Google’s Matt Cutts has become the official face of Google SEO in recent years. While the search giant like to keep their cards understandably close to their chest when it comes to giving ranking factors away, they do occasionally give us some clue what we should be doing to improve search rankings. Perhaps more common is the company’s willingness to tell us what we shouldn’t be doing. At the SXSW 2012 conference, Matt Cutts let slip a bit of both for us to sink our teeth into.
SEO For Google
The head of Google’s webspam team was featured in a video that talked viewers through a number of changes that Google were going to make. These changes would apparently level the playing field for mom and pop sites and enable them to compete with major sites, so long as they provided high quality content and were not guilty of over optimising a website.
Such utterings aren’t exactly new or groundbreaking. Google has long tried to extol the virtues of publishing high quality content and letting SEO take care of itself but, in reality, the majority of web pages would struggle to develop links even with regular and continuous posting of high quality content. A gentle push is sometimes needed, even if it is only to get the ball rolling.
Interestingly, though, Cutts did infer that a good SEO will concentrate on conversions rather than ranking for trophy phrases. He mentioned that websites who “over-optimise” are effectively abusing SEO. As he is in charge of the anti-spam team and mentioned that a few of the team were working on ways of identifying sites like these now, it is possible that a major update that would see over optimisers relegated from the top search positions may be in the offing.
Check Your Link Building Strategies
In case you’re wondering, Cutts did give a few examples of what is deemed to be over optimisation. Essentially, if you try to fit too many keywords into a page or you attempt to exchange too many links then Google may see you as an over optimiser. He also gave a more generic description, saying that if you “go beyond what a normal person would expect would expect in a particular area”. This is another indication that you should make sure content reads well and you have a good variety of quality backlinks for your site.
Meta Descriptions And Google SEO
Another interesting point that was raised during the video was that of the meta description tag.Metatags are often overlooked by website owners but they do have a very real use. Not only do Google check the description tag for spamming and, more than likely, for instances of over optimising, but they are also used when constructing the search engine results pages.
Conversions And Click Through Rates
The title tag and meta description tag are the first pieces of information about your site that a searcher will see when they use Google and other search engines. A good description tag can help ensure that you enjoy good click through rates. They can also ensure that you enjoy a good amount of targeted traffic for those keywords that you rank well for. Matt Cutts suggested that testing different meta descriptions could lead to improved click through rates and possibly to improved conversion rates too.
Quality Content, Quality Backlinks, Great Results
When Google talks SEO, the optimisation world tends to sit up and listen. Lines are drawn, and many attempt to read between them. On this occasion, though, it is easy enough to read directly from the top of the lines. Produce great quality content, don’t put all of your SEO efforts into one area, and test your meta descriptions to enjoy good ranking results.