Matt Cutts posted the site review session from Google I/O 2010 yesterday – troubleshooting a selection from the 500+ sites sent in for a little R&D following a generous offer on his blog.
With him were some fellow Googlers and Vanessa Fox, giving insights on common mistakes and problems when trying to optimise a website or page. From the funny to the ridiculous and the politically controversial, the sites reviewed threw up a lot of great advice. The video is HERE if you want a looksee, but if you haven’t got an hour to spend (I didn’t either but I let my dinner burn for the sake of blog research…) then here it is in bullet form:
- Put text on your page! Text embedded within images, however pretty, just isn’t going to get crawled by search engines.
- Think about the keywords people are actually going to search for, not just your goldmine chosen keyword. Don’t get obsessed about getting this one word or phrase to rank you number one – find out what users are typing in to get to your site and start to insert them naturally into your content.
- Let viewers help – adding the option for user reviews and comments adds relevant content and keywords to your site while you sleep.
- Utilise a variety of platforms to promote your site – social media, blogging, image and video sharing, business listings and maps – whatever is appropriate for your business.
- Brand thoughtfully. If you’re going to use an unrelated domain/brand name then make it brandworthy. If you’re going to use a generic/product related name then make your content worth reading.
- It’s better to put lots of work into one singular site than spread yourself thinly across lots of different ones.
- Display at least some content above the fold – ads, log in boxes etc are all fine, but if they’re all a viewer sees when they land on your page, they might not be intrigued enough to scroll down. We’re so lazy we don’t even want to click, so pander to our idleness, eh?
- Differentiate yourself. Cutt’s example was M. G. Siegler’s distinctive crazy headlines at TechCrunch. Don’t be one of the masses, be a standout in your field.
- Keep your blog software updated to avoid hacking (lots of useful advice regarding this on the vid) – you don’t want your site to be inadvertently selling Viagra or installing malware while your back is turned. And of course Google’s malware detection and fetch services were promoted to help this, which they will. In fact, Matt said it was “negligent if you haven’t registered your site at Google Webmaster Central”! So that’s told you.
- Oldest tip in the book but here it is again: Use. Original. Content. Don’t fill your site/blog with press releases or lifted text – good content makes people want to return to see what else you’ve written.
- Show some personality and be interesting and amusing but… there’s such a thing as Too Much Information. Don’t bitch about a competitor or broadcast offensive opinions. You’re automatically cutting off a certain section of your potential audience and it’s just not professional. (Or nice.)
- Use related internal links. “If you like that, you’ll LOVE this” is a very tempting offer. Cutts’ example was the fact that YouTube gets a huge amount of traffic from their ‘related videos’ option – very probably more traffic than from their home page.
- Use meta description tags wisely – they could be the deciding reason for a user to choose your site over another. Make them instructive, intriguing and to the point.
- Don’t overfill your page with text for the sake of search engines. They don’t need a dissertation to decide to rank it highly; they want what the users want – for your site to be useful and informative.
Hope that little digested read was of help for those short on time (or who put their meals above their SEO). Anyone else kind of want them to make a Google office sitcom starring those four characters? Just me? Ok then.
(Oh, and by the way, as a little side dish, we’ll be posting about writing an awesome-fantastic-unbelievable-kickass-incredible-awe-inspiring-literary-genius-money-making blog tomorrow, so make sure you tune in for that.)