I have been working my way through the Google Webmaster Channel on YouTube. Google has some great webmaster resources and one of Matt Cutts’ videos really stood out.
The title of the video is “What are the top 3-5 areas where SEOs make the most mistakes”. Matt gives two truly excellent pieces of advice on how to improve your SEO which are just as useful now as two years ago when the video was made. While the subjects – keywords and metas are very beginner, the solutions which are given are very powerful and shouldn’t be ignored.
There’s a brilliant subtext to the video explored in this post. Some parts of SEO are seen as basic – eg. making your page content or titles relevant to what people are currently searching for.
On page SEO is all about tweaking your content to be as relevant as possible to your end user. These “basic SEO” practices can become far more advanced depending on how much time you have to invest on them.
For those of you who don’t know Matt Cutts is Google’s head of anti spam. He has a very strong working knowledge of how Google’s algorithm works and how to rank well.
What Keywords Should I Use?
Think about what the user is going to type and then include those words. So you don’t just want to say “mount everest elevation” you want to say “how high is mount everest.
The quote above is taken from the video below. In 2015 I would say that you need to forget about keywords – single words are becoming very competitive – and think about key phrases. The important point that Matt makes is that if you are writing to get ranked on search engines, you should write in a way that you expect your user to be searching.
Google uses a algorithm called LSI – latent semantic indexing – which is extremely complicated. To overly simplify what the algorythm does – your content is stripped of connectives and all the other short commonly used filler words. From what is left Google is able to tell what your page is about, the basic subject of your page and how relevant you are being to this subject.
While keeping this article simple LSI is just one algorithm that Google uses – or one part of their overall algorithm. The context and filler words you use are still important so when I am writing for a search engine I want to be using words that a user is searching with.
Accuracy is more important then density – don’t focus on keyword stuffing, focus on getting the right content for your audience. This nicely illustrates the point made in the introduction about ‘basic SEO’ only being basic if you want it to be.
One thing you can think about to get ahead of a trend is voice search. People are increasingly speaking to Google to get their results and this is a completely different style of search.
People ask questions in the first person. This means that you should be answering questions, like “what keywords should I use?” in the first person in order to rank better. A third person writing style less personal and often lowers conversions on page.
To give a more practical example: selling products and services. I could list my products and services, but I want to add value to a user if they found me through search.
Instead I can answer questions which I think that people searching for an SEO consultant might be asking – “what should an SEO consultant do on page?” By building my page with the end user in mind it should generate more traffic and sales than a useless generic page.
Test Your Meta Tags
Matt goes on to talk about page titles. Page titles are seen as one of the strongest on page ranking factors so I will avoid creating thin content by going over old ground. Even for absolute beginners it should be enough to say you need a relevant page title for a well optimised site.
The second great piece of advice in this video is to use the tools Google give you. Look at where you are getting your search engine traffic from and play about with your meta descriptions on these pages. Link your Webmaster tools to your Google Analytics so you can test different meta descriptions and see which encourage the highest click through rate with the lowest bounce rate.
Your meta description has a huge indirect effect on your SEO. If your meta description is accurate people who click on your page are likely to read the whole thing and may go on to follow other links and read more content on your site.
If your content is really good they may share it on social media or create links to it. The more accurate your meta description the more people read and the less people bounce. Basic stuff, but don’t forget that you have the tools to see your most searched pages and something as small as your meta description can have a huge effect on your SEO.
If you have time tweak away, it won’t harm your rankings as long as you record which titles, metas or pieces of content are best received by your readership.
These are two very basic SEO concepts that have been around for a long time, but they are still extremely relevant. They are easy to implement, powerful techniques that can have a great effect on your rankings. It is always best to listen to Google’s advice, often their algorithms are playing catch up with what they give as best practices, which is why I think a video from two years ago has such great content today.
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