Cutts to the chase with Matt
Since 2009 Matt Cutts – the head of Google’s webspam team – has put out hundreds of videos offering insider tips on search & search engine compliance to webmasters. Below is a listing (from most recent to oldest) of every video he’s ever put out that adds something important to the reservoir of webmaster knowledge – along with key points from each video. This accounts for around 70% of all video he’s ever released. I have intentionally made the key points as brief as possible so as to best isolate the key take away message or emphasis from Matt to the question asked. I’d suggest watching all videos at some point as the nuance of how Matt responds also gives valuable insights into how important or not he feels certain elements are or are not that come up for discussion. The listing below though should be of highly concentrated worth to anyone who wants to learn as much about SEO & SEO best practices in as short an amount of time as possible.
There is some seriously valuable wisdom imparted below:
2014 – 28 videos
2013 – 54 videos
2012 – 29 videos
2011 – 67 videos
2010 – 83 videos
2009 – 64 videos
How can content be ranked if there aren’t many links to it?
With other ranking factors.
What happens when one page has two links to the same URL?
Same dilution of PageRank as other links.
What could the webspam team have done better?
Tackled paid links sooner. Not penalised low quality sites enough.
Will backlinks lose their importance in ranking?
With time, yes.
The importance of content in the body of a page
How does Google choose titles for search results?
- Short. 2. Accurate. 3. Relevant to query.
How can small sites become popular?
Add greater value than competitors.
What are some myths about SEO?
Ads impact rankings.
How does Googlebot handle content loaded via AJAX?
As the page loads.
How does Google separate popularity from authority?
Authoritative sites generally have more PageRank.
How does Google evaluate algorithmic changes?
Search Quality Raters.
How can I tell Google that multiple domains are related?
How can I tell if my site is affected by a particular algorithm?
Can I place multiple breadcrumbs on a page?
Yes, but Google will only pick up the first.
What should sites do with pages for products that are no longer available?
404 the page.
Is there a way to tell Google about a mobile version of a page?
Use responsive site or rel=alternate if you have a mobile site.
Can sites do well without using spammy techniques?
How does Google use Percolator, Dremel and Pregel?
Percolator = Incremental indexing. Dremel = MySQL for massive databases. Pregel = Graph problems.
What is the criteria for a “paid link”?
Deceptive or manipulative that is traded.
Should I focus on clarity or jargon when writing content?
Does Google use EXIF data from pictures as a ranking factor?
Is there a version of Google that excludes backlinks as a ranking factor?
Internally yes, externally no.
Should I correct the grammar of comments on my blog?
Should I build links using article directories?
How can an older site maintain its ranking over time?
Are pages from social media sites ranked differently?
Are results in different positions ranked by different algorithms?
How should I address a small duplicate content issue?
Should I use a separate IP address for each country-specific site?
Ideally, but different TLD’s are also a top indicator.
What should I be aware of if I’m considering guest blogging?
Always write unique content & don’t blog only one one website/blog over & over again.
How can a site recover from a period of spamming links?
Depends how serious violation was..
Is it a good to mix small bit of content from other sites?
How many links on a page should we have? Is there a limit?
Can I use the disavow tool even without a manual action on my site?
Is it necessary for every page to have a meta description?
No – Make them unique and focus on your important pages.
Is there an SEO disadvantage to using responsive design instead of mobile URLs?
Should I add schema.org markup to videos even if they’re on YouTube?
Does a site rank better if it has a lot of indexed pages?
Is there a difference between the “strong” and “b” tags?
How can I guest blog without it appearing as if I paid for links?
Should webmasters focus on more than just rankings?
Is redirecting users by location spam?
Why isn’t my site’s PageRank changing?
Public Pagerank isn’t updated all that often.
Should I use rel=”nofollow” on internal links to a login page?
Internal links should not use rel=”nofollow”.
Does Googlebot care about valid HTML?
Will having the same ingredients list for a product as another site cause a duplicate content issue?
It can do so add unique content.
Will having a site available on both IPv4 and IPv6 cause duplicate content?
What should a site owner do if they think they might be affected by Panda?
Have high quality content on your website that people will find of value.
Can nofollow links hurt my site’s ranking?
Does Google take action on automatically generated pages that provide no added value?
Is page speed a more important factor for mobile sites?
Should I add rel=”nofollow” to links that are included with my widget?
Should I use ccTLDs for sites not targeted to those countries?
How does Google treat hidden content which becomes visible when clicking a button?
If you’re not trying to stuff hidden text in there then don’t worry about it, it’s a normal thing on today’s web
How does required duplicate content (terms and conditions, etc.) affect search?
Google appreciate that sites need to use a certain amount of boiler plate content.
If I have 20 domains, should I link them all together?
If my site goes down for a day, does that affect my rankings?
How has query syntax changed since voice search has become more popular?
If I write about another article, where should I link to the original source?
Google prefers a source link to be near the top, but anywhere in the article is ok.
Does using stock photos on your pages have a negative effect on rankings?
Why does Google show multiple results from the same domain?
