SEO Advice: Writing useful articles that readers will love

Okay SEOs, what can you learn from my previous post about changing the default printer for Firefox on Linux? In the last week someone wrote and said “I want you to talk about SEO, and don’t give me any of that crap about good content.” I’m going to beg to differ. :) I wrote that post mainly because I’ve looked for this information a couple times and never found exactly what I was looking for quickly. That tells me that in this small niche, I could utterly rock the search engines. Plus once I figured out the info, it was only 10-20% more time to package it up nicely. Now this short content post can act as an evergreen draw for searchers.

Notice what I did with keywords. I carefully chose keywords for the title and the url (note that I used “change” in the url and “changing” in the title). The categories on my post (“How to” and “Linux”) give me a subtle way to mention Linux again, and include a couple extra ways that someone might do a search–lots of user type “how to (do what they want to do).” I thought about the words that a user would type in when looking for an answer to their question, and tried to include those words in the article. I also tried to think of a few word variations and included them where they made sense (file vs. files, bash and bashrc, Firefox and Mozilla, etc.). I’m targetting a long-tail concept where someone will be typing several words, so I’m probably in a space where on-page keywords are enough to rank pretty well. I don’t need anchor-text for “linux default printer” or similar phrases; in the on-page space, I’d recommend thinking more about words and variants (the “long-tail”) and thinking less about keyword density or repeating phrases.

The meta-issues I’d mention would be:
1) The utility of an article is paramount. If you write 2000 words about mortgage loans and never discuss the industry landscape or impart some useful, concrete knowledge to your reader, that should set off a warning flag in your head. So use this advice only for good (high-quality articles), not for evil. :)
2) Be sure to study your niche. I just spent 10-15 minutes to tackle the “default printer in Linux/Firefox/Mozilla” space. Is that niche worth writing an article about? Well, it was for me, because I was looking for this information myself. In general, any time you look for an answer or some information and can’t find it, that should strike you as an opportunity.

But the larger point is that if you put in time and research to produce or to synthesize original content, think hard about what niches to target. My advice is not to start with an article about porn/pills/casinos/mortgages–it’s better to start with a smaller niche. If you become known as an expert on (say) configuring Linux or hacking gadgets, you could build that out with things like forums to create even more useful content. Look for a progression of niches so that you start out small or very specific, but you can build your way up to a big, important area over time.

There are a lot of niches that just take sweat equity. You could be the SEO that does interviews. Or the SEO that transcribes Matt’s videos. Or the SEO that makes funny lists. Or the SEO company that provides webmaster radio. Or the SEO that makes podcasting easy. Or the SEO that specializes in a certain content management system or shopping cart. Or the SEO company that specializes in Yahoo! stores. Or the SEO that specializes in accessibility. Or the company that mocks Silicon Valley and its companies. Or the SEO that specializes in AdWords API ROI tracking. Or you could be the SEOs that write-up a summary of every panel at every search engine conference. Or the company that does cartoons. Or the SEO who pays attention to Google Base, Google Co-op, Yahoo! Answers, or Facebook. Or the SEO that provides Firefox plugins. Or the company that provides metrics and tracking for blogs. Or the SEO that talks about patents. Or the SEO that specializes in dynamic sites. Eye-tracking. Beginner SEO tutorials. Making maps mash-ups. Ajax SEO. SEO for non-profits. SEO for Second Life or MySpace. SEO to repair a company’s reputation. SEO for MySQL, Python, Ruby on Rails, WordPress blogs, or .NET sites. The SEO that surfaces databases or Flash sites. SEO for self-publishing authors. The SEO that does radio ads.

An infinite number of niches are waiting for someone to claim them. I’d ask yourself where you want to be, and see if you can find a path from a tiny specific niche to a slightly bigger niche and so on, all the way to your desired goal. Sometimes it’s easier to take a series of smaller steps instead of jumping to your final goal in one leap.

199 Responses to SEO Advice: Writing useful articles that readers will love (Leave a comment)

  1. Something else to consider is that interactive content (like games, or tests) as well as video and audio content (create a viral video or song) is also often heavily and quickly linked, which helps the pagejuice, if that’s what you’re after. Then again, maybe the real skill is not really wanting to achieve great content for the sake of being linked and improving rankings, but to create the content because you have something to say about it… because you really care about the subject.

  2. “In general, any time you look for an answer or some information and can’t find it, that should strike you as an opportunity.”

    I love this quote. I like to ping my friends, who are not totally internet-savvy, every once in a while and ask them for their input on failed searches that they have attempted recently… it’s a great resource for new project ideas! :P

  3. Aww, Matt you’re giving away my secret.

    Thats how most of my websites start… with me searching for something and not finding a good result..

    Filling a need is the best SEO there is.

  4. In general, any time you look for an answer or some information and can’t find it, that should strike you as an opportunity.

    This indeed was the inspiration for some sections of my site. I needed stuff for my own usage and it didn’t exist in the format I needed. As I built what I needed in off line databases it became apparent that those resources would be valuable to others so I made them available on line.

    One can build some really amazing stuff by simply following Matt’s advice I quoted.

  5. Rob Said

    You forgot to splatter the page with AdSense ads!

    Sheesh Matt, i really don’t think you’ve got the hang of this Internet malarkey!

  6. This might be my favorite Matt Cutts blog post ever. It put a smile on my face in a satisfied, sort-of “hopeful that the world will turn out alright” way that was badly needed at the end of a very tough day.

    Thanks for that.

  7. That second-to-last paragraph made me think Matt was trying to rank well for SEO ;)

  8. Matt, you seem to have forgotten the most important SEO secret ever: Follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. You can’t go wrong with those, unless you’re trying to get listed in MSN or Yahoo, in which case you could just try doing the complete opposite of G’s Guidelines. ;)

    Great post.

  9. Dave (Original)

    RE: “In general, any time you look for an answer or some information and can’t find it, that should strike you as an opportunity.”
    ==========================================

    Or it’s a topic very few people are bothered about :)

    I often run a AdWord campaign to get a rough guage of what users are using to find specific topics. Have used WordTracker etc in the past and….well, who/how many use Meta searches compared to Google!

  10. “That tells me that in this small niche, I could utterly rock the search engines…”

    Well, if anyone should know what rocks the SEs, it’s you. And certainly a site would rocket to the top of the return list for searches on configuring Linux printers if a good how-to-article on the subject were added to it.

    But you are addressing your blog entry to the SEO community. Can we therefore assume that putting content that is –. uhm, shall we say “somewhat less than relevant” (like printer configuration instructions) — on an SEO site will not negatively effect the site’s ranking in searches for things like “search engine optimization providers?” .

  11. Did you get a call from the FBI yet Rand? ;-)

    I have a simple rule, only write about stuff you enjoy, works for me but just wish it was something that paid a few bills! You can’t help but get a little jelous of those who hold up those huge paychecks from spammin’ and jammin’. My interests are in low traffic areas but for me it is about learning, growing and finding that zen place.

    Also ever notice how quality, accurate and passionate writing requires very few backlinks? ;)

    The

    GREAT

    equalizer

    Thanks Google, I think a few are starting to wake up to your fairness algorithm.

  12. Matt… you didn’t have to do a post about me. :D Thanks! Yes, I do interviews, the only podcast that teaches SEO, I do wacky lists and all that good stuff you wrote. :D

    It is true you need to find your niche and own it. You can start small and build it up. People needs to set goals and achieve them. I started with articles, went to building a forum and then a podcast. We need to have better SEO’s and let’s run those fakes out of town. So please be the best and what you do. Let’s educate people. The better educated they are, the less chance of SEO getting a bad rap. I hear about what a scam it is(SEO), by people who have been burnt. I do my part. We need to all have a part in that.

  13. There are two concerns worth exploring…..

    Would not the vibrant use of SEO on this post send red flags of a keyword Stuffing nature (which has been warned-off in this forum)? :-(

    Also as opposed to simply using SEO so vigorously, would not it be productive to alternate with Search Engine Optimization (optimisation) placement etc…?

    Also even if one does pursue the tactic of Consciously using different FORMS of a keyword in one article – SYNONYMS are also important – and thus Keywords in Back Links play an important role with Link Exchanges and Rankings.

    There are only so many variations that one can use in one piece, before it begins to have an odd effect. :?

  14. Am I the only one who noticed you slipping all of those SEO keywords and phrases into the post as a subtle suggestion of niches one could pursue?
    That is a crafty move by a veteran blogger if I have ever seen one.
    Great info and great job optimizing the article.
    Thanks!

  15. >>Notice what I did with keywords. I carefully chose keywords for the title and the url (note that I used “change” in the url and “changing” in the title).

    Matt – I see on forums the mention of penalties for using the same exact words in the url and title. We use a CMS that makes them exactly the same as a default. Is that a bad practice?

  16. dazzlindonna

    Wow, Matt, now that post was spoken like a true SEO (of a certain kind). Seriously, good stuff. Thanks.

