If you caught my post before the weekend you know Matt Cutts was running a grab bag where webmasters and site owners could ask seo related questions. Matt’s answers came in the form of three videos that he posted to Google Video.
Since Matt was kind enough to allow the webmasters to embed the videos into their sites I had thought of having them here, but another Matt from Pro SEO beat me to it. Since I consider him one of my online friends and since Matt has sent traffic my way in the past I’ll just share a little link love and point you his site for the viewing
The videos are about 6 minutes each and if you watch them for no other reason you can at least get to see what Matt Cutts looks like and hear him speak. Sadly for me Matt didn’t answer some of the questions I would have liked, but I was glad to see he mentioned a few things I’ve been advising for awhile now.
In answer to the second question on the first video, which asked for some general guidelines to increase your sites visibility Matt talked about something I think far too many site owners overlook. Matt’s advice is to start by building a site that is easy for search engine spiders to crawl and one that has useful and interesting content. Seems like obvious advice yet so many site owners fail to do either.
Build A Spiderable Site
All that code behind your pages really is important. It’s easy to think as long as a site looks ok everything is fine, but all too often that code puts up barriers to getting crawled. If your site doesn’t get crawled it doesn’t get indexed. If it doesn’t get indexed it’s probably not doing too well in search results.
It can be very tempting for small business owners to use a web design template or hire the most inexpensive web designer to launch their site. You do get what you pay for though and many of those templates and low cost designers lack experience with seo. I’ve seen template coded so poorly that no spider will ever get beyond your home page. Sadly I’ve seen the same from many designers charging both low and high prices. Your web designer doesn’t need to be an expert in regards to search engines, but you should either look for one that does understand the basics or have an seo consult on the design.
Most of the time when someone first approached me for seo work the first thing I suggest is rebuilding the site from scratch. It’s not easy to hear that shortly after paying for your site it needs to be recoded if it’s going to succeed in search engines. It may cost a little more upfront to have a site coded with seo in mind, but it’s going to be less expensive in the long run.
Content, Content, Content
I can’t say enough about having useful and interesting content. Having quality content means more than a few brochure pages about you and your company and the services and products you offer. Quality content is about having something that draws visitors into your site and keeps them returning. As far as seo is concerned all those pages of content will give you more opportunities to target a different set of keyphrases and will also give other sites a reason to link to you. Both of which are going to be keys to success with search engines.
I’ll use this site as an example. Sure I have all the basic pages a site should have. There’s the ‘About’ section of the site and sections for each of the services I offer. However there’s no reason for me to expect people are going to keep coming back to read those pages. Someone deciding whether or not to hire me will probably come back a few times to compare what’s on those pages with what’s on similar pages of another site, but there’s no reason to think they’ll keep coming back over and over again to the site for that content.
This blog on the other hand does give people a reason to check in every few days. Hopefully it’s quality content, but it certainly gives those people that think it is a reason to revisit the site. It also gives the site many opportunities to compete on a variety of keyphrases that it otherwise couldn’t. Many posts here get found in search engines with little to no links pointing at them because they can focus on keyphrases in the longer search tail. Hopefully those that find a post in a search engine find enough to come back for other posts and maybe even go on to become clients at some point. Even if they never become clients perhaps they’ll link to the post because they believe their visitors will also find it useful.
That’s not to imply that good content can only be found in a blog. Content may take the form of a useful tool that those in your industry find helpful. It could even be some links to other quality sources. It could be a chart comparing the features and benefits of products in your industry or reviews of those products. Goof content might be a tutorial helping people understand your industry better. Whatever industry your business is in you can be sure there are people who don’t know as much about it as you do. Share some of that knowledge.
Do you sell digital cameras? Tell me about what I should look for when purchasing one. Do your services include small business accounting? Teach me how to keep better records for my business and offer some tax advice. Just give me some reason other than buying something to come back to the site and to let other people know why they should visit the site.
So check out what Matt has to say and pay particular attention to what he gives as general guidelines to gaining visibitly for your site. Sometimes the best seo advice has less to do with optimizing a given page, but more about making sure that page is interesting and coded to allow search spiders to find it.