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Google’s SEO Primer Leads Into SIPA Conference Workshop

This content is republished from SIPA.  You can visit their site at http://www.sipaonline.com/
By Ronn Levine

The SIPA 2013 Conference, June 5-7, in Washington, D.C., will have two Pre-Conference Workshops this year, a Data Bootcamp led by Megan St. John of InfoCommerce, and SEO Basics & Beyond: Keyword Research & Campaign Management, led by Don Nicholas and Norann Oleson of Mequoda. (Early-bird pricing ends in less than one week!)

As a sort of primer for that latter workshop, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, recently listed his top five SEO mistakes that “webmasters” make—in a video. Webmasters seems to be one of Google’s favorite words—the url for their site to help you with data, tools and diagnostic is www.google.com/webmasters. Cutts admits that what he gives is not “super advanced”—it’s actually pretty basic—but it is good to hear it from Google itself. And something may just reinforce an important notion for you.

1. “Make it crawlable,” he said. Actually took me a while to figure out that last word; it’s not one I hear a lot. If you haven’t checked your website pages recently to make sure people can reach them easily, you should. Surf around, Cutts says, and make sure it’s all searchable.

2. Include the right words on the page. “Think about what the user is going to type and include those words,” Cutts says. “You don’t want to just say Mount Everest elevation; you want to say, how high is Mount Everest because people are going to type how high is Mount Everest? And not just including the right words on the page; if you’re a restaurant, you should include the menu. Put it in plain text, not just a pdf, or make sure it is extractable somehow.”

3. “Think about not link-building, that limits you to a certain mindset,” Cutts warns. “Think about compelling content and marketing. As soon as you think my job is to build links for search engines, you’re really cutting off a lot of avenues, things like talking to newspaper reporters, for example. First make something compelling, a reason why they really want to use your website. Then think about the broader area of marketing; that can include billboards, paying for advertising; but it can also include clever guerilla marketing, reaching out to people in the community. So I wouldn’t put too much of a tunnel vision focus on just links. I would think, what can I do to market my website, get more well-known, within my community or more broadly, without only thinking about search engines?

4. Think about the title and description of your really important pages. “We’ve said, make sure you have the right words on the page; but you really should pay attention to your home page,” Cutts reminds us. “What is the title there? If you bookmark it, are you going to have users able to later find exactly what it was? Or is it going to say untitled? Is it going to say something people won’t even be able to find later? Likewise, your description can sometimes determine what shows up in your snippet. And that determines whether people will be enticed into clicking. You can run different tests, experiment with different copy. It might not be worth it for every single page on your site; I know that might be a lot of work. But for the high-traffic sites, you want to not just create a great experience, but you want to make something people will actually click on when they see it in the search results. Something that lets them know you’ll have the answer they’re looking for. Something that makes them understand this is a good resource.”

5. People make the mistake of not using Google’s webmaster resources, Cutts says.“Google provides free webmaster tools at www.Google.com/webmasters. We provide a blog you can read, lots of webmaster videos, ton of information out there. Explore that space.”

And if you haven’t yet already, sign up now for SIPA 2013 and the SEO workshop.In Don Nicholas, you will be learning from the best. There will also be a roundtable session on search engine marketing and many other sessions that talk about SEO.