If you work in SEO, you know about Google’s SEO Guru/Web Engineer Matt Cutts and his Webmaster Help series of videos. Recently, Cutts has dropped a new Webmaster Help video, revealing five of the largest SEO mistakes a person can make on their website, and suggests some solutions to improve your website. We’ve boiled the video down to the main points for you:
The most egregious mistake, according to Cutts, is having a site that isn’t crawl-able.
GoogleBot is a web crawler, amongst other crawlers implemented by Google, which finds and indexes web pages by following links all around the Internet. If your content is good, but really hard to find due to a lack of good links, then Google can’t crawl it, index it, or rank your content. Cutts advises surfing your website in a text browser, by clicking on regular links, and making sure you can reach the pages easily. To view your site in a text browser, find your site through Google’s search engine, click on Google’s cache of your page/site, and then click the “Text-only version” link.
2. Use The Language of the People
Does your site use phrases and keywords that people search for? People are searching in an inquisitive/more conversational manner more than ever, and if you aren’t adapting to this, your website may not be searchable. For example, Cutts explains that if you have a site about Mount Everest’s elevation, you don’t want to put the words “Mount Everest’s elevation”. You want to form sentences, and ask questions, such as: “How high is Mount Everest?” because this is what users are going to type that into that search bar. Business, such as restaurants’ websites should include menus in plain text, not just a PDF option. Cutts want you to think like the common user, and tailor content to optimize the way those users are searching.
3. Link Building Overload
If anything has been hammered into the minds of web-developers about new SEO in 2013, it is this: Create compelling and unique content to market your site, don’t rely and over-emphasize link building. Cutts warns not to get “tunnel vision focus on just links…” he explains, “I would try to think instead about what I can do to market my website to make it more well known within my community, or more broadly, without only thinking about search engines.”
Give people a reason to use your site. Give them a reason to return. Rather than thinking of SEO as building links for search engines, Cutts explains that we must step out of the box to make content interesting, broaden the market with other refined marketing strategies such as interactive plug-ins and features, crowd-sourcing content, guerilla marketing, contests, focused community outreaches, and more.
4. The Importance of Titles & Descriptions
According to Cutts, don’t skimp on your titles and descriptions, especially on your home page or high traffic pages. It is a huge mistake to leave any page “Untitled” or something that is not highly specific. If bookmarked, how would a user easily find it later? Your description (the synopsis beneath the link to your site in search results) should lure people into clicking on your results by letting users know that your site provides an answer to their question.
5. Neglecting Webmaster Resources
Google provides nearly endless resources to help increase the visibility of the site. Use them! In addition to Webmaster Tools, Google provides numerous resources ranging from articles, blogs, videos, forums, tools, and more. Google is also diligent in assisting online users directly. Use the tools from other search engines like Bing, and compare results to create a comprehensive strategy.
Make your site crawl-able. Put the right phrases, keywords and content on your site. Develop unique content and marketing. Improve your titles and descriptions. And finally, use the free resources the Internet has gladly provided for you. With these common mistakes corrected and the basics mastered, watch your rankings propel in 2013.
For those interested in the full video, view it here.