WordCamp 2007: Matt Cutts, Whitehat SEO Tips for Bloggers

Here are my notes of Matt’s session. Might be inaccurate, blah blah blah. Oh, and RSI, so might be a bit short. Check out the post on Matt’s blog too.

Update, August 2007: Matt wrote another blog post in which you’ll find links to his Powerpoint presentation and the video of his talk.

WordCamp 2007 Matt Cutts

Google doesn’t hate your site. Some guy invented an immortality device (with magnetic rings). His site looks like the love-child of Geocities and MySpace. He claims to have been repressed by Google because of the immortality device. No! Instead, view the source of the page. Ugly things hidden in it! Hundreds of words in a tiny textarea! Hence, the penalty.

Good plugin: SEO Title (swaps the name of your blog with the name of your post).

Don’t put your blog at the root of your domain:

  • what if you want something besides a blog?
  • people link to main page and main blog page, so you get some extra links that way.

Think about it.

Call your blog “blog” and not “wordpress” — you never know if you might switch.

What do SEOs know that bloggers might not?

Keywords

What might people be typing to search for your stuff? example… “lol kittens“! Don’t spam, but if you know what people are searching for, there are perfectly natural ways of slipping them in your posts. Use synonyms! steph-note: it’s also better writing than repeating the same words over and over again. Use this knowledge for good, not for evil!

Use category names which are good keywords. Dashes are best to separate words. Then underscores. No spaces is dreadful.

But wait! If everything is already in place, don’t completely mess up your urls to change. Leave the old stuff as it is, and make the new stuff better.

Use alt tags, or the blind guy at Google will get really angry. 3-4 relevant words. Keep it short.

Q: does having .php .html .asp in the URL make a difference?

A: nope. just avoid .exe ;-)

Dynamic URLs are treated just as static URLs. However, keep the number of parameters low.

Should I do an audio podcast, or a video? Well, depends on how pretty you are. If you’re not sure, try hotornot.com.

Usability

Make sure your site is crawlable (WP: good).

Q Ben Metcalfe: what about duplicate content WP archives create? Supplementary results?

A: Not too bad, but WP does suffer a bit from the fact you can get to a post from 3-4 different ways. Will have WordPress wishlist at the end of the talk.

Make sure post creation dates are easy to find.

Q: Does Google care about the number of slashes in a URL? (Date in URL)

A: Google doesn’t care about link depth.

Moving to a new IP

  1. Reduce your DNS time-to-live
  2. Back up your site, bring it up on new IP.
  3. Watch Googlebot and user traffic until they fetch the site from the new IP address.
  4. Take down the old site.

steph-note: heck, will be doing that soon.

Q: for mobile/iPhone, different site, or different stylesheet?

A: if you can, different stylesheet.

A2 from public: use Alex King’s wp-mobile plugin

Moving to new domain

  • use a 301 redirect

better:

  • do 301 on one subdirectory and when that is ok do the rest
  • write to everyone and ask them to update their links (useful!)
  • standardize www or no-www but don’t use both, also slash/no-slash

Free Google tools

  • webmaster console
  • feedburner (you can get feeds.mydomain.com rather than feeds.feedburner.com with MyBrand for free steph-note need to do that!! so you can leave feedburner…)
  • custom search engine
  • adsense
  • google analytics

Webmaster Console

It’s at google.com/webmasters

A famous web publisher used robots.txt to blog Google completely, then called in a panic “what’s the matter! Google is blocking me!”.

  • test robots.txt before pushing live
  • submit an authenticated spam report
  • remove URLs (for emergencies, useful!)

You can see the backlinks — who’s linking to your site.

Q: can google analytics harm your search results? (?)

A: nope.

You can see crawl errors which can give you hints on making your 404 handling better. Also, tell Google what your preferred domain is (www or not).

“Get noticed, then get traffic from Google” rather than “Get traffic from Google, then get noticed” (steph-note: yay, exactly the position I defended in a whitepaper on search optimisation for a client!)

Ideas:

  • PDF sign converter
  • Lolcat builder
  • iPhone app directory
  • say Google fast
  • sell your moustache on eBay — linkbait!
  • free hugs campaign
  • tutorials
  • analysis
  • hunting down wikipedia defaces
  • liveblogging
  • create controversy (like Dvorak!) — linkbait!
  • mention Robert Scoble
  • make lists (13 reasons why something rulez/sux0rs)

Be creative! (Well, maybe we need to embrace the fact there are many ways to get attention, and linkbait is one…)

steph-note: Matt is deadly funny… watch the video of the talk if it exists.

If you get popular enough, people might want to hack you. You can make your wp-admin accessible only via a whitelist.

A to Q: Google doesn’t look at meta tags much.

Don’t worry about the algorithm too much, focus on compelling content.

If you’re buying/selling links, make sure they don’t affect search engines.

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This entry was posted in Live Blogging and tagged Events, google, search, seo, wordcamp, wordcamp2007. Bookmark the permalink.

80 Responses to WordCamp 2007: Matt Cutts, Whitehat SEO Tips for Bloggers

  1. nice to meet you today, steph. and your recaps of the sessions are awesome!

    i hope your wrists are ok and that your butt’s not too sore… mine is still recovering. not looking forward to 8 more hours on those chairs. :)

  2. SEO Ranter says:

    Thanks for putting this up! There’s a good guide as to how spotting Wikipedia defaces can help with SEO efforts at Search Engine Land, http://searchengineland.com/070717-113550.php. What’s “liveblogging”? Is there any chance of a brief synopsis of the whitepaper on getting noticed that you mentioned?

