Whitehat SEO tips for bloggers

Okay, I’ve got a bunch of pointers to summarize my WordCamp 2007 talk.

First off, here’s the PowerPoint deck that I presented. Google’s PR team was kind enough to verify that it was okay to release. I made the slides from scratch (not even a Google template), so there shouldn’t be any problems with notes in the slides or other metadata. Also note that I made this entire presentation the day of the conference, so let me know if there are unclear parts.

“But Matt, some of that talk is just bullet points! Where’s the context?” you might comment. Ah, I’m glad you mentioned that. John Pozadzides attended WordCamp and taped the talks, and he recently put up a video of the talk.

“But Matt, I don’t have an hour to spare to watch the video!” you might comment. Ah, I’m glad that you mentioned that. David Klein was at WordCamp, and he transcribed the talk into text form.

“But Matt, that transcript has a lot of words. It could take me 20-30 minutes to read all that!” you might comment. Well, I’ve already pointed to Stephanie Booth’s write-up of the session. You could also read the summary that Lisa Barone wrote. Or check out Stephan Spencer’s coverage for CNET.

Now you understand why I blogged about Alex Chiu a while ago; I used him as an example in my talk, so I wanted to explain what those two urls in my PowerPoint meant.

If you read Stephan Spencer’s write-up, he says some people thought that underscores are the same as dashes to Google now, and I didn’t quite say that in the talk. I said that we had someone looking at that now. So I wouldn’t consider it a completely done deal at this point. But note that I also said if you’d already made your site with underscores, it probably wasn’t worth trying to migrate all your urls over to dashes. If you’re starting fresh, I’d still pick dashes.

I also wanted to point out something I’m pretty proud of. If you were at the site review session at Pubcon last year in Vegas, you might remember that there was a chiropractor who wanted to do well for the query [san diego chiropractor]. At the time, Danny Sullivan teased him a bit and said “Well, you might want to put the words ‘San Diego Chiropractor’ together on the page that you want to rank.”

Well Danny, that site owner was David Klein and he took all the PubCon advice from the panel to heart. He started a blog, tweaked the copy on his site, and has even started to learn great linkbaiting techniques. For one thing, he transcribed the video of my talk, which traded some effort on his part to create a useful resource. Even better, he came to WordCamp with a creative idea, a pad of paper, and a digital camera. As he met folks at WordCamp, he had each person write their name, their website, and something that they wanted to do. Then he created an original cartoon of that person doing that thing. Go to the post with Matt Mullenweg and click on the picture of Matt to see what I mean. Matt said he wanted to be a writer, so David posted a cartoon of Matt as a writer.

How is this smart? People love to talk about themselves, and love to see themselves in the spotlight. So these little cartoons are natural linkbait: “Hey look, he drew me as a Photoshop plug-in developer!” How much did it cost to do this particular idea? Practically nothing: just the initial creative brainstorming and a little bit of elbow grease.

It was neat to see a regular site owner go from not knowing much about SEO in November 2006 to really improving his traffic with some creativity and straightforward changes. A good SEO can tune up your web site. But if someone is willing to take the time to study SEO, look for fresh ideas, and put in some effort, a regular person can definitely improve their website (and rankings!) as well. To see that come true with a chiropractor that several of us gave feedback to just last year was really exciting. That’s one of the big things that has stayed with me from WordCamp.

Update: Clarifying that Stephan’s write-up didn’t say that dashes and underscores were the same. Thanks, Stephan!

178 Responses to Whitehat SEO tips for bloggers (Leave a comment)

  1. Harith

    Matt

    Great post! next post maybe SEO tips for large news sites :-)

    However, when would you start using only “SEO” instead “Whitehat SEO”?

    You see there is either “SEO” or “Spam” :-)

  2. Great post!
    very interesting read.
    i have a lot of work and learning to do.
    Thanks, Matt.

  3. The notepad idea was pretty cool. I would have requested they write their names down too but thats probably cause I forget names so easily.

    On a separate note, Are you feeling any better Matt?

  4. I think you meant to link to the cartoon at http://www.bodyabcs.com/bwp/2007/07/the-plug-in-master/ not the photograph. Unless you’re demonstrating a way to get people like me to add yet another link to the guy’s website.

  5. Any direct downloadable video available Matt ?

  6. Thanks for the slides Matt.
    Best,
    Mani

  7. Butt Matt, I’ve devoured all of the video and transcripts and want more!

    It’s REALLY nice to see so much creativity in blogging circles recently, and so many new tradeshows to do with webmasters, blogging, seo etc. Copying others and repeating news is so web 1.0!

    Can’t wait to see you at pubcon.

  8. Nice article Matt, I love a ‘guy on the street’ story, good for him!

  9. If you’re starting fresh, I’d still pick dashes.

    Amen to that and thanks. After the recent flurry of conversations surrounding this topic in various blogs it was becoming a little hazy on what was best way forward. Thanks for confirming this as this puts to rest a debate with our small team.

  10. [quote]I think you meant to link to the cartoon[/quote]

    Now I think you meant to link to what you linked to because you already explained how to see the cartoons.

    I hope my quote works. There are no quoting instructions. I don’t even see what blog software this is, but I guess it’s Google’s, whatever it’s called.

  11. I knew little about SEO before reading this and other type blogs. I am now much more aware and enlightened.

    Good on this chap and Danny is a bad boy for teasing him.

    Cheers,

    Steve

  12. Matt_Not_Cutts

    Hey Matt, great post, but the San Diego Chiropractic business has pretty much nothing to do with the topics he’s talking about in his blog — the blog is just personal anecdotes as far as I can tell. I like how you keep re-inforcing the link bait idea, but are you suggesting that a link to a page like http://www.bodyabcs.com/bwp/2007/07/watching-over-the-forest/ is really useful for his business website?

  13. Hi Matt

    Thanks for the powerpoint presentation, it did give me some useful ideas I want to thank you for it!

    best regards

    Frank

  14. Great post Matt. It’s so informative.

  15. You should host your presentation on YouTube. Some excellent nuggets of info here!

  16. SearchEnginesWeb disagrees with several points in this theme:

    It is one thing to have a site that ranks for very non competative keywords that may only bring one visitor every few weeks, but it is an entirely different ballgame as the keywords get more competative.

    Many people who resort to Gray Hat strategies have no other choice because of budgets and the fact that their competitors can dwarf them in every conceivable way. Because many firms are expanding into more and more areas – many smaller people are being squeezed out to the point of invisibility.

    It simply does very very very very little good to have a ranking far away from page one. And even so, there are sponsor links and adwords competing for attention on virtually every page.

    On the subject of link bait – IT DOES NOT REFLECT ON THE PRODUCTS OR SERVICES THAT SOMEONE IS PUSHING. Sure, you can use creative tactics to get eyeballs to your domain, but that has nothing to do with whether the product or service that is being pushed is any good.

    What SearchEnginesWeb just can not make you or Google Engineers understand is that…..

    …..there has to be a reworking of the entire system from the ground up.

    The eco-system is being irreversibly altered because the rich are just as hungry to get richer, as the newbie is to get a foothole. Who is likely to win in the competition???!!!

    You talk about IMPROVING a site – but what is being lost is that there was NOTHING to begin with. Any effort will be a technical improvement, but it does not mean that someone will get prospects after debuting at page 4 from page 20.

    Gray Hat and Black Hat evolved out of desperation and cynicism. They will continue to get more advanced until some understanding is demonstrated and some compassion is shown in the ALGOS.

    These rebuttals are not to be taken personally. SearchEnginesWeb is quite aware of what you and the rest of the Google Engineers are saying about these passionate posts and incessant pleas for mutual understanding.

  17. Thanks Matt, Nice Post and PPT…..:-)

  18. Hi Matt,

    Very interesting post. It couldn’t have come at a better time too. I have just recently “persuaded” my manager (SEO Dept Head) to allow me to implement a blog into our sites.

    This, along with my information that I have passed on will definitely help me give this addition (the blog) a bit more weight in his eyes.

    Presentation was great, and thanks for the links and listing of the plugins you use. Will watch the video a little later.