  17. Hmm, the first time I’ve felt the desire to respond to a blog comment in a long time. This is a good one, really key. It’s so simple once you’ve been around SEO for a while too. Hopefully more people pick up on this (or that they don’t, leaving all these great opportunities for the rest of us who figured it out (even if we couldn’t summarise it as succinctly). :D

  18. WOW, your keyword density for “SEO” just when through the roof!!!

  19. TxRex

    Now how smart does one have to be to recognize a hidden spam attack on different words? Take the second to last paragraph of Matt’s post beginning with…

    [ There are a lot of niches that just take sweat equity....]

    and ending with…

    [ The SEO that does radio ads. ]

    To list every potential idea that ties to various established well known sites and/or programs by using their name with SEO repeatedly…well that seems a little spammy to me…

    Now why would Matt do something like that? To teach use how to do a niche OR to test how effective a new Google code detects junk? I really don’t think it is a matter of Matt needing more traffic from different hits this post might get from the search engines with the word SEO and whatever it was tied to above. People…think…read the post again and just skip the 2nd to last paragraph. The post maintains it’s theme and message without that paragraph. The only purpose for a paragraph like that is to spam the search engines.

    So…Matt…really now…tell us…
    Are you teaching…OR….Are you testing?

  20. You could be the SEO that does interviews.

    Isn’t that Pratt? Don’t think A-dizzle would like anyone horning in on his market.

    He’ll JACK you 404-style, homie! And then he’ll Dax your ass!

  21. Harith

    I guess one of the important signals of this post must be:

    “thinking less about keyword density or repeating phrases.”

    Which could indicates that the current algos/filters pay no attention to keyword density! I.e keyword stuffing wouldn’t have any effect on raking on Google serps! Very smart move ;)

  22. Pay attention txRex, the example was his linux printer post, this post is obviously in good humor, take your anti-autism 2.0 pill dude.

    Niche sites.

    Gheesh, must….go…….to……..bed…..now.

  23. So…Matt…really now…tell us…
    Are you teaching…OR….Are you testing?

    That paragraph did leave me puzzled. It did seem to cross the line of a safe key word density. I didn’t even like the paragraph from a readbility standpoint.

    Matt, what are you doing? Are you trying to play games with our minds?

  24. This just goes along with what I have been teaching my students…

    Become an expert in your market before you try to “dominate” it.

    By expressing your content as an expert, you will naturally include keywords that are semantic with broader keywords in your market and as time and content progress, you will naturally rank for broader and broader keywords because your site is seen as a true authority on the subject matter.

    As you become an “expert” you will locate huge “untapped” information gaps that could easily be explioted to drive traffic and trust into your broader marketing game plan.

    Focus on content and the expert keyword verbiage will flow naturally from your keyboard which will result in a burst of interest and visitor activity from areas you could never guess from your favorite keyword research tool.

    I like the fact that you mention meta factors…

    It seems that semantics plays a big role in rankings…

    You can talk all day about mortgage loans (for example) but if your content isn’t inductry specific (discussing on-time, industry specific topics related to or semantic with mortgage loans) then you should question the value that you are giving to the potential reader.

    It seems that Google (as well as others) is using semantics to guage the quality of content and it is very hard to “fake” yourself as an expert.

    This is a great confirmation for me and my students!

    Thanks Matt!

  25. An infinite number of niches are waiting for someone to claim them. I’d ask yourself where you want to be, and see if you can find a path from a tiny specific niche to a slightly bigger niche and so on, all the way to your desired goal. Sometimes it’s easier to take a series of smaller steps instead of jumping to your final goal in one leap.

    Nice. Very, very nice. :)

    Definitely one of your best posts. :)

    -Michael

  26. “Or it’s a topic very few people are bothered about”

    Dave (Original), I’d absolutely agree that one has to allow for the fact that one may just be weird. :)

    BillyS, I wouldn’t worry about that. Lots of people use the same words in title and url. But varying the words might help you show up for a broader variety of terms.

    I’m not testing, TxRex. That’s the way I’d say it if I were talking, so that’s how I wrote it. But I am not a fan of the “make one laser-focused high-density page for one phrase” approach; I favor the “write one really informative article that has most of all of the important keywords” approach. Of course, I feel the same way about making a small number of really great sites instead of making a ton of domains. :)

  27. …or the SEO who does the conference party posts ;)

    Awesome post Matt, I was just going to comment on wow, one of the better posts I’ve read in a long time before Rand beat me to it…

    What I do find funny is the overanalyzation of these posts. For people that know Matt, (cuz we’re best buds…I have many, many pictures with him) is that he wrote that post just the way he would normally speak it.

    No mind tricks here.

  28. LOL…OK…look at the time that Matt and I both posted…I seriously did not have time to read his comment and then post my exact similar comment.

    Great minds think alike Matt!!!

  29. Teodor Filimon

    I agree with Michael :) + your posts are refreshing and full of info. Thanks for the tips.

  30. Dave (Original)

    RE: “It did seem to cross the line of a safe key word density”
    =========================================

    That implies there is a KWD line and you know what it is.

    It’s all really simple. Write for humans and don’t even think about KWD. If you do give thought to KWD you are *trying* to write for SE’s. BIG mistake!

  31. Thanks for the really inspiring post Matt.

  32. Matt, great post and advice. A lot of the mom and pops are just starting to learn about “SEO” and it’s important they understand they don’t need tricks – rather improved and expanded content. I just hope this info makes it out to them as well as all the SEOs who read your blog religiously. Sometimes you are preaching to the choir here.

  33. Woo-hoo, that was one tour de force, Matt! Thanks!

    Lucky

    ////////////////////////

  34. Jan-Coen

    I was going to ask you what happend on 17 Aug 2006, but I think I have found the answer.

    Thanks!

    JC

  35. TxRex

    Aaron Pratt… one of the things my buisiness does helps families who have children with autism… thank you for bring it up…

    Alot of people read what Matt posts…some will respond and some won’t. Most are searching for a little insite. The subject matter of this post gives great insite into writing articles. Sometimes one has to toss in a little thought to make a point to those who might be silent and take some of the info in the wrong direction. There was a time when “SEO” people took paragraphs like that and used them as hidden text. There was a time when “SEO” people took paragraphs like that and placed them so far down the page one would have to scroll for 5 minutes just to see it. That is spamming the index. Whether one talks like that in person or not doesn’t matter to the search engine algos / filters when it comes to detecting spam or being reported as having spammed. Most buisiness In the brick and motar world would not use an article with a paragraph like that… so I challenge the “SEO” world to write for the people and not for the search engine. Maybe then the search engines will gain the time to create a search engine that allows for us to select what type of info our search term should be associated with…much the same way traditional libraries allow for us to find the book we need.

    Matt…I agree…a small site with several connecting themes is far more useful than multilple sites displaying one theme each. As far as whether a “laser-focused high-density” or “important keywords” page approach, my thought would be neither. If you were writing a term paper in college, a newspaper article or some type of advertisement, you would use neither. Write the articles as how they are…a tutorial, news event, advertisement, etc…and write them for people as people will be the ones you want reading them.

    The last thing any of us want is a response like
    “That paragraph did leave me puzzled…. I didn’t even like the paragraph from a readbility standpoint.”

  36. Hi Matt,

    This is exactly why it is a bad thing that Google Trends needs a minimum amount of searches before it shows statistics on a searchterm. Most good niche keywords are below that threshold, but I want to know if my effords of building good content aren’t completely wasted on the wrong topic.

    Could you guys lower the required amount of searches on Trends?

  37. JB

    Matt

    I fully subscribe to the advice you have given here.

    But, what about industries where people don’t want to read information, they want functionality/booking engines/quote engines.

    Basically, industries where the main focus of attention is price.

    I know sites with lot’s of unique, hand written content that hardly ever gets viewed, because people want to cut to the chase!

    Have you got any advice of how people should start off and grow in industries such as these?

  38. matt, that’s a good one. but i wonder if not the seo article itself is the better example for such a long tail approach ;-)

    would be nice to see future stats for this page(s).

  39. Great post Matt. This goes a little way to answering a question that’s been bugging me. Should I SEO my site or not? As I thought deep down it’ just about making pages for humans and ignoring the engines. Trouble is there are SEO techniques embedded in how we put our pages together. Should be unlearn all these or an I getting paranoid?

    Thanks again Matt

  40. I must say this is one of the best posts I read. It gives everyone the opportunity to lead certain subjects and not those that have been tackled many times. Not really a secret, just common sense.

    Hopefully someday when someone searches for something, they’ll never turn out frustrated in their searches. In that way they become inclined to use search engines ever more.

  41. After just reading your post I get the feeling that you just wanted to keyword stuff it with the term “SEO”. It must appear at least 20 times only in the last paragraph, at least twice in the title and I couldn’t even be bothered to check the source code meta’s.

    Is keyword stuffing a practice that you advocate?

    Could you discuss why Google take so long to remove pages that no longer exist, please.

    James.

  42. Good post ill point my collegues at it.

    The problem is how does one sell the hard work required to create content to the average project manager or client.

    We where cheking one of our clinets and found some one that was p2 in the index for what loloks to me like a spam site.www.thetwenty20cup.co.uk/directory/inflatable_bouncers/inflatable_bouncers.htm

    oh and i found a page on that site with an adsense add forfake okley shades

  43. Hi Matt,

    Nice SEO (coff – LINK BAIT), those two paragraphs look like some of my pages from the late ninties. Thanks for the memory (oh that’s right most of them still rank – or should I say outrank ;-)

    (also Mr SEO – Please don’t comment spam your podcast announcements, I have read the same spam from you already twice today, there has to be a better way, no??)

  44. Well, another page on the internet about :

    “SEO Advice: Writing useful articles that readers will love”

    Writing “useful articles” is easy. There is 1 problem though. There are literally millions and millions and millions and millions of “useful articles” out there. It needs something extra to also be useful for the website and not just for the readers.

    So,.. Matt,… if you could do a post about:

    SEO Advice: Writing useful articles that people will link to.

