You probably haven’t heard of Matt Cutts but I’m sure he’s influencing at least a small portion of your online marketing strategy. Matt is the head of Google’s Web Spam team. His team finds new ways to keep bots, splogs, spammers, and other nasties out of Google’s search results. He’s the most knowledgeable source of practical insights on what will work and what will get you penalized by Google.
I’ve been reviewing his online pronouncements to unearth search strategies for content creation, blogging, and curation. Normally, I squirrel these insights away for testing and discussion in the Content Toolbox, but they are so important to your success that I decided to share them here now.
I used ShortCutts.com and a variety of Google searches to compile a list of 7 blogging and content marketing insights you can use.
#1: How Important is the frequency of updates on a blog
Matt has excellent perspective that looks at the expectations of readers and Google.
For readers, it’s best to have fresh content for them whenever they visit the blog. I recommend once a week. On the other hand, Google is looking for content that provides unique value to its searchers. So spending time to craft a well-researched article will help you get more long-term traffic from Google.
I recommend creating original evergreen content that targets your most important keywords. These articles should be longer than usual (+1,000 words), sprinkled with excellent photos and illustrations, along with several quality outbound links to relevant information on your blog our a complementary site.
#2: What should I be aware of if I’m considering guest blogging
Matt isn’t a big fan of “guest” anything. Accepting guest posts is a particularly dicey proposition for blogger. There are just too many malicious, dumb, or lazy blogs out there that could hurt versus help you. Matt encourages you to consider the blog’s editorial quality.
Does the site you’ve targeted publish consistently high quality posts? Have they policed their guest submissions to insure they maintain a higher editorial standard? You’ll find that many blogs don’t have the quality or audience needed to justify guest blogging. The ones that do have extremely selective guest posting standards (as they should)
#3: How can content be ranked if there aren’t many links to it?
This is a useful question for those just starting their blogging plan. It addresses a chicken-and-egg dilemma that many face, I need links to rank well on Google, but the best way to to get links is to rank well on Google!
Matt punts this one. Google relies heavily on inbound links to determine your page’s relevance. They assume that a link to your page is a vote for your page’s usefulness. Without links, Google looks at the content of the page, specifically keyword occurences and other factors that SEO guru’s call “signals.” Simply, smart keyword research and on-page optimization are your best options. You should also execute a good, Google-friendly, linkbuilding campaign to get more links to your posts. Check out Brian Dean’s excellent guide “Link Building: the Definitive Guide” to get started.
#4: Should you accept guest blogging posts?
Matt has taken a “don’t do it” stance on accepting guest blog posts. His viewpoint is shaped from the spam, link-building, attempts made by lazy marketers looking to cut corners. He believes that you shouldn’t publish a guest post unless you can personally vouch for the writer. This is great advice. We’ve only published maybe a dozen guest posts on Pushing Social out of the 700 posts on the site. Most of these guest posts were requested by me from someone that I trusted. That was the only way I could insure quality.
As time goes on, I suspect that guest posting cease to be a viable tactic. Many have just hired top writing teams to produce the high-quality, high-volume content they need to support their content marketing strategy.
#5: Is WordPress the best blogging platform?
Sort of. Matt Cutts diplomatically shares his praise with Google’s Blogger tool. But reading between the lines we see his affinity for the open-source blogging powerhouse as a “fantastic choice.” Specifically WordPress handles most of the chores for search engine optimization. Since SEO is enough to bore or scare most people, tool’s proactive SEO features make it a no-brainer for blogging.
#6 Top tips for bloggers
A review of all of Matt’s content and marketing advice surfaced several key points:
Post new content often
I’ve mentioned this several times. It’s no longer a debate of quantity vs. quality. You need both. The more quality content you publish, the more likely your content will be indexed and ranked by Google.
Blogs are informal. Having a plainspoken, conversational will help you stand out to readers. While jargon is important for many niches, pay attention to clearly and naturally getting your point across.
Use analytics for ideas
I bet there are at least 50 good to excellent blog post topics that you’ve overlooked. We could find them in about 30-minutes by looking at your analytics. If you haven’t already, install Google Analytics, and start reviewing your numbers.
Promote old content
You have a great source of ongoing traffic, If you’ve been consistently blogging for more than a year. Repromote old posts to bring in new traffic Going back and updating old posts with fresh information and reposting is another effective strategy.
#7 Best Ways to optimize your WordPress install for SEO
This is a new suggestion for me. I’ve never viewed categories from a search engine’s point of view. It looks like categories are another way to use a valuable keyword.
Permailinks = URL in WordPress speak. Permalinks that describe your content are better than cryptic computer-speak that no one can immediately recognize. The permalink for this post is pushingsocial.com/matt-cutts-blog-tips. The bold portion of that URL is the portion that Matt is referring to.
The first step to useful and descriptive permalinks is to change your permalink setting in WordPress to ‘post name’. The next step is to manually edit your permalink before publishing your blog post.
Content Toolbox members can view a video on how to set your permalinks here. Not a Toolbox member? Register here for free.
Simple and effective design
The design trend for blogs and websites emphasizes simplicity. Cutts agrees with this direction recommending a uncluttered design that makes it easy for readers to find what they want. This is one reason why we will be dropping our sidebar here at Pushing Social.
Check for broken links
Search engines hate broken links because they annoy their users. But, broken links are hard to find and detect if you run a large website/blog. A simple change can break a link and the link can go unnoticed until someone complains. Periodically fixing 404-Not Found pages is a good way to keep your blog posts and pages indexed.
Your Next Step
Search engines will be your top traffic source. Use Matt Cutts’ insights to tweak your blog for the best rankings. Remember to join The Content Toolbox to access our growing list of blogging and content marketing tools – for free. Register here.