    Byron

  19. What an absurd idea: Publishing cartoons to add so-called “valuable” content for a chiropractic’s site.

    How does this fit into Google guidelines for webmasters:

    Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. [...] Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”

    Tell me that this is a joke, please…

  20. Thanks for posting the PPT file. What, no Google Presently? :)

    > Don’t put blog at root page of domain

    I’d say consider to *do* put the blog at the root. Don’t even think of creating a subdomain for it. You can still have your “normal” homepage be at a different domain. I’ve some experience with making the wrong choice on this issue with “blog.outer-court.com”…
    And look at http://www.mattcutts.com, which is a rather blank, unused page, so people must enter longer URLs to get to the content, or do an extra click.

    And the argument “you get some extra links that way”, well, forget about thinking about links, and focus on the reader, isn’t that better?

    > ALT tags

    Must not nitpick… must not nitpick… :)
    But serious, alt texts aren’t meant to be title texts. They’re two different things, and using alt text like “Company Logo” is really more hurtful (as is using alt to keyword-stuff… not in SEO terms, but in accessibility terms, e.g. for non-visual browsing scenarios).

    > SEO tips: Usability
    > – Make sure your site is crawlable
    > …
    > – Check your blog on a cell phone/iPhone

    That’s accessibility, not usability. OK, I AM nitpicking now ;)

    > Creativity creates buzz/word-of-mouth
    > – Lonelygirl15
    > – Million pixel home page

    Agreed, though by stating specific examples of past buzz-creating approaches, people can fall into a trap and e.g. create another million-dollar-homepage spin-off (a good way to look like a spammer). The part about the million-dollar homepage that was interesting was not its specific concept, but the fact that this specific concept was new. I think it’s cool to get partly inspired by these things, especially in terms of craft or “media uses” if you will (the million dollar guy invested in a not-so-cheap press release, for instance), but you need to mix it with your own passion and angles.

    > Create controversy
    > – Mention Robert Scoble

    Sigh. “How to be a troll to get higher PageRank 101″?

    Why not say “Don’t shy away from controversy IF you truly believe in what you say”?

  21. I have decided I don’t need SEO anymore, in any way, shape or form…

    My site has been taken over by a strange religious force who has moved me to the top of Google!

    Here’s the article, see for yourself…

    http://marketingasolicitor.com/?p=51

  22. Dave (original)

    But serious, alt texts aren’t meant to be title texts. They’re two different things, and using alt text like “Company Logo” is really more hurtful (as is using alt to keyword-stuff… not in SEO terms, but in accessibility terms, e.g. for non-visual browsing scenarios).

    I don’t believe Matt did say “alt texts aren’t meant to be title texts”.

    Alt=Alternative Text for those who cannot see images for whatever reason. They should briefly and concisely describe the image and should always be used. Unfortunately most Browsers erroneously show the Alt attribute as tool-tip text.

    The Title attribute can be used if the image is linked to another page or bookmark. In this case is should be used to briefly and concisely describe the landing page/bookmark.

  23. Nice Work!
    These are easy things to make a nice seo on your blog for those don’t have much experience on Advanced SEO.
    Anyway I miss something, quite easy, for everyone. Disallow certain pages on robots…

  24. It simply does very very very very little good to have a ranking far away from page one.

    That may depend on whether you’re targeting businesses. According to False Oracles: Consumer Reaction to Learning the Truth About How Search Engines Work at http://www.consumerwebwatch.org/dynamic/search-report-false-oracles.cfm you’re right when it comes to consumers.

    “Not one participant explored search results beyond the fifth delivered page. Of the 163 searches in which a participant selected a link to explore, the majority or 88 percent of the result links selected were located on the first page. The number of pages explored by participants decreased considerably after page one. There were only 16 cases in which a participant viewed the second page of results, two cases where the third page was reviewed, and one case in which the fifth page was scanned.”

    But look at this Q and A from WebAdvantage.net’s “Business Users Search Engine Survey” at http://www.webadvantage.net/news.cfm?news_category_id=1&&news_item_id=140&&a=2 :

    Question 5:
    If you don’t find what you’re looking for on the first page of search results, do you typically quit at that point or continue on?

    Quit after 1st Page: 37 (8%)
    Continue on to 2nd Page: 125 (28%)
    Continue on to 3rd Page: 125 (28%)
    Continue on past the 4th page until I find what I’m looking for: 164 (36%)

    I also found some alleged AOL search engine data but the above seems more reliable.

  25. Hi Matt,
    This is really a very good presentation and gives many good ideas, 10x

  26. A lot of nice hints, but iam not sure about all of them. some points contingently collide with googles webmaster guidelines. what’s it all about Matt?

  27. C’mon Matt, you missed the most important part about David. He’s ranking tops for the term now :)

  28. Seo

    Good presentation :)
    But blog not in the root of domain … only if you have another project in the root!

  29. Thank you Matt! Great PowerPoint. Thank you for the tips.

    Can I ask for a suggestion?

    I see you have 5 posts on your page and I guess in that case there is no need for the to avoid duplicate content on your own site since you are very active and the index does not have a “more” and your blog archives quickly , but what about those blogs that have 25 or even 50 posts on the index? Yes the will avoid having GoogleBot seeing it as duplicate but is there a suggestion you can recommend on how much content should be posted before the and also how many posts should be put on the index?

  30. Hi Matt
    Thank you for clarifying the _ – issue… it’s lovely to go into the weekend with at least one aspect of SEO clear in our minds!
    Cheers
    G

  31. Nice Presentation Matt. It is very usefull for SEO.

  32. Jesse

    @Matt

    Hi Matt, cool presentation :)
    You talked among other things about not putting blogs in the root, and later about redirects.
    After that, I was wondering why you don’t redirect your http://www.mattcutts.com root to /blog, instead of the short text with hyperlinks pointing to /blog. Is there a SEO reason for not redirecting (using 301 or 302) to the blog directory, or a just personal preference?

    (At the moment my website faces the same question. Since my website doesn’t have a homepage, but I do want to point the root to my blog, I’m wondering if I should redirect or create a almost empty root with links, like you have.)

  33. i think the cartoons are a great idea. but i almost wonder if it wouldn’t be better to have these types of things in a personal blog off the main site. this way there is a separation between the business and the personal side.

    OFF TOPIC COMMENT AHEAD!!
    Now for the real meat of my post! with the google dance and ses 07 coming up very soon the question begs to be asked about if you will be there. since for many SEO’s you are the face and the voice of google i know many people, my self included, would love to meet you in person and talk about things like “Why did google take my spam site out of the index” and other fun stuff.

  34. > I don’t believe Matt did say “alt texts aren’t meant to be title texts”.

    Yes, you’re right. It was more of a general remark, because Matt’s item on this wasn’t very detailed. Matt’s presentation says, “ALT tags are handy (3-4 relevant words)”. And I think that advice is not conforming to alt-attribute-the-way-it’s-meant to be. And if you’re at that point, you’re writing your HTML for search engines, not conforming to the W3C specifications, which are meant for all user agents (including search engines, but also e.g. non-visual browsing contexts, your “normal” big resolution IE7 with all kinds of plugins, mobile browsers, etc.). The best tip for alt texts IMO is “if necessary and possible communicate the message the image, when rendered/ seen, was intended to communicate”.

    And again, the title attribute fits much more with the “3-4 relevant words” advice, at least outside of doing-something-just-for-searche-engines advice. If I have a painting of Vermeer then the title attribute can be something like “Vermeer van Delft: Girl with a Pearl Earring”. There you have the keywords (and a search bot may look at this for image search etc.). But these words mostly should also appear below that painting, as normal text outside the image. And if you’d include the same words as alt text, a non-image rendering context will display or speak the following:

    Vermeer van Delft: Girl with a Pearl Earring
    Vermeer van Delft: Girl with a Pearl Earring

    And that’s bad accessibility because it’s repetitive. Instead, the alt text in this case should be e.g. “The lady, who looks to be in her early twenties, has her face directed towards… etc. etc.”. (*If* you’re serious about replacing the intent of showing the painting through an alt-text.)

  35. @Matt
    As truly fantastic a plugin as it is, over the past year I’ve found Akismet becoming less and less effective. I recently learned about the Spam Karma 2 antispam plugin and I find it to be far superior. The configurable options and complex weighting system make it an exceptionally versatile comment analysis utility. http://unknowngenius.com/blog/wordpress/spam-karma/

    @SearchEnginesWeb
    That was a fantastic rebuttal. Everyone wants a piece of the pie but there isn’t enough dessert to go around. I oversimplify this to make my point, but as a Technical Writer I’ve often observed engineers putting too much focus on the technical side and not enough on the human side. Some people will do anything – even skip dinner – to get pie, but engineers often advise these people to simply sharpen their forks and wait for the pie to come to them.

