Matt Cutts from Google.com – Biggest SEO Mistakes + Walkthrough Solutions

This is a new chapter which I’ve added to my blog. I do a lot of research keeping up-to-date with the changing tides of web optimization. The one person who always provides insight into these changes is Matt Cutts who is SEO optimization, programming processthe head of Google’s Webspam team. When visiting other blogs, I find that many people often reference his work outlining the most recent changes but fail to provide a walkthrough on how to effectively implement these changes as you move forward.

In this series of “SEO with Matt Cutt’s” I’ve decided to start with the most common question that people are asking:

What Are The Top 5 Biggest SEO Mistakes That People Make?

What you’ll find out within this post…

  •  The 5 Biggest SEO Mistakes Outlined by Matt Cutts
  • Possible Solutions To The 5 Biggest SEO Mistakes
  • Some Solutions Include Screen Shots
  • Top SEO Tools Other Than Google Webmaster Tools

Biggest Mistake #1: Your Site Can’t be Crawled

This is a no brainer…right? How do you expect to get indexed when Google can’t connect to your website? Once you register a domain and post content on your website, Google navigates the web by crawling links from page to page. The site owner is responsible for determining if their website can be accessed which is all controlled by Google Webmaster Tools.

If you’re website can’t be crawled then expect not to show up in the search results.

Solution:

Start by setting up an account on Google Webmaster Tools.

Once you sign in, click the red button “Add a Site”

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Once you add your url to Google, it’s time for you to verify that you’re the owner of the domain which can be done using 5 secure methods. The easiest is to verify by logging into your domain registrar like GoDaddy, HostGator, etc.

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Now it’s time to check if Google is having problems accessing your website…

When you log into Google Webmaster Tools, you’ll notice you’re list of domains and next to each of them a button “Mange Site”. Click this button next to the website you’d like to manage.

On the left you’ll see menu items and clicking on the one labelled “Crawl” will drop-down a menu of other items. Click on Crawl Errors which will list the problems Google has encountered when attempting to access your site.

Look for these two common types of errors…

Site Error: Google will encounter this problem when it can’t connect with your website at all. Usually occurs if server is down or overloaded. It can happen if your hosting provider has blocked Google from accessing your website. These are the more serious errors because the cause is an external source which is blocking the crawl process.

URL Error: Google has encountered a problem on specific pages on your website. These are caused when a link on a page is broken or your hosting provider has blocked access to that specific page.

If Google has encountered a “404” error it means that the page someone is trying to access does NOT exist. The page could have been deleted or the link setup is incorrect.

Here are two great tools that will help you locate broken links quickly & efficiently…

Fetch as Google: Located under the “Crawl” menu drop-down. This tool allows you to view your page as it would appear within Google search. Copy and paste the URL of the page you would like to check and see what results are returned. If Google encounters a problem pulling up the page then it will notify you under “Fetch Status”.

The limit for this fetch tool is 500 URLs a week

HREF (Check my Links): A Chrome extension used to check the status of the links on that particular page. If there are any broken links it will show at the top in “Red”. Links that are active will be in Green.

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Biggest Mistake #2: Not Including the Right Words

When writing content the most important factor when optimizing is to include words that users will type within Google search. Here’s a quick example, Matt mentioned content written on “Mount Everest Elevation” and how the author optimized around that phrase. If he did his research he would have noticed that many people when searching would type in terms like “How High is Mount Everest” instead of “Mount Everest Elevation”. It’s important to do your research using tools like Google Keyword Planner to find words that have search volume. If you’re aiming for organic traffic and optimized your content for words that people don’t type in then you’ve pretty much eliminated your chances of getting any traffic to your page.

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Solution:

Always take 1-2 days doing research before writing any content. This will help push you in the right direction.

Here’s a quick overview of how I do research before writing content.

First, I start by generating content ideas which in most cases come naturally to me. These content ideas are from a combination of reading other blogs and magazines on optimization and marketing. When reading other blogs I’m looking for ways to improve the content either by finding unanswered questions, missing images or if I can include a video to make it more visual for the reader. If you suffer from writers block then view my article on Conquering Writers Block which will help you generate a handful of quick content ideas.

