Search optimisation is often seen as a mysterious art, but examining a checklist of the "worst practice" that leaves sites partially indexed, poorly ranked or even banned can make it much more straightforward, according to one expert.

Stephan Spencer told Search Engine Land that a host of issues can hold back search engine marketing efforts and advertisers should examine their pages to ensure they avoid the worst offenders.

For example, brands could be hurting their online profile by having a content-free "splash" homepage, as most search engines rank this area as the most important part of a site.

Marketers should also avoid using the same title tag for every page and instead, should have each area "sing" for its own unique keyword theme.

On the subject of keywords, Mr Spencer said it is crucial to get relevant terms into content, hyperlink text and page anchors, but "stuffing" them in every available space will only damage a site’s ranking while also alerting competitors to the phrases a firm is targeting.

"Crafting pages filled with nonsensical, keyword-rich gibberish is a great way to get penalised or banned by search engines," he warned.

Eric Enge of Search Engine Watch recently said that only a "consistent – and constant – investment" in understanding the mechanics of optimisation will allow sites to maintain a top ranking.

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