  3. graywolf says:

    If you’re buying/selling links, make sure they don’t affect search engines.

    Why is my job, your job or anyone else’s job to fix the flaws in Google’s algo. They make quite enough money and have more than enough people to stop getting other people to do thier work for them for free

  4. Neuro says:

    very usefull

    Thansk for this

  5. Dax says:

    “sell your moustache on eBay — linkbait!”

    That was done purely for reasons of aesthetics.

  6. Rebecca says:

    I see what you mean about problems with the comments form. I was saying that the parts of the post that I could understand were indeed useful. I wanted to say that checking what searches led people to my sites has been very helpful in knowing how to title blog posts and what text to include so that people can find the info they need. However, at my personal blog I have found that people have gotten there by googling things like “knitting sluts” — I know they must be very disappointed when they actually reach the page.

  7. Dave Hambly says:

    Good stuff – still so little talk about microdata in the SEO realm. GRDDL rocks and Google really cares about pingthesemanticweb entries. So SIOC (Shock) the web and start marking up for the machine.

    Dave, CE – PSEM – RELAX SEO Services http://www.relaxseo.com

  8. Nice one Steph, thx !

  9. Rose says:

    Thanks for those recaps Steph.

  10. oggin says:

    Thanks for this Steph.

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  12. vijay says:

    I was waiting for more on wordpress to see. Specificaly on duplicate content avoidation. Which not addresses properly. Anyway top secrets hmmm!

  13. Lauren Scime says:

    Great recap – I missed day 2 of WP, but your posting rocks! Now I don’t feel left in the dark. :)

    I’m gonna link to it, so people reading my recap of day 1 can get some day 2 knowledge as well.

  14. Stephanie says:

    Lauren: I missed day 2. Matt Cutts was the end of day 1.

  15. Lauren Scime says:

    oops, i feel like a big dork – had to duck out a bit early b/c of another obligation. I thought he was on day 2 though…either way, I was sorry to have missed him and appreciate your thorough recap! :)

  16. mara says:

    this was very helpful, thanks!

  17. So link depth (slashes) doesn’t matter? Has anyone tested this theory?

  18. bill weaver says:

    Stephanie, Thanks for posting this. Interesting read.

    @graywolf, doesn’t he mean to be careful you don’t buy/sell irrelevant links, as that will water down the focus of a page’s content? If so then that kind of follows, right?

  19. Mike Thomas says:

    I really enjoyed your recap. I found it through Matt Cutt’s blog. Since I’m pretty busy it was a great way to get the gist of the talk.

    Thanks!

  20. It was really useful. Thank you very much. I’d hate if I had had to view Matt’s 1 hour video :)

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  22. Le placement dans les moteurs de recherche…


    Ceci est un document rédigé pour un client en juin/juillet 2007. Un grand merci à Béatrice pour son assistance éditoriale!


    Introduction


    On est souvent tenté de mesurer le succès d’un site internet par son placement dans les moteurs de re…

  23. Millbert says:

    Can someone give me an example of how not to “put your blog at the root of your domain” ? Thanks!

  24. Joe Hayes says:

    What about the info on WordPress’ dup url’s? PS – thanks for the write-up, much easier than going or watching the vids : )

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  26. Christoff says:

    Very usefull info. Thanks!

    BTW, what is LiveBlogging?

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  31. FireflySEO says:

    Cool, thanks for the summarised version, defo not got time for 1 hour video. All sounds great and in line with my thoughts on best practice. My only sorta query is about why not to use wordpress in the root of your domain. I know people might decide to do different things latter, but if you are a blog, mainly and foremost, why would you put it in a subdirectory. I personally think that the pro’s of having it as root uot weigh the cons.

    I guess the main question to ask here is “Why can’t you just 301 the pages if you decide to change”?

    Any reasons??

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  36. Seo Guru says:

    More questions - could I name my blog with my personal initials? About keywords, I’ve heard that Google changes its requirements to well-optimized web sites, it concerns keywords usage, do you know?

    Finally, thanks a lot for this article, it gives me some points to think about.

  37. Marian says:

    I wonder why some of my sites are in index really fastm while others take too long….

    Thanks for the tips.

    Marian

  38. Senior T says:

    Great write up. For those of us too poor to spend 2K on a conference, it is great to get the key points. This information is especially good for white hats.

  39. Adam says:

    I think the entire issue of SEO is a confusing one. Seems like everybody is confused by what exactly it means and the whole whitehat vs blackhat issue… Even readying Google's guidelines leaves you scratching your head on a number of issues…. I guess that happens in any new industry.

  40. Cebu SEO says:

    Does this mean that hidden texts are really easy for Google to recognize today? Well, one good thing I know of is that deep linking and trackback spam linking has lessened because I don't receive so much by the hundreds of those anymore these days. (sigh) and (deep breath)

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  44. Cool, thanks for the summarised version, defo not got time for 1 hour video. All sounds great and in line with my thoughts on best practice. My only sorta query is about why not to use wordpress in the root of your domain. I know people might decide to do different things latter, but if you are a blog, mainly and foremost, why would you put it in a subdirectory. I personally think that the pro’s of having it as root uot weigh the cons.

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  46. Andrea says:

    really like your summarizing style, an easy read. thanks!

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  48. Senior M says:

    Thanks so much…even still this helps me out… one thing I don’t agree with though is the tip to NOT put your “blog at the root of your domain”. I think you should if that is the main focus OF the domain..

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