first couple of sites were decimated by the reps due to the webmasters' having numerous duplicate sites, which Matt Cutts found within seconds. By the time these sites had been hashed through, the reps were feeling pretty smug, I would imagine, as they flexed their spam-busting muscle.
Next up was a woman who freely admitted that she knew nothing about being a webmaster or SEO. Her site at first glance was a really nice looking site, in what I would imagine is a fairly competitive field. As the panel was looking at the home page, the woman informs us that she has been looking for years for a programmer to handle the site (the site is quite old).
The first thing the panel noticed was that the title of the home page was way too long and looked more like a description than a title. This prompted one of them to View Source. (Note that the audience can see all of this on a big projection screen). The next thing they notice is that the source contains not one Title, Meta Description, and Meta Keywords, but a bunch of them! Each one of them was unique, but they were all on the same page! At this point, although the crowd of spectators is feeling sorry for the woman, we can't help but start laughing at the mess. The woman then explains why there are numerous titles and meta tags on the home page. She says that she has no idea how to edit any of the interior pages, so she decided just to put all the information for each one of them on the home page. No matter how sorry we feel for her, we just can't help but continue to laugh, just a little louder this time.
Now, the panel member starts scrolling down further into the source of the home page, and it goes on and on and on and on. It is getting clearer and clearer that not only did the woman put multiple metas on the home page to cover the interior pages, but she also put tons of text (almost hidden text) at the bottom to refer to the interior pages as well. So, now we realize that she's got all kinds of problems, including nearly hidden text, nearly hidden links, multiple titles and metas, and just a general mess – all on a very, very long home page.
The laughter is unstoppable. Several people agree to help the woman clean up the problem, and we feel good about that, but still we laugh. Now the panel is essentially feeling extremely smug about the fact that they are stopping spam, and showing the world how good they are at doing so. But wait…there's more.
A member of the panel then decides to check the rankings of what he assumes is the woman's main key phrase (which I assume is fairly competitive, although I haven't actually researched it, but I'd guess it is). Guess what? The site is ranked #3 in Google for that phrase! Now, the crowd ROARS. All this time we thought the poor woman had egg on her face, but no! It seems that the egg is really on some search engine's face, eh?
You can be assured that every person in the room started wondering if adding multiple titles, metas, and tons of nearly hidden text and links might just give them a #3 ranking as well!
I purposely didn't include the woman's URL, so I wouldn't embarass her any more than necessary.