    That´s the type of articles we want to write as well. And in my experience, just “useful” isn’t going to do it.

  45. Matt… Please share… what search phrases are bringing traffic to the “Changing the default printer on Linux and Firefox” page as a result?

  46. Leo

    Matt,

    Are you trying to get your site in the top ten for the SEO related keywords?

    SEO + interviews.
    SEO + Matt’s videos.
    SEO + company + webmaster radio.
    SEO + podcasting.
    SEO + content management system
    SEO + shopping cart
    SEO company + Yahoo! stores.
    SEO + accessibility.
    SEO + AdWords + API + ROI + tracking.
    SEO + search engine conference.
    … to name but a few

  47. Bob L

    Matt,

    Great post.

    I want everyone who doesn’t think that content, or on-site stuff matters anymore to read this. Anyone writing an article should try their best to understand the related keywords, and the value they create, and not just jam a keyword or phrase over and over and over.

  48. Jay R

    Wow, terrific post; filled with hearty, USDA approved brainfood!

  49. check the other search engines, Matt’s pretty much already there Leo

  50. Yeah, finally a “real” post about SEO, Matt! That’s some excellent advice, really.

  51. I disagree with you. I think figuring out the information takes the first 90% of the effort. Then to “package it up nicely” takes the next 90% of the effort.

  52. Manual Pingback:

    http://www.associateprograms.com/discus/sutra81951.html#81951

    And an excellent post. Many people fail to follow this advice. I know I have in the past (and hopefully never in the future).

  53. Thanks Matt for the great post/experiment. You certainly have quite an SEO view of the whole thing, especially if you read the many endorsements for unique, clear, and concise content paving the road to success in the SERPs.

    I wonder if your use of the “chang(ing) in the text link from this post to the Linux post will combine with the Title to gain traction quicker than the search for “chang(e)?” Or should these theoretically move up the rankings, all other things considered equal, at the same pace?

    Thanks again for the great “insite!” (sic) ;)

  54. Wow Matt you have really caused a bit of a stir with this post. Everyone is talking about it, have seen a few with instances of your SEO

  55. Peter (Brane) – I believe what Matt describes is focusing on a niche, it is the great equalizer. If there are millions of hotel sites all with quality content then you are in a Viagra like sector and you are correct, you need other factors to influence your success. This doesn’t have to include spamming if you do it right and it is Google’s job to NOT allow spammers to win the prize.

    Focus on the most accurate quality content for your visitors and links will eventually come. Websites take several years to build, SEO’s who have clients do not have time so those of you out there in your underpants at home have an advantage.

    Life is good! :)

  56. Peter, the trick isn’t to just write a useful article, it’s to write a useful article that fills a need, or to make a site concept that’s a different twist on something else… that fills a need.

    Example.. there’s a ton of articles on the web about internet slang, and a ton about keeping your kids safe on line…. so it didn’t take much for me to write “internet slang every parent must know”. It filled a need, and eventually got picked up by magazines. That’s kinda how my noslang.com website started.

    Another example is my text message sites. Millions of sites let people send text messages, so I made mine give out code to put the little form on their myspace page or website..boom instant need that people didn’t even know they had. (of course it worked too well.. now there’s like 9 million people offering that) Fill the need… when others copy, you did something right.

    For Matt’s example, he went a different route. Instead of just answering a linux question with “OMG, RTFM N00b….. go back to using your mom’s doze machine”, or telling the person that printers are “l4m3″, he answered it with easy to follow, clear advice; something that’s often not found in the linux community.

    you do SEO, which given it’s volume (there’s probably more people selling SEO than buying), it may be hard to come up with something unique.

    Offer something that most SEOs don’t offer, then talk about that. Maybe article writing(as most just tell the client to write articles), or some sort of metrics, or anything other than the typical “get your site on the top of Google.” stuff we’re all tired of hearing.

    If I ran an SEO company I wouldn’t even mention “the top of Google”, I’d mention increased traffic, better conversion rates, and more targeted visitors.

    anyway the key is to be different… and fill a need.. thats what gets links.

  57. David

    Thank you Matt,

    You go to a search engine to find something, the pages that actually tell you something about what you are looking are easy to find. Users that are savy scan the SERPs for those results that have their answer!

    I have an off subject question, so I was wondering when you were going to put up your grab bag post again…so we can add some fuel.

  58. John A Davis

    Yeeha! There is hope for high placement of my combination Rectal Clinic/Deli idea for a business!

  59. Gus Farrah

    Thanks Matt, great article, I would like to see a few more of those, good SEO advice and ideas, straight to the point.

    “And one doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to loose sight of shore” A.G.

  60. Matt, you do realize that the people who have been yelling “It’s all about links” for years will no longer want to be your best friends forever?

    Anywy, it’s a little out of your venue, but I would be interested to know what Google intends for Google Scholar search, which now appears to only return fee-based literature portal listings.

  61. Matt, we’ve been telling people for quite a while that sticking keywords into file names (which on a blog is pretty much automatic) is a wasted effort, since it appears to carry very little weight. It seems you’re saying that it’s worth doing.

    Would you go so far as to say that it’s worth changing file names and redirecting requests for the old URL just to get a keyword or two in there?

  62. You mentioned that you use changing in the title but change in the URL. Have you done any testing to see which Google puts higher preference on? I like to make my title tags the same as the link text, but only because I don’t know any better. Any advice would be very helpful.

  63. It’ll be interesting to see how Google deals with Video Content online and how video content up-loaders tag that video. As video streaming online is becoming more accessible to users, the quality of video content will increase as well, which may begin to shift and balance the content we see online, less text, more video.

    People really don’t read online unless, like Matt pointed out they’re looking for some key information, rather they scan the text in a web site.

    Matt, how’s Google going to stop the abuse of video up-loaders tagging there video with keywords (content) that may or may not be found within their web site, similar to what went on with all the keyword stuffing in the early days of SEO. There were even books by so called experts that advocated keyword stuffing and hidden links/text!

    Google should start their own university to teach all these guidelines into principles. You guys could seriously tap into a whole new market in the higher education industry.

  64. TxRex

    Ryan quote: “anyway the key is to be different… and fill a need.. thats what gets links”

    And if you fill the need…those links will be bookmarks in browsers on computers in front of people who use them to return to your site…

    And if you fill the need really good…those links will be the home page in browsers on computers in front of people who start their internet day by looking at your site…

    This post could have been labeled Google Business Model 101…

    In the early days of Google, the buzz of Google traveled as fast and loud offline in conversations as it did online…Most forget that Google wasn’t built in a day with search engines pointing the way to Google…Google followed the brick and motar way of building a business by creating a service and then marketing to support and sustain it…The niche was the service and the reward was the capital to sustain it…The buzz wasn’t an article or a link…The buzz was a service that filled the need…

    In the old days, farmers would take a long pole and hang a carrot from it. They would hold the carrot in front of the donkey to get the donkey to pull the cart. Farmers needed carrots then. Along came the truck and replaced the cart and donkey. The need disappeared. One farmer decided to teach people different ways to cook and prepare carrots to eat. Another farmer decided to feed his carrots to his live stock that he sold to the people to eat. Each created a new need. The only business that didn’t change was the general store who sold the carrot seeds to the farmers.

    Google is the general store selling advertising which needs articles to display ads to generate revenue to sustain the niche…it only makes sense to teach the SEO’s to write articles (that will get traffic) and create more space for displaying advertisements which will increase revenue…

    Finally…if you can create a post or an article that lights a fire and then allow others to fan the fire…the result is a buzz…

    [.........ummmm...I had way too much fun with this one...LOL...well done Matt ]

  65. [Quote]Ryan Said,
    August 22, 2006 @ 8:48 am

    Peter, the trick isn’t to just write a useful article, it’s to write a useful article that fills a need, or to make a site concept that’s a different twist on something else… that fills a need.[/Quote]

    I am fully aware of these factors.. And these types of articles are great for once somebody has found your website. But don’t think for a minute that these types of articles are going to help you get more popular. Sure they will get you the visitors searching very specific, but still, you´re not going to get a huge backlink increase through these types of articles. They don’t have this purpose.

    I´m interested in articles that do give this reason to link to. Of course Matt is not a marketer so it may not really be in his scope.

    [Quote]Ryan Said,
    August 22, 2006 @ 8:48 am

    If I ran an SEO company I wouldn’t even mention “the top of Google”, I’d mention increased traffic, better conversion rates, and more targeted visitors.[/Quote] :)

    This just makes me smile. You obviously never sold SEO services. Clients love “increased traffic”, “better conversion rates” and “more targeted visitors”,.. sure. But when you sit with them in a meeting room, all they´re really interested in is high rankings.

    And it´s not about educating the client, it´s just that most businesses are already educated and they know that it is about more traffice, better conversion rates and targeted visitors. They´re so educated even that they know that high rankings are responsible for it… :)

    The only thing we generally have to convince them of is that it is not about the high rankings for those couple of most popular keywords, but for all phrases the site can be found for. (which results in those targeted visitors)

    My comment before to Matt was focused more on the type of content that people want to link to because it is so interesting, funny, cool, extreme, etc. etc. I would like to know Matt’s opinion on that type of content. And I am even more curious to some examples.. :)

  66. Sheesh – I thought it was pretty obvious that the repetition of ‘SEO’ was just for emphasis. You guys have been working with SEO for too long ;)

    (I did think while reading it that search engines would possibly think it to be spammy, though.)