  36. I also have a write up of your presentation on my blog, plus 17 other steps to optimize your WordPress Blog for SEO.

  37. To Davids credit he had a good ranking before Matt made this post. I know Dave and he’s likely peeing his pants know with excitement. This guy has worked hard to learn the stuff from the ground up.

    Matt_Not_Cutts: I believe there is only so much David can say about his business. That gets boring day in and day out. We now get to see a human side “the non clinical white coat guy” of this fellow and that is good for his business (at least in MHO).

    Great post!

  38. Thanks Matt…Great PPT/Tips.

  39. I remember that in the Pubcon 2006. I had a big Local Listing issue solved for sarasota massage therapy listing as well. Thats when I realized how Google and the team response to issue like quickly. Thanks Matt

  40. p.s., Matt, I love your term “blindingly loud”!

  41. Thanks for the powerpoint Matt. A lot of good reminders in there for folks to consider. See you in San Jose. Stop by the Enquiro booth (if you get a moment) and say hello.

  42. Harith, I’m comfortable with SEO being whitehat/blackhat; I don’t think you’d get many blackhats to say “I don’t do SEO; I do spam!”

    Colin Colehour, thanks for asking. Right now I’m in bed with a pack of frozen peas again. I start to get a little better and stress da back too much. I’m hoping to get some lie-down-for-long-stretches-of-time cycles soon.

    Barry, I didn’t want to copy the photos without permission, but also wanted people to see the photos first. But your link will cause people to see it.

    Anjanesh, you’d have to check with John; he uploaded it, not me. If I did it, I would have put it up on Google Video. :)

    Barry, I use WordPress (that’s part of why I was speaking at WordCamp) I think using the “blockquote” tag is the way to quote in a box.

    Steve Hill, Danny always teases gently. And in fact I teased a bit for the site using Comic Sans as the font. It’s still around on the site a little bit, but not on the main page now. Alls well that ends the use of Comic Sans, I always say.

    Matt_Not_Cutts and Robert, normally I get the question in the exact opposite way: “Suppose I run a heavy farm equipment blog. There’s clearly nothing interesting to talk about or linkbait to do in the farm equipment space.” David’s blog proves that just taking part in web-wide conversations can stir up interest. Blogs are a great way to humanize, to participate, and yes, to get links. People sometimes link to my Firefox posts more than my SEO posts, for example. That’s not a horrible thing. And simply by putting on his thinking cap and participating in the conversation (David sometimes comments over here, although I didn’t connect it in my mind until we talked in person), that contributes to your web savviness and success.

    SEarCHEnGinESWEB, this was not a search/SEO conference. This was a room full of bloggers who had different levels of SEO awareness. If you watch the talk, one of the big themes I tried to hit was creativity for post ideas. I do think that’s a useful skill that will pay off for the people that were in the audience.

    Philipp Lenssen, my “root page” point was to leave yourself room for future expansion; if you ever want to do something on your root page *other* than a blog, it’s a pain to migrate all those urls. So I recommend adding a qualifying namespace (e.g. /blog/) so that you’ve got room to grow beyond just a blog. On ALT tags, my point was more to do them and have them accurately describe the image, rather than not do them. I love that WordPress asks you for ALT text for each image you add. I would run the risk of getting lazy if I were adding the tag myself.

    Philipp, On the whole “controversy” and “make lists” ways of link baiting, if you read the talk transcript, I said things like “Ah, I don’t care as much for creative controversy.” and “Use this sparingly, cause, boy, you can give up some credibility as well.” So I tried to convey that if linkbait is in tiers of goodness, creativity is at the top, and just being controversial is definitely one of the lower forms of linkbaiting in my book. Given that this was a room full of bloggers, I thought it appropriate to point out that people do things like “slip the name Robert Scoble” into a post, but it’s better to come up with creative ideas of your own.

    Danny Sullivan, absolutely, he’s doing much better for his terms. David talked to me at WordCamp about some of the success he’s had with SEO, but I wasn’t going to remark on his success; I’ll leave that up to David to decide whether/how to comment. But the people who said “I don’t think some of this stuff would help,” — David has done well with the search engine optimization that he’s taught himself.

    Michael Wilson SEO, ten posts on the front page is pretty good for lots of folks. I lowered mine to five mainly for mobile/iPhone readers. I think 25 or 50 is a bit much, but that’s more my personal opinion. Depending on your industry, I’d experiment for a week or two with different numbers of posts on the front-page, and go with whatever seems to work well.

    Philipp Lenssen, I covered ALT tags a bit earlier in this comment but my short three points would be
    1. Use them
    2. Make them accurate
    3. After the first two, it doesn’t hurt to be aware and use keywords that users might type.

    Brian, thanks for the plugin advice! I heard good things about Spam Karma and also Bad Behavior at the conference.

    Michael Dorausch, but it’s also true that David has at least a couple online resources that are directly work-specific that I found interesting.

  43. OMG! Matt broke Viddler.com.

    If you read John Pozadzides ‘s post he says:

    “I first made this video available on Viddler.com, but their entire site went down shortly after I created this post”

  44. Unfortunately, your post points to a deficiency of Google. As far as I can tell, you’re saying that because there is no great way to differentiate yourself for the “San Diego Chiropractor” search, in that most people aren’t going on the Internet and raving about their local chiropractor with links that will then boost the chiropractor’s rankings, that the thing to do is create a lot of unrelated content that WILL build links back, thus making you rank better for “San Diego Chiropractor”, even though nothing you’ve done offers the least suggestion that you deserve to show up first when someone is searching for a chiropractor in San Diego.

    Granted, if you’re looking for a chiropractor in San Diego, it’s difficult for a search engine to discern which one is the best, but it’s not difficult for a search engine to discern which one is the best at creating unrelated content and having people who know nothing about the chiropractic services link back to that content. This guy could be the worst chiropractor in the world but good at making fun cartoons, but is that the best thing for my aching back?

    We all know this is often how SEO works, but it’s certainly not the ideal, and it’s strange to see you touting this person’s SEO strategy as if this is a good thing for Google’s end customer, the searcher.

  45. I am fairly new to the whole SEO game but I have to ask the same question a few of the dissenters have – how do cartoons make a Chiropractor’s site any more relevant for the service he’s trying to promote? I get the idea behind LinkBaiting, but in this case isn’t it just trying to work the system and in the end generating non-relevant links back to his site?

  46. Great post Matt,

    This sort of stuff helps the small DIY webmaster whether for blogging or other types of websites.

    Our vertical is the sort of thing detractors say “its boring – you cant link bait that” – but I disagree. You just need to think out of the box and make your “boring commodity” interesting.

    In fact – if your “boring commodity” is no more interesting than the 10 others already on page 1 why should they make way for you?

    We have just commisioned a custom flash game to be written as link bait and “fun” for our “boring commodity” site. May work/may not work (and darn its gonna take a month to write) – but at least we are trying.

    So, Matt – thanks for posts like these – they are extremely helpful to the DIY Webmaster/SEO like me who are learning the ropes (the hard way)

  47. Great Post Matt,

    Perhaps sometime soon you could post something for Realtors who are trying to help their own site in white hat SEO ways. For me personally I am getting kind of exausted with Active Rain, RealEstateWebmasters Blogs, WordPress, … Just getting to be very very time consuming and seems like their must be some other things that would give equal or better benefit as the above listed. Any ideas???

  48. Just wanted to thank you for posting it all. Some good reminders, and a few newish things.

    One question regarding domain.com and http://www.domain.com – I was just about to use a 301 rewrite to force use of one. Can I leave it at that, or should I also register my site with google/webmasters and choose the same one?

  49. Ray Burn, happy if it helps. :)

    Adam Jusko, I think you’re focusing disproportionately on the linkbait aspect. David wanted to show up for the words “A B C” and when he brought it to the site review panel, I don’t think the page even had the words “A B C” on it, let alone together as a phrase of adjacent words. Then there’s improving your ROI by improving your conversion rate. I mentioned that the site would probably want to look as professional as possible, which is a good reason to minimize the Comic Sans font. Hopefully a few extra visitors converted because of changes like that.