Once you have topic in mind, log into Google Keyword Planner and type in your core idea within the search box and start skimming through the results. Your “core idea” is your main topic keyword, for example, when writing this article I focused on “SEO Mistakes” and then narrowed it down.

In the end I had 1 keyword for each “mistake” that I am writing about within this content.

Here is the breakdown…

“seo mistakes” – 170 Average monthly searches (Total results in SERP’s – 170,000)

“add your url to google” – 590 Average monthly searches (Total results in SERP’s – 104,000)

“how to write compelling content“ –  40 Average monthly searches (Total results in SERP’s – 28,000)

search engine optimization tutorial” – 1000 Average monthly searches (Total results in SERP’s – 76,900)

best free seo tools” – 390 Average monthly searches (Total results in SERP’s – 593,000)

What does the above information tell you?…

I search for words with “average monthly searches” below 500 or have less than 500,000 results for that specific keyword within the SERP’s.

To make sure how well I’ll be able to rank for these keywords, I’ll take the first 4-5 websites in the search results and check the total back-links. There are two tools I use to check total back-links to a page so I can compare the results for a better measurement – MajesticSEO and AREFS.

Even though total back links is becoming less valuable when Google ranks websites for specific keywords, it still can provide valuable information like referring domains, last indexed and trust flow. Focus on providing high quality content by creating something better than your competitors. Again, visit the top 4-5 websites in the search results making notes and including what they are missing in your content.

Biggest Mistake #3: Lack of Compelling Content

Content is King” and you need to embed that into your mind when you’re writing content. Bloggers over the years have been focusing on link building and how it affects a websites ranking within the SERPS. Google has made it no secret that they are making a shift paying closer attention to compelling content and how people interact with your page. When creating content imagine that “link building” does not exist and keep your mind focused on creating special content for your readers. It’s your readers that will determine how well you rank within the search results depending on how many people share, visit your page and how long they spend on your page. Consider these 3 factors important because they all point to content which is compelling and attracts attention.

Solution:

If you’re wondering how to write compelling content, it’s something that cannot be achieved by setting a word maximum so when you write content, write without an end in sight. If you don’t set a word maximum then you’ll focus on depth rather than the actual amount of words written. When you choose a topic your goal is to have the best content online with your readers getting all the information they need to solve their problem.

Here are some tips that will help you create compelling content…

Always create content which has the potential of going viral. Research content written by your competitors and get some ideas. Use Topsy.com a social analytics tool to search for content which is creating a buzz in social circles.

Start by generating some content ideas within your niche. If you suffer from writers block than use my step-by-step process which I’ve outlined in this post: Ultimate Guide to “Overcoming Writers Block” – 8 Simple Steps.

Take your keyword(s) and pop them into Topsy.com and skim through the results. Look for similar content paying close attention to the amount of social shares each post has received. This tool will allow you to filter your results so your search is much more precise. The goal is to visit the top 4-5 websites skimming through the content looking for ways to make it better. Sometimes adding videos, images, infographics and creating podcasts is all it takes to beat your competitor’s content.

Here’s a quick example using the term “link building”

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Compelling content provides additional resources to your readers so don’t be a “link hog” only linking to content on your blog. If you feel that an external source can provide additional help to your readers then add the link. You’d be surprised how effective this method has been in generating social shares from other blogs helping my content go viral.

How does external linking provide a boost to your readership?

When you link to an external resource there is a “Ping” sent to the owner of that blog. In most cases they will visit the referring website to see what kind of link is pointing to their blog. Professional bloggers are very careful about links pointing to their website because bad links can harm the creditability of their blog. This is why Google has created the Disavow Tool, available in Google Webmaster Tools. Here what Google says about the function of this tool…

If you believe your site’s ranking is being harmed by low-quality links you do not control, you can ask Google not to take them into account when assessing your site.”

Let’s consider two things: A bad link can be blocked by the external website however if the owner reads your content and it’s a high quality in-depth post they might share it with their social circles. Some professionals have 100,000+ Twitter & Facebook followers which will help your content go viral within hours.