  67. Yeeha! There is hope for high placement of my combination Rectal Clinic/Deli idea for a business!

    Anyone else disturbed at the number of places for a sausage in this business model?

  68. So if I write an article about “pill popping porn stars unable to raise conventional mortgage funding turn to the casinos to buy their homes” it wont help me get ranked for ‘search engine optimization” Damm there goes that business model.

    Sadly there are still people out there buying canned articles spewed out by a machine about their “subject” thinking it will help them. I hope anybody who reads your post realizes that SEO is about work and after the last two Google updates Hard Work.

  69. James

    Hey Matt, you could have used the ohrase “SEO” 3 or 4 more times without getting dinged for repetition. :D

  70. Harith

    lbft

    “Sheesh – I thought it was pretty obvious that the repetition of ‘SEO’ was just for emphasis. You guys have been working with SEO for too long”

    Did you mean that Matt is spamming the index?

    Lets do the only right thing; report him to Google WebSpam Team :)

  71. Navneet

    Matt,
    Now are talking more like an SEO rather than Google engineer! Talking about variations and targeting keyowrds etc. I think we SEO’s are going to bring you to the dark side!

    BTW are you trying to rank # 1 for keyowrd “SEO” ? Coz you might know that this can trip the “keyword frequency” + “keyword repitition” filter at Google and you can get black listed and taken out of Google’s Index ;) (I really just wanted to say this to you).

    Dont know if this is the right place to ask question about Adwords bot. Now they say that adwords bot will crawl the page to give a “Quality Score”. Now what happens if my Landing page is Flash or AJAX (yea, its me again!). Do I get bad score since Google adwords bot cannot understand my content? Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask question. BTW any experts here who can answer this, would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks

  72. I’m all for filling a need, but what if I’m not interested in the subject matter? I don’t want to waste time on something I’m not passionate about. For example, I get hits from people asking things like “what is supplemental listings.” I wonder if I should write an article about that. But do I really feel like writing a post about something everybody should already know?

    Plus besides providing a roundabout technical definition, what do I really know about the topic? SEO searches on Google usually lead me to more unanswered questions. I can’t remember the last time I ran a search on Google for any topic search related and came up with a definitive answer.

  73. “Sheesh – I thought it was pretty obvious that the repetition of ‘SEO’ was just for emphasis. You guys have been working with SEO for too long”

    What lbft said. :) It can be a good thing to write in the same way that people speak. Check out this boxed set:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000032HG/102-5466284-3144128?v=glance&n=5174
    That’s some pretty compelling content, and I guarantee not one speaker thought about keyword density. ;)

  74. TxRex

    …ummmm….my niche at last…

    Great Posts and Videos of Matt Cutts 2006 [Boxed Set] – Priceless

    Pre-order yours today and get your free SEO upgrade!

    Disclaimer – Not available every where or any time soon, subject to Mr. Cutts content approval, Google review and your ability to bookmark this page for future reference. Priceless is used as a price and is not used in conjunction or related to any Master Card commercial for copyright purposes.

  75. Hi Matt,

    Most excellent post… this is the stuff I totally chow on.

    Here’s an idea that work like magic for me, and hits all of your keypoints right between the SEO-eyes: Online press releases.

    Why?

    On a service like http://www.PRWeb.com, they’re push-content and rich-content.

    They have H-tags to give correct, organic precedent to Title, Summary and Body. Embedded links, named images, RSS feeds and social media tags. No waiting. Instant response.

    You get immediate feedback on whether your niche will pull (vis statistics and RSS pickups). You drive traffic to a landing page (whatever page you’ve listed on PRWeb’s engine).

    I can create a series of press releases and compose them well, and kill two blogs with one post: my content is both syndicated and appropriate for articles and other rich content applications.

    This is a natural for working bottom-up niche development, and keeping it clean with the Google Housekeeping seal of approval.

    (P.S. I own a very niche business, broken into 20 sub-niches that serve me well. I’m pretty sure we’re on the same page, and much appreciate you expounding on the process).

    Any thoughts on this?

    Best,
    Mark Alan Effinger

  76. Dave (Original)

    I’m astounded the buzz this one from Matt is creating! I would have thought it would come under plain ole common sense, no, correction, IT IS plain ole common sense. Seems like most in SEO World see it as a totally new and and insight into Google.

    Guess it just confirms my thoughts on the SEO industry as a whole.

  77. Geez Matt,

    You had me at SEO! he he.. :)
    Great stuff mate! Keep ‘em coming!

    cheers,
    Armand (from Down Under)

  78. The buzz isn’t so strange. Matt was giving a “lesson” on “how to focus a page on its keywords.”

    SEO isn’t anymore the “know how to properly code your pages” thingy. There is so much more to it now and what´s mostly to it is marketing.

    Now that´s a problem for technical people!!!

    HTML code is direct. It´s either wrong or right. If you have a technical background, you love this. But marketing is neither right or wrong. Something that works great once, doesn’t necessarily work great the next time you use it. Most SEO’s with a more technical background have a really big problem with this. It goes against their nature.

    But the fact is that search engines are getting so good that it´s not that much about very well coded pages anymore. Good code is a requirement now, not the reason for success. The real success in the SERP’s comes from good marketing!

    And what Matt described is also a requirement,.. less technical and more about the focus in a web page, so more reasons to discuss it, but still,… a requirement.

  79. “It can be a good thing to write in the same way that people speak”

    I’m not sure I know how to write in drunken slurs, barely intelligible accents, nor will AdSense perform well with tome heavily doused in expletives.

    [update]

    Never mind, my wife pointed out I write in drunken slurring expletives almost nightly.

  80. “I also tried to think of a few word variations and included them where they made sense (file vs. files, bash and bashrc, Firefox and Mozilla, etc.).”

    thought you might wanna know..

    if you’re trying to vary words in your sentences for firefox and mozilla, dont. instead, make it a phrase; Mozilla Firefox, you can increase your keyword density by 100% on “mozilla” and “firefox” plus you can also add “mozilla firefox” for a keyword.

    dont bother varying for plural and singular terms as your engine see and highlight it on the description as the same. just make sure you encoded both the singular and plural terms on the meta keywords tag.

    funny someone mentioned common sense..

  81. Hi Matt,

    Good write up on seo techniques, finding a niche is a great tactic which I regularly use. I’m sorry but I have an unrelated querie for you :( I recently reported spam through google sitemaps, but nothing seems to be happening to the site I reported, if anything its rankings are improving… The site has an alphabetical list at the bottom of the page and when you click on these it takes you to a keyword stuffed cloned page full of keyword links. Surely this is spam?

  82. Matt – looks like some wordpress blogs, mine included, lost their snippets and have been ranked below my older blog entries at blogger.

    How to fix “canonical blog confusion” would be a nice post by you. (I don’t hink there is a way to use a sitemap at WordPress or Blogger)

  83. Wow! Lessoned learned. Good points in the beginning. But, then it’s apparent you got ‘keyword aware’. From a readers point of view, this entry Matt, was just was not easy to read. You might as well put the ‘or a’ paragraph in white text, since only the die-hard Cutters would read all that. I still have a hard time believing Matt Cutts wrote this. Did someone sneak a look at his wordpress login and is now just having fun with us?

  84. Nice article. Some of this tips I already implemented in my articles before but ther was some things I didn’t even think about so next time I will pay more attention to them when I’m writhing my articles.
    Thanks for great tips.

  85. Dave (Original)

    RE: “SEO isn’t anymore the “know how to properly code your pages” thingy. There is so much more to it now and what´s mostly to it is marketing.”
    ==========================================

    It’s always been a matter of applying common sense after reading and understanding the SE guidelines, still is and likely always will be.

    Of course, there too many unethical SEO “professionals” with vested interests to have this widely known.

    RE: “Good code is a requirement now, not the reason for success”
    =======================================

    “requirement” for what?? Certainly not good SERP position.

  86. >>Or the company that provides metrics and tracking for blogs.

    Is missing ‘SEO’. Let me help you…

    >>Or the SEO company that provides SEO metrics and SEO tracking for SEO blogs.

  87. SEO could be so easy without SEO experts.

  88. >>Matt – looks like some wordpress blogs, mine included, lost their snippets

    That’s because your wordpress pages have meta noindex on them, Joe.

  89. RE coding

    well theres always more than way to do it (tm larry wall) and correct code what do you mean by “correct” – depends what schema your writing to.

    Interesting and keword stuffed post – or was the intent to over do it ?

    I was rather tickeld by the sugestion of SEO for mysql ;-) persoanly i cant see how optimising mysql would help finding someone who knows more than SELECT * from tab_foo might help a site but not in an SEO sense

  90. snd

    deem,
    i had nice message but your deem security code with this veird thing made me enter and it was wrong, please click back and my message deleted!

    deem, lets talk about web forms and usability!

  91. “In general, any time you look for an answer or some information and can’t find it, that should strike you as an opportunity.”

    It’s almost as if a specific tool should exist that tells you where your audience has not been finding their information quickly, and issues those topics as suggestions. Oh yeah, I already did–three months ago.

  92. “well theres always more than way to do it (tm larry wall) and correct code what do you mean by “correct” – depends what schema your writing to.”

    Good question,.. I meant with correct code the use of the right tags that help search engines understand a webpage the way it is presented to a visitor.

  93. Hello Matt,

    This is what most of us do, write about stuff that we had to figure the “hard” way. It’s what I have always been doing. In other words, there are still some of us who are not motivated by money (or the highest paying keywords and topics) — we write because that’s what we’d like to do, about stuff that interest us.