    Did David get creative? Sure. But much of that creativity was completely on-topic. For example, he posted the full content of two books her wrote about his subject area: http://www.bodyabcs.com/Library.html

    That’s the sort of thing that stacks up well against an empty or brochure-like site. So David did a ton of things to tweak his sites, improve his conversion rates, and bolster his reputation in a relevant, on-topic way.

    Things like starting a blog can attract links, but the bedrock of SEO is still having a great site, and David focused on that first.

  50. Agree with everything you just wrote, Matt. But I think your post focused disproportionately on the link bait aspect, which is why I had the reaction I did, and a few others seem to have as well.

    I think your response to me sounds more like what I think of as Google’s attitude, which is that you become highly ranked by being an expert or “the best” at something. If his site’s content makes it persuasive that he’s the go-to chiropractor in San Diego, then by all means he should rank highly. I’d rather go to a doctor that makes me comfortable that he knows what he’s doing through his Web site content than a random Web site with a name, some clip art, and a list of services. (The stuff about putting the words “San Diego chiropractor” on your Web page if you want to rank for that search is obviously nothing to argue about.)

    It sounds like we agree, but I think your post does make it seem as if he’s used some trickery unrelated to his core service in order to rank well for his desired search phrase. That’s the part that I think rubs your average searchers the wrong way (if they even understand it).

  51. Hey Matt. I just recently watched the video on Viddler yesterday when it was featured on the home page. I watched the whole thing and learned a lot more than I already knew. Thanks for presenting the video!

    Sly

  52. I remember that session very well. One of the things he said stuck with me and I’ve followed his example on my floor plan pages. He said he had a surfer that was blind visit his site and loved it because the descriptions were so well written he knew exactly what everything was. Its funny the different things people have taken out of that conference.

  53. Hmmm. I think I agree with Adam Jusko. There is something not quite right about all this cartooning and linkbaiting as the path to rankings.

    Shouldn’t something like this rank well?
    http://www.yelp.com/search?find_loc=San+Diego%2C+CA+92104&cflt=chiropractors

    Other than Yelp’s increasingly atrocious link structure and architecture, of course. For individual business listings, they appear to have encoded strings as URL’s, with session ID’s thrown in for good measure. Even their hard-coded category pages seem unwieldy. But I digress.

  54. I have a site that needs some updating. We are removing a product, and didn’t know how we should handle the redirect for the page (which has some pagerank). We can’t do a 301 because it is on a static html file under IIS. What would you recommend? I read meta refreshes are marked as spam and javascript refreshes can be as well, we just want the rank to pass, not the keywords.

  55. I thought you said something very interesting at the very end of the 2nd video about WordPress not allowing PayPerPost – so I wrote a blog post about it today.

    After about an hour a person (who appears to work for PPP) commented on my blog that I was a bit confused and that only applied to blogs on the WordPress.com domain. So I checked into it and it appears that he is correct.

    I love to spin my blog post against my competitors (which they od course hate) so I couldn’t resist writing that post. :)

    BTW, get video who ever filmed it.

    Dave

  56. Thanks for the slides. I’m glad you clarified a few things that have been circulating on the internet, for example, Google is now treating underscores the same as dashes, and Google will penalize your site if you have more than 2 dashes in the URL or whatever.

    Regarding the use of good and creative (but totally unrelated) cartoons to promote a chiropractor website, maybe it is more reasonable for a blog, but does the same technique help content-rich websites? I’m interested in learning more about Google’s view of a site’s main topic vs. unrelated contents. If a site covers three separate topics A, B and C, will backlinks to B help the ranking of A and C pages as well? This will definitely be one factor in terms of building three niche websites or one that covers all three.

    Thanks again. BTW, any chance your next blog will be about toolbar PR? Its purpose and usefulness? Even in or out?

    Hart

  57. Harith

    Matt

    “Harith, I’m comfortable with SEO being whitehat/blackhat; I don’t think you’d get many blackhats to say “I don’t do SEO; I do spam!” ”

    Maybe within a year or so you would realize that the efforts of fighting SE spam need the collaboration of search engines and ethical SEOs. In fact ethical SEOs are the most “natural” partners of search engines.
    As such associating something negative to the term SEO as blackhat wouldn’t encourage the said collaboration at all.

    You may call me a dreamer but I do believe that at some point in near future both search engines and ethical SEOs would work together toward some kind of SEOs certification standards. Maybe an ethical SEO cerification badge would emerge.

    Google is the leader of search and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Google inviting ethical SEOs to the first conference to work together to establishing Ethical SEO Certification Standards :-)

  58. Wow! There comments suggest there is not much of a middle ground here. My opinion, if he wants to post cartoons on his blog, where is the harm as long as they are not offensive. If someone else chooses to set up a link to those pictures from their blog, even yours Matt. Where is the harm? It’s your blog and you can link to whoever you want to with it. Thanks for the post Matt. It was a pretty entertaining read.

  59. Hi Matt, First off, thanks for the link. :-)
    My apologies if you feel my coverage about the underscores wasn’t completely accurate. For the record, I never said that underscores were the same as dashes. Indeed, in your talk you recommend dashes/hyphens as the preferred method of separating words in URLs. Also for the record, what I said in my write-up was: “underscores in URLs are now (or at least very soon to be) treated as word separators by Google”. That was based on your statements in your talk (taken verbatim from the video recording of your talk, at approx. the 17 minute mark):

    The interesting thing is we used to treat underscores as if they were like word A underscore word B, we would glom that together and we would index that as A underscore B, so if you just searched for the word A, we wouldn’t return your post. Ah… We’re in the process of changing that. We might have already changed that. So dashes and underscores are almost exactly the same.

    So I still don’t see where I misreported your announcement. Please clarify where I went astray. Thanks!

  60. Thanks for the links and very good slides.
    Many of web creators in my country prefer Black Hat SEO because they want to make more money without thinking about quality of contents or how long they will stay in SERPs.

    I try not to do anything with black hat, although white hat is more difficult and take longer time. But with your suggestions and many of good articles, I think I will do White Hat SEO with good guidelines.

    thanks so much.

  61. Thanks for the free honest SEO tips not only for bloggers but also for webmasters and web publishers.

  62. Thanks for the tips, Matt. I really enjoyed the video of your presentation that John put up on Viddler, and I’ve already begun to implement some changes on my site, based on your suggestions (only a few minutes after watching the video, in fact).

  63. Thank You Matt !

    You have really answered to my suggestion in your last article about WordCamp

  64. I understand how keyword stuffing has influenced the google algo over the past several years especially the Jagger update. But, what happened to the hard line on link spam? Is there a major link spam update coming? Here is an example http://www.infiniteadvice.com/ went from 26 BL’s to 862 BL’s in 4 months! I looked into it and a company called Text-Link Ads is selling links to this guy hand over fist. This company even published Link Buying guide! Of course Google Pr was a major selling point you can see it for yourself at http://www.text-link-ads.com/starter_kit.php. It is very hard building links and these link spam guys really get my goat.

  65. Hi Matt, thanks for the post/presentation! I just installed some recomended plugins :-)

    I would like to ask you one question i simply can’t find an answer. With lots of links in the blogroll and throught a blog. What happens if a page has more then 100 links. do just the first 100 links get spidered by the google bot?

  66. Adaml

    Just to follow up on one of the earliest comments, he uses WordPress and you have to use html for blockquotes as he does not have a bbs code added to the program ( I am almost sure)
    Adaml
    PS: I do see that it brings lots more people sending links, but not for the real reason of the site, does that matter?
    PSS: I will read the rest of the comments now as well sorry if this is a dupe comment.

  67. Morristown NJ Real Estate Guy, buying a house is a blizzard of crazy forms that a new buyer doesn’t understand. A series of posts like “What are the forms you sign when you buy a house?” would be great. Each post could be about one form and give a little background/history on why people have that form, when it started, etc.

    For example, my wife and I just went through the process of selling our Honda Civic to someone, and I did a bunch of searches to find out “What needs to be done to sell a car?” There’s a bill of sale, the certificate of title, the odometer certification, the notice of release of liability which the seller mails to the DMV. It’s a hassle. The site that I ended up at did a really good job of walking through all of that, and probably got a lot of links as a result.

    David, I would register your preference in the Google webmaster console *and* do 301s as well. The 301s will help other search engines.

