Matt Cutts is the head of the webspam team at Google where he specializes in search engine optimization (SEO) issues. He is known in the webmaster and SEO community for applying Google’s Quality Guidelines. Before working in the Search Quality group at Google, Matt worked at the ads engineering group and on Google’s SafeSearch. The point is, unlike many “SEO Professionals” who only claim to know what they’re doing, Matt Cutts is well respected because he really does!
Matt didn’t really say too much specifically about WordPress, but the few things he did say are worth mentioning. First, he said that WordPress is a “great choice” for SEO because it solves “80-90% of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)”. He said that’s why he uses it and also why he needs so few plugins; Akismet, Cookies for Comments, FeedBurner FeedSmith, and WP Super Cache to be exact. That’s pretty amazing! He also mentioned that he uses /%postname%/ for his WordPress permalink structure, which I think is pretty standard among many SEO professionals. That’s really about all he said that was specific to WordPress, but he definitely has plenty more to say.
Matt held up a SanDisk Cruzer Micro USB Flash Drive (I had an almost identical one in my pocket) and asked people what they would search for if they were looking for that particular item. The responses were so numerous that I can’t list them all, but they included Sandisk, thumb drive, flash drive, memory stick, usb drive, cruzer, usb memory, etc. The response was overwhelming, but Matt had a point. Your potential clients do not always search for the same key words you search for. Use terms everyone would use to find your content, avoid jargon and overly technical or complex terms, and use the Google Keyword tool to find alternative keywords.
He also mentioned that the key to SEO is building reputation. How do you gain a reputation? Matt says you need to be interesting and update often. He even had a secret on how to do that, “only write about things you care about”. It’s pretty simple, but he said that you’ll get better at writing with practice, but you’ll only keep at it if you like what you’re writing about. He also recommended applying the “Katamari Philosophy” (yes, he’s addicted to the game), which he says is “start small, in a niche, and grow big slowly”.
He also tried to cover a lot of the basics, such as using Google Webmaster tools to fix all your 404s. Someone might be linking to your site and you’re getting no benefit because it’s going to a 404. Fixing these is like getting free links. He also advocated checking Google Analytics to make sure you know what topics are popular, so you can leverage that. Avoid shortcuts and scams, if it looks too good to be true it is.
He even threw in a few slightly unrelated things. Such as taking a stand on audio podcast vs video. He jokingly said that you should put your face on hot or not and do video if you rate 6+ and audio if you rate 5-. After the crowd stopped laughing he explained that video was the way to go, but he left us all wondering how exactly that fit with SEO.
Basically, if you missed it, you really missed out. I’ve been told that all the sessions from WordCamp will eventually be on WordPress.tv and this is one you should definitely check out. Make sure you have a notepad handy when you do, or you’ll end up watching the video over and over! Thank Matt (no, not THAT Matt) for the great presentation.