    Now, I have no problems with your suggestion here, but you must allow me to share this story with the rest of your readers.

    May 2006, we published a “how-to” that was useful to a very small group of people (as we normally do). Despite targeting a specific group of people, the article received quite a bit of traffic from the popular search engines (including Google).

    Sometime in July/early August (some 2 months later), some webmaster extracted bits off the article (and some others, meshed them together) and published it to the Net.

    When I searched Google using a unique phrase (off the original article), I was shocked to find the one result I was expecting, but it wasn’t ours anymore!

    If it (Google) returned both I would have understood, but it didn’t. It just returned one (the “duplicate”)!

    If you search Yahoo or MSN for ["Using lspci, the sound card is identified as"], they correctly return the one result (the one off my web site), ignoring the “duplicate”.

    Now, a few weeks later, I search Google (for that unique phrase) and get NOTHING!

    Again, your advice is sound, but you’re not going to convince me that the Google Search Engine is working the way it is supposed to be working, especially in this context: “That tells me that in this small niche, I could utterly rock the search engines.”

  94. I haven’t read all the comments, so I don’t know if anyone has voiced this, but I’m going to pour a little cool water on the post.

    The Title is: SEO Advice: Writing useful articles that readers will love

    That’s ok if the articles are written for existing site topics, although it’s not really a proper seo method (I’ll explain what I mean if asked). But the post described starting new topics in sites, or new sites on new topics, and that’s not seo at all. That’s how to get traffic for something new, and has nothing to do with the sites that people want traffic for – business and hobby sites, for instance.

    The post is great for finding new areas and maybe succeeding in them, but it isn’t what people are wanting to do for their existing sites, which is what most people are concerned with. It’s an excellent post for this blog, but it doesn’t belong in the SEO section ;)

  95. BillyS

    >>BillyS, I wouldn’t worry about that. Lots of people use the same words in title and url. But varying the words might help you show up for a broader variety of terms.

    Thanks for the response on this Matt – saves us the trouble of changing 1,200 titles. I understand your point about varying terms. Good stuff – removes a lot of the myths.

  96. That’s ok if the articles are written for existing site topics, although it’s not really a proper seo method (I’ll explain what I mean if asked). But the post described starting new topics in sites, or new sites on new topics, and that’s not seo at all. That’s how to get traffic for something new, and has nothing to do with the sites that people want traffic for – business and hobby sites, for instance.

    The post is great for finding new areas and maybe succeeding in them, but it isn’t what people are wanting to do for their existing sites, which is what most people are concerned with. It’s an excellent post for this blog, but it doesn’t belong in the SEO section

    Not necessarily true. While the topic may serve as the primary focus of the article, results could be picked up from secondary phrases and words that the owner never even thought of. Not only that, if the topic of the article becomes a popular issue, then the first article out there often gains a certain “authority” status as a result.

    Mind you, the more I think about it, the more I see this as a potentially bad move on Matt’s part (sorry, Matt, but it is and I will explain). The vast majority of article sites and places that publish articles are full of crap, literally; crappy articles about the same stuff with no real useful insight.

    With this article, we’re going to see a whole bunch of “related” articles about how to write an article citing Matt’s blog post, as well as “new and informative” articles that are basically reworded versions of the same crap that’s already out there.

    I’m not talking about an article that gets syndicated among a bunch of sites, either…that’s just the effect of a good article. I’m talking about a series of articles that get distributed by a series of authors about the same damn stuff.

    In other words…I’m hoping someone takes this in the context Matt probably intended (I won’t say for sure because a bunch of you will crawl up my ass claiming I don’t know him and blah blah blah yadda yadda) and write original articles, if any at all.

  97. It didn’t take you guys long to start pounding on the straw men.

    Frankly, with all the misguided SEO tutorials out there right now, what is most needed is more content like this post from Matt. Yes, people will link to it and say, “Here is what a Googler is talking about.”

    Matt isn’t actually saying anything new. He’s just demonstrating that if you know there is a need related to your own interests, you can fulfill that need and write a useful article.

    SEO tutorials inevitably derail all the trains. People are going to knock this one off the track, too. But instead of arguing with Matt, you guys should be taking close note and stopping to think, “Hm. Maybe he’s trying to say something I haven’t been listening to.”

    Looking beyond the SEO myths is difficult, but you can all do it.

  98. How ironic. Everybody teaching the Google guy about keyword stuffing. Now, we are posting about SEO. And, we are actually helping him.

  99. Not necessarily true. While the topic may serve as the primary focus of the article, results could be picked up from secondary phrases and words that the owner never even thought of. Not only that, if the topic of the article becomes a popular issue, then the first article out there often gains a certain “authority” status as a result.

    You are right, Adam. I didn’t try to scotch Matt’s post. I pointed out that the idea doesn’t apply to the sites that people generally want to promote. The idea is about finding new topic areas to capture, but the sites we want to promote are already about existing topic areas, and finding new topics isn’t what we a generally looking to do, so it isn’t seo.

    For instance, you are in website design, and the average website designer wants to seo his/her website design site/business. (S)he doesn’t want to start promoting something completely different, just because an opening has been spotted.

    It’s an excellent post about acquiring traffic (and possibly business) in areas that we are not currently involved in, so it’s a ‘business’ post and not an seo post. That’s the point I was making. It’s nothing to do with seo.

  100. I agree with those who talked about this being commonsense. It is. It says something about today’s SEO’s quick-fix, hammer-and-tongs strategies that Matt has to write a post explaining it all again. Pretty much what Brett has talked about in WW years back – but I guess there are some who will get it only if it comes from a Googler.

  101. (IMO) A bulleted list can work much better for readability on the internet than a contextual list contained in a long paragraph . It can help provide information at a glance without making the user read a long paragraph.

    You could be the SEO that does:
    • Industry Interviews
    • Transcribes Matt’s videos
    • Makes funny lists
    • Provides webmaster radio
    • Makes podcasting easy
    • Etc…

    If you want to use the word “SEO” as a descriptive modifier for each item in the list for on-the-page keyword optimization purposes, it’s usually better to use a contextual list, otherwise the bulleted list could look repetitive & redundant.

    You could be the:
    • SEO that does interviews
    • SEO that transcribes Matt’s videos
    • SEO that makes funny lists
    • SEO company that provides webmaster radio
    • SEO that makes podcasting easy
    • Etc…

  102. JLH

    Speaking of SEO do a google search for” five seo excuses ” (no quotes)

    http://www.google.com/search?q=five+seo+excuses

    Someone did a great job there, results 1 through 5, in order and the subdomains when read are a nice little sentance. Did they do that with on-page factors or off page gaming? I’ll leave it to you experts to figure it out.

  103. Good post Matt. I have been coming to the same conclusion that you have recently; do a search for something you believe your target user would type in and if there is nothing which fits the bill, get writing! I have lots of small, long tail, questions/articles which I think would rank highly and get attention, the only problem is finding time! It takes a good few hours to create fresh, new content which is SEO’d (not too much;), reads well and is spell checked. Better hop to it!…

  104. Designing content that ranks well in a search engine is ALWAYS about search engine optimization. Matt’s post is spot on.

    We need more examples like this, Matt. You have a long, hard battle ahead of you.

  105. Thx halfdeck and sorry Matt for OT posting.
    was my problem, though it got there mysteriously.

  106. >>An infinite number of niches are waiting for someone to claim them.

  107. Dave (Original)

    RE: “That’s ok if the articles are written for existing site topics, although it’s not really a proper seo method (I’ll explain what I mean if asked). But the post described starting new topics in sites, or new sites on new topics, and that’s not seo at all.”
    ==========================================

    Again, common sense SHOULD dictate that IF you write content (which you DO know about) for humans and not SEs you will be creating content that Google gives a high score to. So, in that way, it most certainly is SEO and about one of the best ways!

    As I have said, every aspect of good safe long term SEO comes about from reading/understanding the SE guidlines then simply applying common sense. However, many in the SEO industry have too much of a vested interest to have this known and would rather the general population sees SEO as rocket science. That way, they can justify their high fees.

  108. Maybe if we all just wrote articles and did interviews like this guy does them:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrLTJP6n8AI&mode=related&search=

    JAGSHEMASH!

  109. You seem to be missing my point Dave. A hardware store has a business website. That’s the site that needs seo, so that the business can improve. It’s not seo to tell the owner to create another site about something completely different, just because an opening has been spotted.

    So the hardware store owner also wants to know about changing a printer in Linux, but he can’t find the information, and decides to create website about it – and he “rocks the engines”. Then what? Where’s the increased business? Where’s the money? What’s that got to do with seo for his business?

    Matt’s post has nothing to do with seo. It’s about getting traffic for the sake of getting traffic – perhaps for AdSense clicks – but it’s not seo.

  110. This is an awesome post!!!

    I would like to make emphasis on the following phrases:

    “If you write 2000 words about mortgage loans and never discuss the industry landscape or impart some useful, concrete knowledge to your reader, that should set off a warning flag in your head.”

    Definitely we need to write something that helps others. This way we will attract people and keep them as long as we continue helping them. I am tired of books or articles about “How To” when they actually talk about “What Is”, so they are more definitions-based than steps-based documents. People need answers. As you said “If you become known as an expert . . .you could build that out with things like forums to create even more useful content”

    We must love what we write about to become an expert. I do not imagine someone being an expert without enjoying what she/he is doing.