    Adam Jusko, I agree with your points. David Klein did a lot of on-topic stuff as well. I was this close to adding the link to David Klein’s two books that he wrote and put online about his area of expertise, but I was doing a lot of links to his site and didn’t want it to be rah rah link link to everything on his page. I could have pointed out more in the post that David also did a bunch of work to improve his site, including on-topic resources that also acted as extremely-relevant linkbait.

    Sly from Slyvisions.com, glad if it helped. :)

    Andrew Goodman, see my comment to Adam Jusko just above. In addition, your point about Yelp is what we refer to internally as the “grocery store” problem. If someone does the query “grocery store,” is it better to return lots of examples of grocery stores? Or is it better to return hub/directory sites that list grocery stores? Different people will have different preferences. Teoma/Ask leans much more toward the former, for example. I can respect that both can be useful, and a good result page might including a smattering of concrete sites + hub pages that point to concrete sites. Good question.

    Dave Dugdale, when discussing PPP, the point I was making was that WordPress didn’t allow PPP on their own wordpress.com site.

    Harith, we’ve discussed that topic within the Googleplex. My only point is that if you try to move “whitehat SEO vs. blackhat SEO” into “SEO vs. spam” then you’ll be trying to pry a bunch of people from one naming scheme to another, and quite a few won’t want to go. I view the terminology issue as orthogonal to the idea of agreeing on best practices or certification.

    Stephan, I see where you’re coming from. Some people read your write-up and concluded that they were the same, but that doesn’t mean that you said it yourself. I’ll update my post.

    Efren A., glad you enjoyed it!

  68. Harith

    Matt,

    Fair enough. And thanks for taking the time to reply ;-)

    Btw, I have just finished reading this book, though in Danish. Highly recommended reading for both busy ethical SEOs as well as busy Googlers :-)

  69. Excellent post and links here Matt.
    However I have a “beef” with the emphasis on linkbaiting and basic SEO as good ways to rise in the ranks (they ARE, but should not be). I’d argue that in an ideal search environment SEO would have effectively *zero* effect on ranks (because it’s communicating with the bot not the user), and linkbaiting things would have only a minor effect unless they were highly relevant to the query.
    We now see a lot of SERPS where you see a bunch of sites, all similar, ranked more according to how their SEO, history, links, structure match Google’s expectations rather than how a user would view them. Google generally argues that these are essentially the same but they are probably only roughly correlated.
    The fix for this would be greater transparency in the ranking process combined with greater penalties for being deceptive. If Google is going to aggressively defend the integrity of the algorithm the ranking process should be more accessible, especially to mom and pops who will increasingly flirt with disaster as they try to find ranking advantages.

  70. Gray Hat and Black Hat evolved out of desperation and cynicism. They will continue to get more advanced until some understanding is demonstrated and some compassion is shown in the ALGOS.

    No, they evolved out of greed, vested interest, and egomaniacism. There’s a difference.

    Personally, I think the cartoon idea is cool. It’s like the whole Simpsonize Me thing.

  71. Hi Matt

    Great blog but (and of course there always is!) I have a couple of points.

    1) I manage a site which sells cookware. We’re doing pretty well, lots of repeat custom etc etc, even some 1st place ratings in Googe for specific terms. Now, I could start a blog. I could write about cookware, after all I know a fair amount about it and I could tinker with keywords eg ‘cheese grater, cheese graters, graters, grater’ etc etc. But doesn’t that hit back at the heart of the original definition of ‘pagerank’.

    I come from a scientific/academic background and I understand the concept of citations and I think using links as a form of online version of that makes sense. But one thing I do know is that when I produced my papers my tutors weren’t interested in 1000 references that I’d pulled the odd word from, what they were interested in is my using 100 references which made sense.

    2) The products my site sells are largely ‘everyday’ items. Take my cheese grater example. I could write the following:

    ‘Stainless steel box cheese grater, measures 20cm’ or I can write

    ‘This marvellous stainless cheese grater is a king amongst cheese graters. This cheese grater measures a useful 20cm in the finest grade stainless steel. You can use any of our cheese graters to grate cheese and all manner of other food stuff. Use our grater and you will be sure to have the greatest cheese ever.’

    Speaking personally, if I’m buying a cheese grater I don’t want or need the word(s) repeated 20 times in the description. I want a great image and I want a brief description which tells me what its made of and its dimensions.

    So, on my site, do I write content for a busy user who wants to choose between the 20 different cheese graters we sell or do I write content that will suit a search engine?

    PS: While the example is somwhat tongue in cheek I really would be interested to hear thoughts on this.

  72. Dave (original)

    The fix for this would be greater transparency in the ranking process combined with greater penalties for being deceptive.If Google is going to aggressively defend the integrity of the algorithm the ranking process should be more accessible, especially to mom and pops who will increasingly flirt with disaster as they try to find ranking advantages.

    That wouldn’t benefit Google’s users and would only help the GIANTS over the small. Mom & Pop sites in Google have a level & objective playing field already. I see pages from Mom & Pop sites out ranking, or VERY close behind the GIANTS all the time. No site NEEDS to “flirt with disaster” in order to rank well, it takes common sense, a good grasp of the said topic and out-of-the-box thinking. There is only 10 spots on page 1, 2….

    The aim should be to become THE site on the chosen topic. NEVER rely on a few pages for the bulk of traffic, rely on a few hundred/thousand (blogs, forums etc). That, combined good old fashioned hard work, which many Webmasters are adverse to.

    I guess it’s human nature to want a free ride, magic pills and tools etc, whether it be weight loss or ranking. TIME TO WAKE UP A SMELL THE COFFEE :)

  73. Great PPT Matt, it was good to see everything I had done for my blog be roughly what you prescribe. Personally though I’m a write it custom or go home kinda guy. Cheers.

  74. Matt, you mention on slide #25:

    “Don’t use sponsored theme – can lose all your trust in different search engines.”

    What exactly do you mean by sponsored theme? To avoid themes that have a link back to the designers home page? (they ALL want it ;) )

  75. Matt, great stuff. Very informative. But that’s what you’re all about :p

    SEarCHEnGinESWEB

    [quote]
    SearchEnginesWeb is quite aware of what you and the rest of the Google Engineers are saying about these passionate posts and incessant pleas for mutual understanding.[/quote]

    Dude. Stop talking about yourself in 3rd person. Seriously. I see you lurking Matt’s blog on just about every post the guy makes. Let him do his job, and you do whatever it is you do for a living. Thanks.

  76. Dan

    Thanks for working to get the PowerPoint released. I saw the presentation and was hoping I’d be able to see the slides again.

  77. thank you for your great tips.
    now i understand how much more i need to learn

  78. JimWebber

    Seriously, if all you are going to do is answer the questions from your buddies and SEO A-listers why even bother posting on your blog? I’d just send a bulk email to all your friends, then you don’t need to bother ignoring all of the actual questions from real people. If I, “joe-six-pack” toss you some softball questions will you answer them? NOT! Will you ignore them because I don’t kiss your ego every day on my blog?

    How about you step up and answer the real meaty questions and ignore who asked them. Pathetic.

  79. Harith

    Hey Matt

    I found your mom’s blog and website. She is doing a great charity work. Power to her! You must be a proud son.

    Don’t you think the cause she is working for deserves some visibility in your next post introducing her blog and site ;-)

  80. Sorry..
    The link went bad..

  81. Thanks for the power point and was good to see the video. Thanks for the tips for writing content :)

  82. The Power Point presentation was really helpful. Thanks for motivating me into finding new SEO ideas! I was getting stale.

    Kind Regards

  83. Great info Matt….cheers :)

  84. Great post, Matt

    Thanks for sharing!!

  85. I just read Stephanie Booth’s write-up of the session, and learn the PPT. It was great. Thank you very much.

  86. Sorry to hear that your back is still bad enough to need the frozen veg treatment. I put out my back a couple of times, lifting my small kids… look after yourself – trying to get back to work and going mobile too quickly can slow the whole healing process, IME. FWIW, I’m typing this on my back having injured my knee – and I failed to take my own advice and delaying full recovery.

    IMO, Adam Jusko and Andrew Goodman are on the right track, and I think you’ve slightly sidestepped the issue. It’s actually pretty crucial, and is part of the reason for the success of at least smudged-hat techniques.

