Blog SEO from Matt Cutts

Matt Cutts, of Google fame, recently spoke at WordCamp gathering for WordPress blog enthusiasts (like Matt himself, who blogs with WordPress rather than Google’s excellent blogging product “Blogger”).

This blog post points to Matt’s PowerPoint and several other sources for summaries of this presentation.

Matt’s view on SEO is important because most experts would suggest that he’s probably the most knowlegeable search expert *in the world* and is one of the few search engineers who is privy to basically all of Google’s Algorithmic secrets. Also, in my opinion Matt is honest and straightforward with advice, and therefore if he’s suggesting an SEO approach you are well advised to take it. I should note though that this view is not shared by some of the elite SEO people who seem to think Matt will sometimes “misdirect” people to protect the precious Google Algorithm.

My comment over there was:

Excellent post and links here Matt.
However I have a “beef” with the emphasis on linkbaiting and basic SEO as good ways to rise in the ranks (they ARE, but should not be).   I’d argue that in an ideal search environment SEO would have effectively *zero* effect on ranks (because it’s communicating with the bot not the user), and linkbaiting things would have only a minor effect unless they were highly relevant to the query.
We now see a lot of SERPS where you see a bunch of sites, all similar, ranked more according to how their SEO, history, links, structure match Google’s expectations rather than how a user would view them. Google generally argues that these are essentially the same but they are probably only roughly correlated.
The fix for this would be greater transparency in the ranking process combined with greater penalties for being deceptive.  If Google is going to aggressively defend the integrity of the algorithm the ranking process should be more accessible, especially to mom and pops who will increasingly flirt with disaster as they try to find ranking advantages.

11 thoughts on “Blog SEO from Matt Cutts

  1. I think that this is an argument commonly put forth by folks that are frustrated trying to achieve SEO success.

    SEO firms are essentially business consultants that understand the workings of search engines (Internet marketing). SEO firms work to get clients ranked for relevant terms which means that their work DOES deliver relevant content. “SEO” is essentially applying the tactics that achieve positive results. Changing the algorithms to something else will only cause SEO firms to adapt and use new/appropriate tactics. And of course, those that complain now about SEO will probably continue to complain about SEO.

    Successful SEO firms invest thousands of hours in reading, research, trial-and-error, and discussions in order to be the best in the industry. The answer for the SEO complaint crowd is to work harder, work smarter and understand the business . . . or hire an SEO firm.

  2. Jim I’m pretty familiar with a lot of the basic as well as the advanced SEO tactics and firms and it really seems to me that as a general rule hiring SEO firms is a questionable approach for most, especially small and medium sized business folks. Better to start a blog, write a lot of good original content yourself, plus spend your time reading Google Guidelines and making sure your web team is adhering to them and using terms, text, and context that is highly relevant to your field. Combine this with agressive PPC and you’ll be ahead of almost *everybody* else in most niches.

    This is not to say there are a small percentage of firms that do good work – I meet some of the elites at WebmasterWorld and SES and generally I’m impressed. However my experience hiring a very well known firm was a waste of time (I got my money back because I had insisted on money back agreement in writing and threatened to blog about the experience). In fact this experience taught me that I was very “advanced” in SEO even though I don’t do that kind of consulting – I had to keep explaining some of the new SEO stuff to them rather than the other way around, and much of their advice and tactics in 2005 were, like, so 2004! They had applied good basic SEO but it was nothing special, and contrary to what many SEO folks claim there are *very, very few* special tricks to use anymore. This last point is important because it’s the typical “scam” for both real and sham firms to suggest to people that they have secret sauces. Generally tactics that can lead to abnormally high rankings can quickly revert to penalties.

  3. Shhhhhh Joe, you’ve let our little secret out:
    ANYONE can be “advanced” at SEO if they simply do the very things that you have outlined, like blogging, good content, following guidelines, etc.

    IMHO, the only folks that wouldn’t agree with you are the snakeoil salesmen in this game. Every single reputable SEO I know would tell you in a heartbeat that what they do isn’t so advanced you couldn’t learn to do it (and then do it) yourself, its just that you don’t have the time or the experience, so you pay someone else. Just like a plumber.

    You sound a lot like me, in that I don’t trust folks that promise me that they can perform magic. If the plumber uses a tool that I can get at the hardware store and uses it with hands that look just like mine (no extra fingers or anything) then I’m just that much more inclined to do it myself next time there’s a problem.

    SEO, decent SEO, is pretty much the same damn thing.

    Good luck to you, and great blog.

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