    “In general, any time you look for an answer or some information and can’t find it, that should strike you as an opportunity”

    This is the fuel that makes me write articles. There may be somebody else looking for the same information. There are millions of people using Internet; even a small niche could be a huge number of them

    And, I think the best advice we can get from this post is:

    “use this advice only for good (high-quality articles), not for evil”

  111. Excellent post! Thanks for this great resource!

  112. A hardware store site would provide great opportunity for writing many “how to” articles to help visitors and potential customers, thus exanding the site’s visibility and appeal. What Matt proposes would be a great approach for a hardware store site to pursue.

    It doesn’t take a creative marketing genius to see that establishing your credentials with surfers involves giving them a lot of useful, relevant information.

  113. Navneet

    Matt,
    You are on top of second page of Google for “SEO”, and its this post!

    http://www.google.com/search?q=SEO&hl=en&lr=&start=10&sa=N

    Good article anyways. Thanks

  114. Yes it’s an excellent article.

    Actually, I noticed on my blog since a while that the keyword density was not “so important”, and that visitors find my blog with phrases like:

    “Everything you need to know about….”

    I like that.

  115. JLH

    Three days and on the top of page 2, NICE!

    Hopefully we can expect a blog on the top Five SEO Excuses soon from you!

  116. Blazes

    For those not knowing where to start, consider questions your users ask. There’s usually 1 or 2 good topics in every question to write about.

  117. A hardware store site would provide great opportunity for writing many “how to” articles to help visitors and potential customers, thus exanding the site’s visibility and appeal. What Matt proposes would be a great approach for a hardware store site to pursue.

    Yes it would in that case, but that’s not the point I was making.

  118. Dave (Original)

    RE: “It’s not seo to tell the owner to create another site about something completely different, just because an opening has been spotted”

    It is if the page(s) (not site) is written in the manner Matt descibes. Sure, it may not be on topic to their hardware store, or perhaps makes zero extra dollars. So what?

  119. Hi Matt,

    Good post and very good advice. I also advocate to start small and grow big.

    But I have a question. You are writing quality unique content in your blog (IMHO) then why are your blog posts going in the supplemental index??

    http://www.google.com/search?q=site:www.mattcutts.com&num=100&hl=en&lr=&filter=0

  120. Simply amazing… Number 3 in google after ‘seo’…woof…

  121. PhilC is a very technical SEO that focuses almost entirely on getting an existing page higher up in the SERP’s. Hence his opinion about the post Matt made. From his point of view he is right, but running a business (website) is more than just focusing on the SEO for existing pages.

    Marketing a website, increasing its value for visitors (and thus for the search engines) is also important and you can argue about whether or not that is SEO. In any way, it is good practice to do increase the value of your website… :)

  122. Navneet

    And Yes Matt, I agree with you! Probably some of us have been doing this SEO thing for too long, sos much so we see everything in terms of ranking and keyword relevancy/frequency!

  123. so, you are saying that a keyword in URL still carries som weight?

    thank you.

  124. I’ve got a question related to content and I am not sure where to look for your grab-bags that you mention so I am going to try and through it in here since it relates to content…..

    Q – If a local utility company posts a press release about something happening in the community on their website and then they forward it to me, a local newspaper website, should I be worried about posting this same content on my site from a duplicate content prospective…?

    Now this would be useful content that my readers would love, but where do you draw the line on duplicate content from press releases vs a page scaped for content or made for adsence pages? How would Google differentiate the two? Would there be a penalty applied to the weaker or less authoritive site when it comes to syndicated content?

  125. Dave (Original)

    RE: “PhilC is a very technical SEO that focuses almost entirely on getting an existing page higher up in the SERP’s. Hence his opinion about the post Matt made.”
    ==========================================

    That doesn’t add up and is not what PhilC has used as *his* argument.

    Me thinks you are putting words in his mouth.

  126. PhilC is a very technical SEO that focuses almost entirely on getting an existing page higher up in the SERP’s.

    That may be the greatest euphemism for blackhat I’ve ever heard. That is brilliant!

    I am truly impressed, Peter.

  127. I’m the SEO that specializes in a certain content management system. (or almost I would like to be that kind of SEO).

    My favourite CMS is phpBB XS, because it has integrated 3 different Feeds, you can Add easily AutoLinks, and much more :D

    I think that this CMS is giving me very good optimization :D

  128. Wit

    [quote]…why are your blog posts going in the supplemental index??[/quote]

    Probably because all these pages have the exact same title (for starters) and that looks a bit spammy :) (Just guessing here)

  129. Dave (Original)

    RE: “That may be the greatest euphemism for blackhat I’ve ever heard. That is brilliant!

    I am truly impressed, Peter.
    =====================================

    LOL! It most certainly is. BUT, don’t forget that PhilC only uses blackhat methods when whitehat methods don’t work. In his own eyes that makes him a whitehat, go figure!

  130. Ray

    I have only recently come across Matt’s blogs but in many of the things i have read so far, things kind of don’t add up when i see the actual results that users get on searches. It’s one thing to give out information about the technical side of things, (and i think i’m a fairly accomplished programmer if i may say so myself).. but it is quite another to very broadly generalize what the intentions are. I mean, from a pure programming logic point of view, many of the things that are discussed in these blogs about how the bot software and crawl and index works, it is almost an impossible feat. Because google for its size still has to rely on the boundaries of logic. A simple case in point: duplicate content. Unless a human is looking at every thing, a ‘somewhat’ similar content is just almost impossible to catch by any programming logic. I do not think google hires magic programmers. As an example, if you were to take any article on the net and change the order of paragraphs, while it is still duplicate, the programmers cannot easily identify each and every paragraph order for every site. I am not discussing black hat or whatever else kamikaze seo tactics, i just am always bewildered as to what boundaries of programming logic are pushed when some of things discussed on this blog are put into practice.

    Skeptic on the net
    Ray

  131. We are about to launch a “Do It Yourself” SEO service called “SoloSEO”, falling into the line of our own little SEO niche. So hopefully we will be the “SEO for Do-It-Yourself-ers”. We see a need for the Do-it-yourself self-learning small-business owner type that has little to spend on marketing, but can afford putting in some time for it. We will have tools and reports to help you SEO, and a “to do list” style of walking through our subscribers through the process. We’re pretty excited about it! We just made a cool tool, a site-wide keyword cloud that parses an XML Sitemaps page and makes a keyword cloud using all the words from your website.

    Thanks for all the time and effort you put into this blog!

  132. Am I the “transcribes Matt’s videos” SEO?!? I’d rather be the “SEO who’s Matt Cutts’ BFF”, but that’s just my personal opinion.

  133. Hi Matt,

    I just noticed that you don’t use meta description and keywords tags for your blog. Any particular reasons for this? Mind to share us your knowledge about SEO and meta tags?

  134. And Matt rockets to page one in the search for “SEO”

  135. Thanks Matt,

    I find every niche has some unfulfilled wants and needs, hence the content should be written aiming to those needs by giving a solution that fulfill the gap and thus it can enhance the utility and value of the content and that will be useful to the readers and possibly search engine will like that.

  136. Erm shouldn’t all those SEOs have been linked to the actual people? ;-)

  137. Maria

    Hello,

    I know something that does not seem easy to find, and it happens to be about niche contents. I woud really appreciate if you could enhance your blog popularity by explaining this :)
    I wonder, if a page scores high with Google for, say, “lively pets,” will it help another page on the same site to score for “cockroaches”? I mean, how related the terms must be to “help” each other? Or, to put it in more general terms, how does Google categorize content?

    Thank you!
    Maria

  138. Marc Peterson

    Hi

    Everyone please let me know if i am heading in the right direction, started with reciprocal links exchange and then one way link, have submitted to many directories.

    Now have also started posting in various blogs and also am a moderator for a blog.

    Also sometimes use peeking, i hope its the right way to go about it. PLease advice me if there is any more ways to be a good SEO guru.

  139. Marc Peterson said

    > PLease advice me if there is any more ways to be a good SEO guru

    hi Marc,

    the way to become a search engine guru is to forget about the search engines for a while and develop your site content for the benefit of your visitors

    of course there’s a few common sense guidelines, such as avoiding frames and flash and any other clever stuff if possible ,and having relevant page titles, original text and simple effective navigation etc

    but the most important thing is create a high quality site — and if it doesn’t get highly ranked by the search engines and you’re not doing anything to annoy or confuse them, then that’s their problem, not yours — have faith, they’ll sort it out sooner or later — providing their visitors with good search results is what they specialise in :)

    PS i avoid reciprocal linking — it doesn’t benefit my visitors

    PPS most of the traffic to a successful site comes from repeat visitors

    remember, the reason behind Google’s rise to prominence isn’t because it wanted to become the biggest or most popular or most profitable search engine — it’s because it wanted to be the _best_ search engine — ah, those were the days :)

    it’s less about what the net can do for you as what you can do for the net :)

    Weed

  140. Looks like Matt’s linux printer article is #1 on Google for “change default printer linux”…

    http://www.google.com/search?q=change+default+printer+linux&start=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official

    A few of us fixated on this post being keyword stuffed, but the “test” page is the linux page; this page I think Matt wrote up just to emphasize a point about contributing useful pages to the web.

  141. Bob Mutch

    Fix the title tag Matt and put your aritle title first.

  142. Well what the most important thing is that article writting gives you lot of free and one way links which help you in rankings. Isn’t it?