    Because Google uses a citation model, but doesn’t pay so much attention to relevance, or even whether the content is human-derived, it encourages the generation of irrelevant or only marginally relevant content. The ultimate expression of that is the automated generation of entire sites through AI spawned text or scraping, RSS snippet capture, and the automated submission of high entropy text to blogs, forums and even webmail enquiry forms with embedded links to attempt to defeat Bayesian and simple spam rejection tools. Interesting comments on “Lambda The Ultimate” about this (http://lambda-the-ultimate.org/node/2368#comment-35337).

    The effect of Google’s ranking model is that businesses do expend effort that isn’t directly relevant to user needs. Example: take a competitive term. Imagine that you blog about it constantly, and gain readership and links. Your competitors will then use grey or black hat techniques, web and blog spam, machine generated sites on aged domains, etc… Google respects these and so the business doing the right things, now has to consider doing stuff that is not directly anything to do with the business or in the interests of users.

    If you explain the evolution of the strategy, the obvious question for the marketing director of the client business is “well, we shouldn’t blog – let’s cut that activity and just pay for links”. It’s really hard to resist this and I’m becoming less and less convinced that I should. If *my* competitor can promise that the client will get ranking, without the effort to write about the business (which has a pretty high cost and may have only marginal utility to users and the business), then the economics will push the client towards a darker route for ranking. And everyone involved with administering the web faces higher costs because Google believes spam submitted to blogs and fora, and duplicated content aged sites with high entropy differentiation text (e.g. the MFA site with RSS choice).

    The Google guidelines are pretty good, but the algorithm doesn’t encourage the right behaviour, and web/link spam detection appears insufficiently severe. I’ve written this up in more detail, a few weeks ago, as http://blog.merjis.com/2007/07/30/google-is-destroying-the-web/ – yeah, linkbait…

    Cheers, JeremyC.

  87. Keonda

    Thanks for the tips!
    Would you say your math spam protection is more efficient than captchas? (at least they’re much more readable!)

  88. Umesh

    Being an ardent Blogger user, I am a little bit jealous that WordPress guys get to talk to/listen to/read you but not us Blogger guys.

    Blogger widgets yet don’t cover spam (like Akismet), there is no widget for title switch that you mentioned in your presentation, and the templates I am not sure are good enough for bigger computer screens?

    So I guess my question is when are you going to talk about Blogger like that?

  89. So the secret is to appease google search engineers?

  90. Hi Matt:

    Thanks for all the great information. It’s great to hear this kind of information from you. When I hear this kind of thing from one the million “SEO experts” out there – I never truly know how accurate it is. SEO for a beginner like myself can really be frustrating in that way.

  91. Hey Matt,

    My name is Orie Roberts, I am actually the cartoonist for Dr. David Klein and I really appreciate the stance you have taken on our efforts at WordCamp. Ever since I have started my work for him we have been continually brain storming new ways for our site to be seen and I have learned a lot in the process.

    I think the thing that a lot of people miss by not knowing him and our practice is that at the root of all these creative ideas and SEO tactics isn’t financial, by doing this his ultimate goal is to help as many people as he can. Our office is a great environment for our patients and has continually produced healthy and happy people. For everyone that is worried about a bad chiropractor getting all of this exposure because of some cartoons, put your worries to rest. There is only good that can come from this, as more people learn about our office the more people can be helped.

    Dr. Klein has worked tirelessly in the area of internet marketing, and most of the content is completely linked to chiropractic information, this was just a great idea that worked out better than we could have imagined. It was creative simple and wasn’t forced upon anyone to look at or link to. If it makes people happy seeing their cartoons then i don’t see much harm in it. I thank everyone for their input and I’m glad that our ideas have found their way into your discussions.

  92. Harith

    It seems Matt is at an all-week offsite with his team ;-)

  93. Hi Matt:

    Great post Matt and thanks for the powerpoint presentation…‼

    Best Regards.

  94. Matt, your PPT answered a lot of questions about WordPress that I’ve had. However, I have a question in reference to the way wordpress categorizes posts. Is Google going to have a problem with a post being in multiple categories. Technically this is creating duplicate content, and an article may fall into many categories.

    Will Google penalized for this?

    The same holds true for article directories as well does it not? If I publish an article on my site or blog and also submit it to a free trading directory giving rights up for it to be republished, how does Google see this?

    Thank you so much for your insight!

  95. Thanks Matt. Very useful power point presentation for white hat seo even though it simple.

    Waiting more tips from you ;)

  96. Matt-

    Thanks for posting this up. Very interesting and fun indeed.

  97. Matt – Thanks for the post. The slideshow was very educational. I’ve split my urls with some being www and some not; I’m not to have to fix that now…

    Thanks again!

  98. Hi Matt,

    Can you tell me if Google is (already) following the approach for blog rankings suggested in the articles below? And if so, what implications does this have for optimizing blogs?

    New Metrics for Newsblog Credibility – Brian Ulicny, Ken Baclawski
    http://vistology.com/papers/VIStologyICWSM07poster.pdf

    New Metrics for Blog Mining – Brian Ulicny, Ken Baclawski, Amy Magnus
    http://vistology.com/papers/VistologySPIE07.pdf

  99. Hi Matt. First of all, great, great article.
    Second: GOOGLE HATES ME!!!
    Ok, probably no, probably just happen that I don’t do something very well so the pagerank of my blog is stuck, even if I had more and more incoming links.
    I know you are a very busy man, so I will going straight to the the point, and I will try to put my question in a way you can just respond selecting one option.
    There are two things that perhaps make my page rank drop a little. One is duplicate content, subject that you talk briefly in your conference, and it seems that you want to talk some more, but sadly didn’t happen :(

    So this is the first question: Should I block in my robots.txt all the url of my wordpress tags, archive, category, etc to avoid all duplicate content? Or should I take advantage of the keywords in the url that those url offer me, and trust that google will “know” what happen?

    And the second question: What is best to google? Keep the html structure as it come in most wordpress themes (Blog Title=h1, post titles=h2, sidebar titles=h3, etc) or change it to, for example, single post title=h1, blog description=h2, sidebar titles to h5 or so, etc?

    Ok, that’s all. Believe me, is not that I don’t search this information. I search and I find so much (contradictory) information, that is very hard to choose what option is the right one. So that’s why I choose to go directly to the source.
    Thank you very much.

    PD. Yes, I know, my english is not perfect :(

  100. I always thought a tosser was a sex fiend in British slang. I guess that’s what I get for watching Showcase.

  101. I really liked your presentation….

  102. But Matt, this post was toooo long…If i took time to read this whole one I couldnt read the rest.

  103. Thanks Matt,
    Nice Post and PPT =)

  104. Hi Matt,
    I was just wondering why you use WordPress instead of Google’s own Blogger. Do WordPress blogs get ranked higher than blogspot blogs? I’ve got a blogspot blog (see above) but use my own domain name for it. Is there anything inherent within a WordPress blog that brings in more traffic? And if there is, is Google doing anything to improve the blogspot blogs? Thanks. Vic

  105. Great post thanks for the PPT!

  106. Hi Matt,

    I’ve a question for you, maybe it’s a stupid one but I’m quite curious about it.

    If on my blog I schedule the posts to be published at fixed intervals (for example, one post every day at 9:00), could Google guess that my blog has been created only for positioning reasons and therefore, is there the risk that my blog could be considered spam and be penalized? Or instead, the fixed frequency in posting doesn’t have any meaning for Google?

    Thanks in advance for your help
    Kind regards

  107. Hans van de Mosselaer

    Matt, I like you are posting the secrets lol. But explain this one then?

    why is http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/whitehat-seo-tips-for-bloggers/ better than http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/whitehat-seo-tips-for-bloggers.html?

    looks like google likes directories, because this is pure a directory and not a page.

    wish i could get your comment on it? i know out of expierence that your hints in the powerpoint presentation are right, but this one i could not understand.

  108. Fantastic post. This will be useful to bloggers and webmasters as they can learn a lot from this.

    2,890 on Alexa ! excellent blog Matt…How do you do it?

    Amazing work…

    Best Regards,

    Sajjid Manuel

  109. If you don’t have much time seeing the full video or reading the whole script, read the simplified summary I prepared:

    http://www.freetipsandwits.com/moneymakingblog/2007/08/white-hat-seo-tips-from-matt-cutts-of.html

    Please add the important points I missed in the comment area. Thanks.