Let’s review…

  • Never set a word maximum when writing compelling content
  • Always link to external resources that provide additional help to the reader
  • Add images, videos, infographics

Compelling content can come from letting your imagination run wild. Contact other bloggers trying to setup an interview. Write down a list of questions and contact professionals within your industry. Write an interview post publishing the answers. Guest blogging, case studies, numbered lists and tutorials are all awesome content ideas.

I’ve created a post with “Content Idea’s that Never Fail” that will help you get started…enjoy!

Biggest Mistake #4: Poor Title & Description of Important Pages

We’ve discussed adding the right keywords to your page but it’s time to make sure that you’ve included the right words within your most important pages, like the homepage. Setting up your homepage “title” and “description” are essential for getting a high CTR (click-through-rate). When people are searching in Google, the results will show the page “title” & “description” which must be appealing to the user skimming through the results to ensure a click-through to your blog.

There has been much debate over how the “title” and “description” affects your search rankings with many people saying that Google does not take them into account.

Here’s what Google says about the importance of adding the correct information:

“There has been much debate over how the “title” and “description” affects your search rankings with many people saying that Google does not take them into account.

Google’s generation of page titles and descriptions (or “snippets”) is completely automated and takes into account both the content of a page as well as references to it that appear on the web. The goal of the snippet and title is to best represent and describe each result and explain how it relates to the user’s query.“

Solution:

Let’s remove SEO from the equation and focus on adding the correct “title” and “description” so that the user has a better search experience. A better search experience translates into a higher CTR for your blog. If the reader finds the keywords their searching within your “title” and “description” this just increases the chances of your content being read and shared.

Add your keywords within your page “title tag” and “description”. You’ve obviously done your keyword research which I outlined in Biggest Mistake #2: Including the Right Words, so just include these same keywords within your “title” and “description” before you publish.

Here’s a great tip, include words which tell the reader that they’ll find the answer they are looking for within your content. Add problem solving keywords related to your content. Remember within my previous posts that I’ve always said that the best content solves a common problem.

Install the All-In-One SEO plugin for WordPress which will help streamline the process and show you exactly how your blog post will look within the search results. Here’s how this blog post will look once it’s published:

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Biggest Mistake #5: Lack of Experimentation with Other Webmaster Tools

Even though Google provides amazing FREE resources like Webmaster Tools, Analytics, Blog and even Webmaster Videos, it’s important to test the waters with other search engines and their tools. The internet is all about trial and error finding out what works. Using other tools can help streamline the entire process.

Many bloggers have devoted their time in creating content which provides valuable information to their readers. You can learn a lot visiting other blogs and asking other people who are interested in SEO to look over your website providing feedback. The bottom line is to grow your website so take advantage of other free resources available to you online.

Solution:

Use the tools you have available to find other great resources. If you’re interested in “SEO” then visit Google’s support forum which will provide you a ton of information and other resources. You can do a quick Google search for the word “SEO” and explore other websites bookmarking the ones you find appealing.

If you want to find tools which can help you optimize your website then do a quick search for “SEO Tools” and skim through the results. A quick note on tools, always look for product reviews so you can get a better understanding of how well the tools actually work. Sometimes these tools will provide inaccurate information which will harm your website and is a complete waste of time. Use tools that have an awesome track record and produce results. If there FREE to use, it’s important to read reviews on their effectiveness. If some of them require a monthly fee then always find the ones which provide a FREE trial when getting started. Use that time to explore the tools finding out if there right for you.

Here is a list of awesome SEO tools which have an amazing track record…

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Final Thoughts:

I want to first thank Matt Cutts for providing insight into the biggest SEO mistakes that people are making when blogging. It’s important to stay focused on the end result which is providing something special to the reader. I personally think that the biggest mistake anyone can make is to provide low-quality content. The internet has long been considered a “source of information” so do just that and provide people with in-depth information. Google is merely a tool which organizes the information depending on quality and reach.

The above list of “mistakes” is perfect because they will keep you on the right track. Every bit of content I read I reference several times per month making detailed notes so I don’t make those mistakes moving forward. Take the time now to read over this content once more making notes so when you’re writing content in the future you avoid these common SEO mistakes.

Good Luck…