  143. Thanks for a great post Matt!

  144. “Or the SEO that transcribes Matt’s videos.”
    Thanks for the idea. I’ve started doing the transcriptions and posting them here:
    http://www.petertdavis.net/category/video-transcriptions/
    Let me know if I’ve made any errors! :)

  145. Targeting a niche on article writing means that your readers will be aware that you are able to provide the sort of information they are looking for. Also, if you write articles about your particular niche, those articles will help to set you up as an industry expert.

  146. I’m wondering if blogs will one day lose their effectiveness due to the growing problem of blog spam. If this is the case, maybe I should start adding new content to regular static pages instead of my blog.

  147. “PS i avoid reciprocal linking — it doesn’t benefit my visitors”

    Weed, I have to politely disagree. Reciprocal links can benefit your visitors if they are related sites within your niche.

    “PPS most of the traffic to a successful site comes from repeat visitors”

    It depends on the product you are selling. Low-cost impulse buy products often sell successfully to first-time visitors.

  148. I believe that one of the hidden ranking algoritms of Google is number of clicks on SER.

    So if an you a good content its normal to get more visitors through word of mouth and returning visitors.

    Perhaps your recommendation is the best SEO trick.

  149. While keeping things simply, nobody needs in blog engines like WordPress to publish him articles about installing printers, paint red eyes etc. And to buy hosting for static site without PHP & MySQL is more cheap! Maybe I want to start new site about some computer tips & tricks, but I don’t want to admin SQL server and PHP.

    About the original post: it’s very good advice for professionals (but not SEO professionals) who want to promote own vision of things to Internet. Don’t think about Univerce, better describe what You really know how to do.

    Forgive me my bad English, as well.

  150. Let me see…

    After years of “new amazing software”, secrets of SEO, keyword tactics, how to get to the top, meta tags, titles, seminars and courses ad finitum being schlogged to the hilt and making so many “gurus” fabulously wealthy…

    … we’ve finally come back to simply being real and natural. No stuffing, no tactics, no special software… just be conversational and write normally.

    Now whodathunkit?

    Good post Matt. Could have been written 10 years agao and been just as appropriate… and saved me a ton of money. :-)

  151. I like to think of Good SEO as internet marketing merged with technology and focused on search. As in any bit of marketing, if you want to sell a product you should divide your time up or resources up accordingly for maximum benefit. While many people talk about the demize of SEO, they’re using a bad definition for the term. Use the SEO definition I gabe above and you’ll soon figure out that it’ll never go away. It’s a lot of hard work, someone has to promote your idea / company / work. It can be you, but your time is also money so you’re spending “tons of money” anyways.

    I agree that most of the seminars, tactics and “SEO voodoo speak” is bull shit, but regardless of how much you wish “spin”, promotion, pitching, and other form of internet marketng didn’t work – they do. Blogs and individual publishing have made the spread of information happen much faster then ever before, giving even more of a need now then ever for agressive SEO that can take advatage of new technologies for both their client and users gain. Balance both, obey the rules enough to not get banned and work harder then your competition and you’ll dominate in the SERPS.

    Any good link is a link you “earn”. You earn these links by pitching a buzz message through the use of technology and massive publishing with content created for specfic demographics. AHH.. too many buzz words. anyways nice post, kinda wordy though.

  152. Fred said – “Reciprocal links can benefit your visitors if they are related sites within your niche.”

    sorry, i don’t see it… if i have a link to a site, how does it benefit my visitors if the other site has a link back to me? :)

  153. WOW! Some of the best SEO advice I’ve ever read. Question for the group:

    When we are writing articles about a specific niche on a website, should all the content be related to this niche or can it be about completely unrelated topics where gaps in quality content exist on the Internet.

    For example, if a section of our website was dedicated to informational articles, and we wrote about SEO for ecommerce, should all the articles be relate to ecommerce, or if we identified other niches where articles didn’t exist, and our website could probably rank highly if we wrote a high quality article, should we write informational articles about other topics.

    Would 15 informational articles about one niche (SEO for commerce) or would 15 informational articles about SEO for Ecommerce, mobile application development project management, SEO for PHP Content Management Systems, best practices for newsletter layouts, SEO for MySpace, widest distribution of press releases.

    So in a nutshell, if a section of our website wrote about 1 niche with 15 informational articles or if each informational article was written about a different underserved niche, which would be preferable? It seems that many articles on one topic would dominate, but many scattered articles might bring more traffic, due to more searches, but it seems have random topics for our articles might confuse a search engine because there is no overall theme to all the articles.

    Thanks for the insightful assistance in advance!

    When these niches are found where relevent content doesn’t exist

  154. That paragraph did leave me puzzled. It did seem to cross the line of a safe key word density. I didn’t even like the paragraph from a readbility standpoint.

  155. Hi,

    Finding this blog has been one of the better things that I have done. To in essence be reassured that the steps I am taking with seo are all in the right direction is valuable indeed.

    Comment & opinion from the “horses mouth” is like gold dust in a sea of myth, hype & supposition. In actuality all we need to do is present Google with authoritative sites filled with useful fresh content & as the old saying goes cream will rise.

    It is also eye opening to get some insite into the minds of some of the more proficient seo’s out there and to be able to read their thoughts on best practice, the future of optimization etc

  156. Writing effective articles have helped my rankings, but placing them on my blog is great for regular customers as well. Thanks Matt for keeping us updated on how to write quality for articles and copy writing for our webpages!

  157. I have taken this article writing long ago. About 2 years at least when I had just 2 years experience in SEO. I started with Goarticles.com

    But now I am not seeing to much good results on article posting.

  158. The other great thing about articles is that once written, you can convert them into other mediums. Most articles would convert very well to a podcast or video.

    Software like Camtasia and it’s equivalents make it pretty easy to record a PowerPoint slide with narration.

    I notice that Google seems to pick up videos very quickly and if your title is niche enough, you can get excellent results in a day or two.

  159. I’ve submitted articles to hundreds of different directories and whenever I do I set up a Google alert for the title of those articles. The thing that I notice is that there’s about 20 directories that always get picked up by Google whereas many do not, especially the newer Article Dashboard powered sites

    Is it just me, or does the 80/20 rule also apply to article sites?

  160. Matt, I couldn’t agree with you more. Anybody who says things like “don’t give me any crap about good content” is fooling themselves. They obviously weren’t around when “content is king” was a buzz phrase.

    As an SEO copywriter by trade, I know first hand that it doesn’t take that much effort coming up with good content that is not only keyword optimized, but is good reading as well.

    People come to your website for various reasons, but they always have one thing in common: they’re looking for something. Whether that’s information, entertainment or a product, they’re going to leave if you don’t give it to them in a straightforward way. People don’t like to read things that were written for search engines.

  161. Patrick Blasone

    Hi Matt

    Google’s emphasis on keyword density is problematic to say at least.

    I run a site that’s the largest on its subject in my country. It ranks top or near top on most general terms relating to the subject and has long informative articles on these terms.

    The problem is, that during the last year several sites that I would categorize as “Google spammers” has emerged with content on my subject, and they continue to go up in rankings on Google.

    The sites are cleverly designed using every white hat seo guideline there is in regards to the overall structure and html tags. On each keyword they feature a SHORT article containing very basic information on the subject. The articles are of course stuffed with the specific keyword, so reading them is almost like reading smurf language: “What is great about keyword is that you can keyword the keyword … ” and so on. The article being so short, it easily reaches the 4-7 % recommended in the SEO world.

    Besides having these meaningless articles the sites are of course stuffed with matching AdSense, and that’s how they make money.

    This is a problem, because in all modesty my articles are more relevant than theirs on this subject. But my articles are much longer, and they include sections where you just can’t repeat the keyword over and over again without it sounding unnatural when you read it.

    So my point is – Google should really improve on its ability to value articles based on their keyword density. It can’t be right that everyone can put up an ultra short article on something that will beat the long thorough article in ranking. Maybe 4 % is a much too high density for a keyword in a naturally written text?

    No matter how you look at the algorithm itself, fact is that less relevant sites are being ranked better than relevant ones – and it doesn’t seem that they’ve had a very hard time accomplishing this.

  162. Good post!

    I am glad to see the SEO keyword getting repeated frequently in the post for several times, I assume that the search for those sentences will end-up in this post in some time.

    I got my finger burnt on a specific post which is the number of keyphrases used by unique visitors for my website, that had “pagerank” keyword closely packed and repeated several times. Changed some of them to images later and kept one which still haunts the site :)

    Regards,
    Shiva

  163. Matt,
    This article continues to be highly relevant – So many websites are written so badly, yet the problem persists.

    I see sites that go on and on about how great they are as a business – without ever addressing their prospective clients’ issues. And, keyword stuffing in content simply for potential search engine optimization continues to be a problem.

    Your example article is terrific – it shows that addressing niche market issues can be effective without a ton of hype.

    Scott

  164. Hello Matt,

    very good article on finding a good niche that works. i usually use keyword pyramid to find mine going to a very specific keywords to broad.

  165. Great article Matt. There are so many way in which SEO can influence the development of the internet.

  166. Wonderful advice. Even now, it seems that too many of the link-building url-keywording SEO community too often forgets the simple core basics of the business.

  167. Great article I had no idea that google filtered out redundant information. I’m glad to know that accurate information is going to be more accurately indexed then word pages.