  110. Hello Matts,

    Nice tips…

    Thanx to Dr Andy Williams to direct me to this page.

    Anish

  111. Hello
    I do not know if this is the right place to post but here goes :)

    I have been a webmaster since 1998 and have worked very hard to create a quality website that has a ton of content and many community features. In the past year I have seen inferior websites rise to the top of search keywords who have completely disregarded any quality guidelines and utilize many black hat tricks , with no obvious penalty
    or loss of pr or organic keyword placement. I have also been the victim of false paid link reports (apparently a competing website using my url in link schemes ), copyright infringement, proxy highjacking and outright blatant hack attempts that have taken down my server even though I have changed my dedicated server 3 times in the last 12 months.

    What can a legitimate website owner do to ensure that they are not victims of hackers that proxy highjack ( I have reported these urls to google twice and I still see my entire website title, description and all in my inurl results) , webmasters that make false reports or add your url without permission to link schemes and people who steal your content with no remorse ? I feel like a one woman cyber cop at times… Obvioulsy this is an unanswerable question … as the web is to big to police … but it is very frustrating for me : ) but alas this is my job how I feed my family and my chosen path in life.

    So I will continue to put my white hat on in the morning and do my best to keep creating a quality well designed websites in my little corner of cyberspace.

    Thanks for all of the great info in this blog post Matt … sorry for venting but I am very upset over the blatant black hat seo that goes on !

  112. Thanks for all of the infos & discussions in your blog Matt … a very usefull lecture for me ;-)
    Best Regards from europe
    Nathalie Laurent aka N-at-Work

  113. This awesome power point presentation! This is what a beginner need to know about SEO. Thanks Matt!

  114. This is a very interesting post. Man I learn a lot from your blog. Thanks for the hard work!

  115. g1smd

    *** “Harith, I’m comfortable with SEO being whitehat/blackhat; I don’t think you’d get many blackhats to say “I don’t do SEO; I do spam!” ***

    I am sure that you will not, in just the same way that a con-man is always going to insist that he is a legitimate business owner.

  116. Hi Matt,

    This thread and all the other useful stuff you post has inspired me to add a blog to our “boring” B2B ecommerce site.

    Playing with WordPress and all the cool plugins is fun too :)

    I’m really excited about the opportunities and I’m fizzing with ideas for posts that I know our customers will find useful – albeit in a very narrow niche market that the wider blogging community will not be so interested in!

    With all these possibilities to hand it beats me why anyone feels the need to engage in black hat stuff – the “Dark Side” never wins in the long term.

    May The Force be with you……….:)

  117. Great stuff. To me SEO comes down to:
    1.Valid HTML and valid CSS
    2.Keyword Research and content that matches your research
    3.Quality inbound links.

    There is no reason to do anything but white hat SEO. Why bother with all that junk when SEO is really about quality content and quality links.

  118. I watched your session from the WordCamp conference on the official website and really enjoyed it. I’ve even written a post about it. :)

    There are too many so called experts and also books about SEO, it’s really a jungle. Some of the info in these books may be true, but in reality, I don’t think one needs more than a copy of your PowerPoint show.

    The most reliable source of info for a topic like this is someone from Google – it has to be. Thanks a lot for sharing this info with us.

  119. Thanks for the excellent post Matt. I think I can shift my blog to another domain now :)

    Cheers,
    Paul

  120. Our wiccan/pagan online store needed some ‘white hat link bait’. As serendipity would have it, a group of local pagans was trying to build a “Pagan Talking Dictionary” , but needed hosting space and technical assistance.

    Since most Pagans are self-taught through books and the internet, pronunciation of magical terms with Hebrew, Latin, Welsh, and Sanskrit roots was a problem for many. We sponsored the dictionary (it really is pretty cool), at http://dictionary.thestonepentacle.com . It not only pronounces difficult words (like “Athame”, and “Samhain”), but the syllables actually seem to ‘swell-up’ as the word is pronounced.

    We sent out a few hundred press releases (online and via snail mail), and our hit rate went through the roof. We also gained hundreds of inbound links. At the same time we helped to create a genuinely valuable resource for the community.

    ‘White Hat’ tactics are the only way to get hits and links without regrets!!

    -bob

  121. This is still one of the most referenced articles in my bookmarks. I have written an article called 50 Easy Tips to Keep your Blog Search Engine Optimized, at http://btw73.blogspot.com/2007/11/50-easy-tips-to-keep-your-blog-search.html and linked to this post as a reference. Take a look!
    Thanks,
    Brian

  122. Nice article Matt. I will be applying this idea on my new marketing blog. Cheers :) And thanks Brian Whaley for the link. that was a great read infact.

  123. The power point presentation is awesome.. Thanks Matt..

  124. Now that was a superb collection of SEO tips for a blogger. Very good specially if you use a Google Blogger

  125. Found this via bloggingtips.com, useful tips!

  126. Hi Matt

    I am still learning. Over the last few days I came to your blog and you really have alot of great information. Well I guess I would not expect anything less. Thank you for playing such a great role in my learning process

    Have an abseolutely exseollent year.

  127. Matt you have done excellent job by providing these tips, but i think it need a bit more explanation in order to benefit the freshers.

  128. Hi Matt

    Have heard much about you but have never found this blog before!

    You give some very useful tips here, I have added this to my favourites, will give it a good read every now and again.

    My SEO left me therefore am on my own, so could do with all the help I can get. One thing you do say is 100% correct, anybody can do SEO as long as it is done the right way.

    Glad I found your site, i’m sure there will be plenty of more tips to be found. Wish me luck to get to the top!

    Asif

  129. Great tips matt !!

  130. Wow, very great tips. I will use this for my blog. Thanks Matt :)

  131. I was very impressed by your talk and it definitely helped out a lot. I especially liked how you went out of your way to send some great vibes David Klein’s way. I looked over his site and he’s done a great job with it.

  132. Thanks for the multiple links to summaries of your presentation. For us poor and over worked white hats, this is great information.

  133. Matt, great tips and info, I’m as everybody always have good things to learn from your blog.

  134. In the end it comes down to the old mantra about quality content. Thanks once again Matt.

  135. Matt, thank you for your concise presentation. As an admittedly semi-new-to-the-online-writing-world writer, it is very much appreciated. Bookmarked.

    ProCW

  136. Jon

    Hi Matt, just tumbled across your site when searching on google for underscore vs. hyphens in preparation for creating a personal url for my Twitter and LinkedIn pages. You say that hypens are best and that no spaces are worst for searchability, yet this website and both your Twitter and FriendFeed urls have no spaces… why?!

    Thanks
    Jon

  137. Hey Matt,

    As usual, your tips are simple and rich at the same time. It must be Ozzie’s supervision… Cheers!

  138. I think using cartoons is a wonderful idea, what fantastic thinking! Nive to hear you (Matt) are proud of the fact the chiropractor in question was inspired in such a way WTG!

    Matt Cutts – on the subject of cartoons would you or Google have any problem with a website using cartoon strips to advertise other Businesses?

    The reason I ask is because I have registered a TM in the UK and it is all about using some teddy bear characters called the Double T Ted’s to advertise products/services and of course the relevant URL’s on websites using five plate cartoon strips initially on TVWorlds forum as it is our busiest site as far as I am presently aware.

    I can show you an example of the plan on another site if you are interested in seeing what I have in mind and need or want to know more to answer properly?

  139. White Hat SEO Technique is for Long Term, but other Bloggers difficult to focused at this one, instead they are using of black hat seo.

  140. White Hat SEO is really just common sense in some ways. The problem is when you try White Hat and you still get nowhere or even worse when you are penalized with no explanation. There is no worse feeling than when you were ranking pretty good with a site that you work really hard at and it gets spanked. This punishment by the search engines is the tipping point that sends many webmasters over to the dark side of Black Hat.

  141. Oh well, many of SEOs cant able to get their websites to the top without any doing of dirty tricks, Matt Cutts teach us on how we can use Long Term and safe optimization Process….

  142. Hey Matt it seems that you are great as a writer :). Apart from jokes, it’s nice to read about such bloggers who are so innovative and passionate about their blogs. And now a days it’s must for every blogger to learn something about seo.

