Is Matt Cutts your ally or foe? Do you feel like Google is constantly hunting your site for spammy practices? If you want to ride into the horizon on a white horse (and maybe even get the girl), then it’s time to make Google your friend. Here’s how.
Are You the Villain?
Matt is not exactly a vigilante, but he did set out (like so many others) to right a wrong with nothing but a healthy dose of righteous indignation and his weapon of choice (most prefer a sword). One way to tell whether you are on the good side of white-hat SEO or not is to put yourself into this fairytale.
Just ask yourself, who doesn’t love the character whose purpose is to dispense justice for the good of all?
Turns out, the answer is: some site owners and webmasters who are constantly on the run from Google algorithm updates. If you spend most of your time “working around” Google updates or recovering from them, you are probably using some spammy methods to attract visitors.
No one wants to end up like the six-fingered man. Fortunately, you can change your role in the story by shifting your ideology. If your motivation has previously been to optimize your site for search engines, then shift your focus to appeal to humans.
Matt himself has stated that his priority has always been users. Site owners and webmasters come second. So if A=B and B=C, then you can become Matt’s friend by becoming the User’s friend. (Yes, it’s a capital U.) You may be tired of hearing it, but it really is the first step. Focus on pleasing the user first and the search engine second. In other words, if you are buying spammy links, duplicating content, and over-optimizing pages with keywords, then stop.
Through the Swamp
So what should you be doing? Here are a few tips to help you navigate the tricky areas without spamming:
- Get unique, amazing content for your site, including an on-site blog. And do not duplicate content on your site. Humans are only interested in original, high-quality content on every page (and thus, so are the Google algorithms).
- Stop using guest blogging, or at least limit and parry off spam. This potential resource has been spammed too much and most paid links are not relevant to the users.
- Get more natural links to your site. Do this by having relevant content, intuitive navigation, and a responsive design. Humans recommend great sites to their friends.
- Your site absolutely must be mobile-friendly.
- Use 301 redirects as much as possible for broken pages or pages that have moved. Humans hate dead ends.
- Be social. Find out where your audience is, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, and what they are talking about. Set up your profiles and join the conversation. Provide links back to your site.
- Use keywords naturally on your site, but don’t overdo it. If it makes sense to include a key term in your URL, anchor text, or title, then fine. Humans use keywords to search, but what they really want is engaging and interesting information.
Can You Rush a Miracle?
These are just a few tips to get you started. Success takes time and investment. Be patient and stay on top of the latest updates, and your site will eventually stir with life. Remember, the idea is to stay on Google’s good side—even through algorithm updates—by already doing things that help users.