  168. janmarie

    You left me cold. I wanted to understand how a link in an article improved my optimization….all this jargon had me turning off

  169. Top post. But I didn’t see the one BIG tip I was expecting, which would be to go for a niche or long tail phrase associated with a highly popular keyword. Prefixing with interrogatives like ‘how to..’, ‘find your..’ and ‘find a…’ works a treat, but for best results go for the really big key phrases afterwards. Niches are good things to carve out, but get on the tail end of the most potent key phrases you can and you always do much better.

    I’ve done this for many web pages and with plenty of good content they’ve all performed well – one web page brings in 2500 unique visitors a month with no real link building.

    Updating content is also really helpful these days. If you change your content regularly then you can really play with the big boys without even worrying too much about boxing at their weight. Fresh content is one of the biggest, least work intensive and least costly SEO strategies going. On the other hand if you just put up your web pages and leave them as they are ad inifinitum then you’re really just leaving them to rot or having to prop them up with a ridiculous amount of inbound links.

  170. Does Google care much about grammar or punctuation? I’ve seen a lot of auto-content generated sites with nice keyword rations, but shocking grammar. I guess it would be quite a programming challenge to expect that sort of detail and assign a grammar score?

  171. Thank you so much for sharing the useful information and tips for article writing, I really like it and looking forward to read more on this topic.

    Alex

  172. You can’t rely on detecting bad grammar. Too many websites use snippets and other types content chunks as teasers. Plus, linearizing HTMl tables won’t get you grammar-wise coherent stuff. And what about tags? Those are just a bunch of words. and how many people correctly sets and xml lang attribute or HTML language attribute so you can identify language/locale?

  173. I find a lot of first time article writers write 2000 word ads rather than giving useful information. By giving useful and actionable information you build trust and credibility.

    And it pays not to be too precious with your “intellectual property”.

    Which girl gets the most attention on the beach?

    The one that has 95% of her body uncovered :) We all wondering about that other 5%

  174. Good content makes the Web worth reading! If I visit a website with crap content (but targeted keywords) I’m not going to buy products or services there. Writing for consumers shows you care about your customers, not just traffic!

  175. Jag

    Matt very true, good articles for readers and spiders :) acts as a pillar for SEO work ;)

  176. Great post on SEO writing advice Matt. I particularly found the 5th paragraph interesting. “SEO” is mentioned 23 times in that single paragraph. I hope you don’t mind, I added a link to this post on the Content Writing Advice page of my site as a resource to readers that would like to learn more about this topic. Google Rocks!

  177. Love this. And so true. Too many companies (and individuals for that matter) are trying to be too much at once, thinking they can conquer “this part of the market”, “for these people” and “those people” and “this group too”!

    Businesses are forgetting the golden rule to stay focused. Trying to encapsulate the whole thing all at once has you doomed towards failure. A smaller focus will likely get you the whole kit and kaboodle in the long run. Baby steps…

  178. I can see this page ranking in the first pages of Google for SEO in the next week or so with the keyword density that you have used Matt.

    Good example. I am a massive believer in writing for your potential customer, especially in articles, as they are just another form of press release and directory posting rolled in one.

    Until next time,

    Ben.

  179. I always consider it important to check your article for keyword density. A keyword density of 2 or 3 percent is the usual recommendation. Definitely a maximum of five percent. EzineArticles have a maximum keyword density of one percent.

  180. Matt, first of all how many frickin’ comments are on here!? It took me about a minute-and-a-half just to Page Down all the way to the bottom.

    Anyway, great article from the guru of SEO himself. I actually just used the URL/title slightly different trick on a post on my blog. It’s a Blogger blog and I wanted to target both “service” and “services”, so I published it with the plural in the title and URL, and then went into Edit and changed the title back to singular. Just a little tip for anyone trying to use Matt’s trick on a Blogspot blog, where you can’t directly alter the URL.

  181. Matt, you wrote this post in 2006 and this is now 2009. And readers are still there… I’m one of them. I don’t think there is anything left to comment upon. This was a really wonderful, informative, brilliant post!!! As you have said, I got some ideas … I’ll be trying to concentrate on smaller niches rather going for my final target !!

    Cheers :)

  182. I agree with digital pointing while I feel obliged to say that no matter how many new search engines appear and try to draw attention, as far as the focus is on creating valuable content like how it’s been defined at this post, we’ll be Ok.
    People seek for what they need online to find and read. Content must appeal to them first. If this happens, search engines will approve such content and boost its ranking!

  183. I completely agree, good content will drive good SEO.
    The advice I have for my clients who are bloggers is use fewer, but more targeted keywords in your titles and wordpress entries. I enjoyed your article, but I really enjoyed the good comments underneath as well. I’m glad I found your blog and intend to link to your article so that others may find it easily.

    Chuck House
    Core Data Recovery.

  184. It is a great article, and I actually believe the use of Google Insights is a great tool to grab on-to those niches you speak of. On our blog we simply write about the things we love which usually is technology. It is remarkable the amount of traffic we produce simply by creating blog articles. We to started with a niche, technology.

    I enjoyed the article and ironically I found it on Google searching the key-phrases : SEO Content Writing
    :) shows that it works.

  185. Matt is correct. Even very specialized topics can yield lots of traffic. On one of my blogs I wrote a short article on how to install Ubuntu Linux on an old model Toshiba laptop. it gets about 5 unique visitors each and every day. Amazing.

  186. Thanks for the useful article but i also like to know that Is keyword stuffing necessary to the content and if not then what else we can do for that. If anyone don’t have that much content then what he can follow. Hope i get good answer of that.

  187. Thanks Matt for this useful and informative post. I am also agreed with you that quality content is too important in SEO. I am really like your post and comments as well.

  188. indianGuy

    Its all great discussing articles. Matts Advice, as usual, is second to none. My question is, whats effective task you can do with the article, once it has been written? I know the generic answer is “submit is to places like goarticles.com” etc, however I’d like a more specific response, ideally from Matt himself as I’m sure its possible to do a lot more than simply submit and forget.

  189. If you don’t have good content, your visitors will leave. If you picked up a magazine at the barber shop and started scanning for something to read, you would look for something interesting by the headlines… Once an article is found and you start to read it, if it bores you, what do you do? Skip over it and find something else…. That is logically what bad content will do to your site. Either hold their attention or they will leave… Thanks for the post Matt….

  190. I have been writing all of my personal articles without even thinking about keyword density and seem to almost always get it right anyway when I write the article in a natural manner for the reader.

  191. I have found mostly that, those long-tailed keywords that have little competition or even entire niches that appear to leave room for dominance, also have very few people actually using the keywords or having an interest in the niche.

    I say ‘mostly’ because occassionally you will come across a genuine opportunity, and if I compete against nobody in 19 niches in order to dominate just one, then that is time well spent for me.

    Matt is therefore correct (he isn’t always – nobody is) in my view, and his approach mirrors mine although is far better expressed and likely far better executed.

    Pete

  192. Very clever article and extremely well written. The number one keyword here is “SEO”. It’s in the URL, it’s in both titles, heck it’s in the 6th paragraph 23 times – lol – nice…

  193. An acticle that was written in 2006 and pretty much relevant in today’s 2011 SEO context.

    From the SEO prospective, while a quality article will get you backlinks or “votes” from other webmasters, the truth I found from experience is that such success really depends on your industry or topic that you are writing about.

    For example, if you are in the digital media / finance industy and have good insights to share, you will probably earn more incoming links naturally as a result of your strong and good quality information.

    On the other hand, if you are in a industry whereby the target audience are not so technologically savvy, you will find links hard to get. (For example, imagine yourself in the knitting / elderly care niche.)

    Point being, if your target audience are more techologically savvy, (know how to blog, “like you” on Facebook etc) this probably works better. Links are ultimately created by people who knows how to create a link in the first place.

    Not saying that we should not add value (quality) to the world wide web. Just that certain industrys require you to work slightly harder to get those links. And if you are in one of those nichces, basic seo activities also tend to reward you with better results.

  194. Link Building… Time-intensive. Frustrating. Sometimes confusing. Yet Unavoidable. Because ultimately, it’s still the trump card for higher rankings.

  195. Great article.

    Adding my two cents. I feel that I get more results when I provide valuable feedback that includes my personal insight and perspective. I know of quite a few SEO’s that go around looking for website to get link backs from (and I used to do this myself). The problem is that often times they comment with simple phrases like (above) great article or thanks for the advice without adding anything that would be of real value to the readers.

    So with that said I would like to share my thoughts. Definitely seek out places to get your link backs and “advertise” yourself and/or your website, but do so with some integrity and share your own personal experiences. You will not only help contribute valuable content that website owners and readers will appreciate but you will also increase the chances that someone might want to visit your website and read more about what you have to say.

    Anywho… nice site

  196. “What you cannot find, is an opportunity”, as many here, I agree. I just started a blog for my web design company, and I started doing exactly the same. After searching for solutions to programming problems and couldn’t find, I started posting articles with the solutions and it has been worked well, now my website ranks well on words like websites, web programming, web design, etc.

  197. Providing information to engage, connect is simple if you think what do I know something about that I can contribute, blog post about. Fresh helpful content never goes out of style. And the old thought that its all about the largest audience forgets that total impressions are less important than quality ones in the target audience, the segment you want, need to tap on the shoulder. Writing the slang of the buyer, in terms they search to spotlight the content is a sport, talent to hone and sharpen.

  198. Large chunks of text like that are really not much fun to read Matt. Not the best Seo from yourself

  199. After searching for solutions to programming problems and couldn’t find, I started posting articles with the solutions and it has been worked well, now my website ranks well on words like websites, web programming, web design, etc.

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