  143. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for such a lovely post. However, going through your presentation I have question to ask you. You asked the users for prevention of same content on different pages. In this regard, a certain question arises about submitting articles to different article directories. I think most of the people will be benefited with this answer on how to prevent duplicate content (if at all) by submitting an article to different article directory

  144. Think this is one great read.

    Some bloggers look only to short term, and want hits now, and dont care how they get them.

    Faster you get traffic, faster you loose it in my book.

    I also think that using short term tactics will give you a short term blog, and no return.

    Put the time in, and get the right content, get good content, and get a following, and then you’ll get some place.

    I have tried these get traffic fast methods, and they have ended up doing way more harm than good.

  145. I enjoy following what you have to say Matt. I wish you would have attended the denver wordcamp earlier this year. I like your style of writing and I hope you will continue to make more Matt Cutts videos! If you ever need a job, we’re hiring!

    denver seo, USWebCentral.com

  146. Great post Matt as always. Still shows the same old adage, the simplest ideas are always the most effective…its just the thinking of them which proves more difficult!

  147. Here are a couple tools to improving your SEO. Go to Spyfu and Keyword Elite that should be a good start in researching keywords in your niche. There are so many ways to really get ranking. I am a true believer in tools to help you get the job done.

    Let me know if you like more tips or tools.

    Later
    Vanjuan Vladimirov

  148. I dont understand why use .htaccess at wp-admin ??

  149. This is an awesome post! I really enjoyed the Wordcamp 09 presentation. I have picked up some great ideas from the two presentations. Thanks Matt.

  150. Guessing that a regular guy can achieve as much as a so called proffessional I attempted doing seo on my own site. I tried a number of seo’s who seemed to do very little! I have learnt quiet a lot and am now ranking on the first page for terms like cheap printing and even printing! Suprising seen as 6 months ago I knew……. NOTHING!

  151. munaz

    Hi Matt

    Thanks for sharing SEO tips.However, it seems these tips are in theory. I have always seen some of the websites artificially optimized fro SEO and Google displays top results on Ist page. For example, eleapsoftware.com is a website that sucks in its content and evaluate the entire site from SEO perspective you’ll get to know how these guys have used blackhat technique , keyword stuffing and double key phrases inside the URLs. I have brought this matter to Google many times yet to no avail.

    I always find such distracting website intentionality optimized to cheat on Google and the soc called Google gets cheated despite ifs and buts rules…..r u listening?

  152. Its a nice idea on to put notepad in creating on it. this maybe an easier way to create something like that, and it would help so much in your doing.

  153. If you are used with white hat techniques then that would be great for long term relationship with your SEO Projects. :) thanks Matt Cutts.

  154. If you are using black hat make sure that your seo client dont know what you are doing because once they will know your secret then you will get into trouble. If you are using white hat then no worries, you will make your seo world as happy :)

  155. Thanks for the free honest SEO tips not only for bloggers but also for webmasters and web publishers.

  156. Adding really valuable content, well thought off internal linking, site structure, AND a lot of external references to your site is the only way to rank consistently in the long run. Of course, if you do not have patience and the budget, do not even start!

  157. You are missing the big picture: http://codingwithcody.com/2010/03/ethical-seo/

    Don’t be blackhat, play by the rules.

  158. If people can’t make time to watch an hour long video, then SEO and blogging might not be good for them to spend time on.

  159. Go for White Hat. Not only because you’ll get a Google slap, but just because otherwise, you’re compromising your own work if you use Black hat techniques.

  160. White hat tactics are easier to use and tend to last much longer too. I never understood the point of black hat tactics. Your gains are short lived, and you spend all day trying to hide what you’re doing. If you devote the same effort to white hat tactics you’d be light years ahead.

  161. Yeah it definately helps to play by the rules. When Google changes their search algorithym even slightly, you are out of luck if you went the black hat way. Here is a great cartoon that illustrates this.
    http://goo.gl/info/obS00#week

  162. I would like to clear something up. I understand that article spinning, using software that really destroys the readability of the article – or just renders it not-understandable, is bad. But what about manually entering different possibilities of sentences/words/paragraphs to make several ways to say the same thing? I don’t think there’s anything morally wrong with that, as in this case – I’d be trying to reach out to as many article directories as possible – as not everyone follows the same ones. But they often check for plagiarism from others, hence the need for spinning.

    So is this penalized in Google? Isn’t this white-hat? If it’s readable, valuable content, etc.

    Of course I don’t simply use the raw data, I usually read through, make changes, etc. So as to keep it’s value.

    Please let me know!

  163. I’ve been researching a number of sites to see who links into them – having seen comments for a number of the sites I’m researching from this very blog post I thought I’d check it out.

    I’m curious Matt, do you review the people who comment on your blog to see if they are blog spamming as well? I was a little worried about putting my site in the website field but figured it was worth the risk to get an answer.

    You do great work and we appreciate it – we’ve been fighting the stigma of seo’s who are really just looking for the short cuts (and they subsequently hurt their client’s business) rather than working with you in order to help the results be more relevant so that people who are actually INTERESTED in our pages are finding the right content.

    Thanks! :)

  164. White Hat techniques are the only way to guarantee on going sales and traffic figures. There is no point in trying to play with Google, you just have to stick to the rules. When your competitors try to use Black Hat they will soon be tripped up by the Google Algorithm!

  165. hii Matt cutt one question for u

    here are many “SEO Gurus” that will tell you commenting on blogs can boost your pageranking a lot. These gurus are also the ones with page rank of 0.
    You might be asking this question to yourself, “Why should I even bother with commenting then?” Because you want to get noticed! Posting comments like “nice post!” will not get you noticed. You want to add value into the discussion, and that will get the author of the blog to notice you. Ask good questions or let the author know about something that was missing in the post. Those two are just basic ideas.

    is this true for Blog commenting

  166. In my view there are money makers and there are business builders. Those who use black hat tactics are just a flash in the pan. Those of us doing things the right way will stand the test of time.

  167. I was actually wondering the same thing as Paul Benoit above. I came across this particular post as I was searching the backlinks of a few of my client’s sites. This actually proved to be a great lesson in white hat SEO and I’m glad I stumbled upon it. I wish I would have found this sooner before I migrated a 580-page site over from underscores to dashes! Argh, oh well. Thanks for the solid 411.

  168. Although it’s an old post I guess the advice is more relevant than ever – especially after the recent Panda update…

  169. Frederick Gimino

    I think it is hysterical taht a black hat SEO has come to this forum to get a link. Wow Matt things must have really been cut in your engineering department. When site A lets call it “l8m.org” 301 redirects to site B with stealth DNS. And, then site B gets “authority links” from sites like “www.4caresolutions.com” and from comment spam like “www.blurty.com/talkread.bml?journal=tommysasu&itemid=387″ or the 500 other spam link blog comments that site B posted. I say oh just another black hate SEO trying to beat the index. But when site B lets call it “psychicreviewonline.com” gets a number 1 rank in Google. Something is truly awry in the search engineering department. These archaic black hat SEO techniques really need to be revisited, in a big way. Oh by the way it is truly ironic that site B posted about white hat Seo on this very blog post. I am surprised it did not burst into flames after that burner posted (lol).

    I am also sad to hear about the inabilty to flag spam links tha Black Hat SEO’s like to use to disparrigae reputable sites (You know the type GotLinks, Telalinks…). I tried to make sure I blocked any site like this in my .htaccess and in my firewall, but I am not sure that actually works to block incoming bots from following links to my site. Anyhow, good luck with the hiring Matt! I know I am not a perfect web master, but at least I try to play by the rules.

  170. There is a lot of controversy about whether Black Hat SEO is really “bad” in the ethical sense.

  171. This is very informative post. I like the way you defined the material and that makes your post more interesting and easy to understand. I would conclude my words by just saying three words “well done Matt”.

  172. white hat seo may take some time to show its results but it is more effective than black hat…

  173. Matt, thank you so much. You’ve helped me tremendously in formulating my own ideas for posts. I truly owe you! :) You should get a donation button.

  174. I love the whitehat methods, these are very good!

  175. There is a lot of controversy about whether Black Hat SEO is really “bad” in the ethical sense.

  176. Thanks Matt. Your blog helped me a lot.
    I built website for my start-up company (internet marketing and social media consulting). I installed blog and attached it to my company domain.
    With 3 months, I had been appearing in 1st page of Google results for some keywords. Now after almost year, most keywords searches show my website or blog within 1st page of results.
    My investment in the blog content paid its ROI quickly and effectively.

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