What are the top 3-5 SEO areas where webmasters make the most mistakes?

What are the top 3-5 SEO areas where webmasters make the most mistakes? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

Today’s question comes from Boca Raton, Florida. Warren asks, what are the top three to five SEO areas where webmasters make the most mistakes? How can we do better on those? Really good question. And a lot of people might expect super-advanced stuff. But I’m going to give you what the biggest mistakes are by volume. This is just– Wiz and I– Wiz is recording this– we were brainstorming for a couple minutes before we made this video. The biggest mistake is not making your site crawlable or not having a domain at all. There’s a ton of businesses who don’t actually have a website. If you have a website or have it locked up where people can’t find it all that easily, that’s a big problem. So just click around on your website. Make sure that you can reach the pages on your site by clicking on regular links, ideally in a text browser. But really just try to surf around and make sure you haven’t hidden the good content away somewhere where it’s really hard to find. The next one is include the right words on the page. Think about what the user is going to type, and include those words. So you don’t want to just say “Mount Everest elevation.” You want to say words like “how high is Mount Everest” because people are going to type “how high is Mount Everest?” And Wiz had a really good point, not just including the right words on the page but thinking about if you’re a restaurant, include the menu. Put it in plain text, not just a PDF. Or make sure that it is extractable into plain text somehow. Put your business hours on the page. From going around– and I know that he’s been talking to a ton of people on, get American businesses online and even get other businesses around the world online– the biggest mistakes are not having a website, not making it crawlable– that’s sort of one– and then not using the words on the page, not describing what it is that you do, not including what the user’s going to search for. The next thing, think about not link building. That limits you to a certain mindset. Think about compelling content and marketing. As soon as you think, my job is to build links for search engines , you’re really cutting off a lot of avenues, things like talking to newspaper reporters, for example. Whereas if you think about, OK, first make something compelling, some reason why they really want to use your website. And then think about the broader area of marketing. That can include billboards. It can include paying for advertising and all that sort of stuff. But it can also includes clever guerrilla marketing. It can include just reaching out to people in the community. So I wouldn’t put too much of a tunnel-vision focus on just links. I would try to think instead about, OK, what can I do to market my website to make it more well known within my community or more broadly, without only thinking about search engines? Another good point is to think about the title and description of your really important pages. So we’ve said, make sure you have the right words on the page. But you really should pay attention to your home page. What is the title there? If you bookmark it, are you going to be able to have users later on find exactly what it was? Or is it going to say “untitled”? Or is it going to say something that people won’t even be able to find later? Likewise, your description can sometimes determine what shows up in your snippet. And that determines whether people will be enticed into clicking. So you can run various tests, experiment with different copy for the meta description. And it might not be worth it for every single page on your site. I know that that is a lot of work. But for the very high-traffic sites, you want to not just create a great experience, but you want to make something that people actually click on when they see it in the search results. So something that lets them know you’re going to have the answer that they’re looking for, something that makes them understand this is a good resource. And that would actually be my last thing, not using webmaster resources. So Google provides free Webmaster Tools at google.com/webmasters. We provide a blog you could read, lots of webmaster videos, one of which you’re watching. But we go to search conferences. We talk to people online. Being in other search engines also provide a lot of free resources. You can look at links in blekko, all sorts of stuff like that. There’s a ton of information out there on the web. And there’s a ton of people who are interested in SEO, are interested in Search, and are happy to talk about your website and give you feedback. So you could start on our Webmaster Forum. But basically explore that space because it’s almost like an iceberg. There’s a lot of resources in our HTML documentation, digging through google.com/webmasters. And that can really help improve your site. So just to recap, make sure that your site is crawlable, which includes having a domain name in the first place. Include the right words on the page. Include the words that people are actually going to type. Think about compelling content and marketing, not just link building. Think about a title and description of your important pages. And finally, be aware, or investigate, the free resources that are out there on the web because they can really help you improve your site, which is going to make you more money and make your users more happy. Hope that helps.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


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