If the site has multiple pages that are a really good match for the query.
What’s the latest SEO misconception that you would like to put to rest?
Does linking my two sites together violate the quality guidelines?
Should I add an archive of hundreds of thousands of pages all at once or in stages?
Will multiple internal links with the same anchor text hurt a site’s ranking?
Can I buy a domain that used to have spam on it and still rank?
If my web host has a lot of spammy clients, will that influence my site’s ranking?
How can a legitimate business compete online?
Focus your content and improve your site
If a site linking to mine gets caught selling links, what happens to my site?
Link null & void.
Where do you see Google Search 10 years from now?
Does Google still need text to understand my site?
What does Google think of single-page websites?
Will Google suspect that useful links on our site are paid?
Should I use pushState to update my URLs instead of HashBang to manage Ajax navigation?
Is WordPress Good for SEO?
Does Google use a set standard for manually removing webspam?
If I use a ccTLD, can I indicate my geographic location is not in that country?
Should I use the “autocompletetype” attribute on my web forms?
What percentage of PageRank is lost through a 301 redirect?
Does Google take action on sites that do keyword stuffing with phone numbers?
How many types of message does the webspam team send to Webmaster Tools?
Do you have any specific tips for news sites?
Can You Offer Negative SEO Advice?
Use Disavow tool.
Why do paid links violate Google’s guidelines but ads don’t?
Why might Googlebot get errors when trying to access my robots.txt file?
Maybe you’re cloaking. Use Fetch as Googlebot in Webmaster Tools to confirm
Do you think that “Search Engine Optimization” should be renamed?
Yes (Search Experience Optimisation)
How long does a reconsideration request take to process?
Does Google take action on spammy guest blogging activities?
When would Google show multiple results from the same site?
Can I fetch an https URL as Googlebot in Webmaster Tools?
Do human “quality raters” influence which sites are impacted by Panda?
Do AdWords customers get special treatment in organic search results?
Are reconsideration requests read by people?
How can I make the pages on my site unique?
If you can’t add value, don’t add pages
Does the use of schema.org markup create a ranking benefit?
Will my site’s ranking be hurt if I use HTTPS instead of HTTP?
Is there any point having a press release section that copies content?
What happens if I link to a good page that later becomes a low quality one?
OK if limited.
If I report the same news story as someone else, is that duplicate content?
Make sure you write the article yourself so it’s not the exact same article as others. Do another angle
How does Google view font replacement?
Is posting blog updates to Twitter considered a doorway?
How does Google search work?
Crawl. Sift. Rank.
Does Google take manual action on webspam?
Does PageRank flow through image links?
How can I send feedback to Google?
Which ranking signals do SEOs worry about too much?
Do you recommend using special characters in URLs?
How will Google treat new TLDs?
How much time should I spend on meta tags, and which ones matter?
Meta description yes. Meta keywords no.
How can I get Googlebot to notice a 301 redirect?
Googlebot finds it itself.
Did the last Google Dance come with update BART or Fritz?
Do URL shorteners pass anchor text?
How do we report a problem with our search results listings?
How is Google Public DNS data used?
How would a non-optimized site outrank a site which has done SEO?
Content & user experience.
Is there an advantage to using rel=”canonical” over a 301 redirect?
Will Google improve its crawling of AJAX?
There is a team working on it. In general Google can handle some AJAX
Can too many redirects from a single URL have a negative effect on crawling?
Under 5 is fine.
How can I identify causes of a PageRank drop?
Variety of causes.
If I buy AdWords, will that cause my algorithmic search rankings to rise?
Should I block Googlebot from crawling a dynamically generated calendar?
Do multiple links from one page to another page count?
Does / at the end of a domain make a difference?
Does Google treat .co as a generic TLD?
How can I be notified when my name is mentioned on the web?
Should I make up filename extensions to improve my rankings?
What is the ideal keyword density of a page?
Why don’t 404 pages disappear immediately from search results?
In case they come back.
Can I geo Target without a .com domain?
There are about 40 domains you could use that aren’t country specific
Geo-Targeting and Local Search
Does spelling and grammar matter?
What do you think about cloaking?
What does Google mean by trust?
Respectability & Quality.
Is Google panda affecting none English speaking countries?
Not yet (has since).
How can I optimize a PDF?
How does Google evaluate Page Speed?
Data from Google Toolbar.
Should I spend time fighting scrapers or improving content?
What are your thoughts on ranking reports?
Why aren’t paid directories treated the same as paid links?
Will I be penalized for hidden content if I have text in a “read more” dropdown?
Do you recommend article marketing as an SEO strategy?
How important is it to have keywords in a domain name?
If you were an SEO of a large company, what would you include in your 2011 strategy?
Site speed & social media.
Will Google penalize sites which only link using the nofollow attribute?
Can switching to HTTPS harm ranking?
Do robots follow links on a page which uses rel=”canonical” to point to a different page?
How much content should be on a homepage?
Is the same content posted under different TLDs considered spam?
Should I add nofollow to banner ads?
What is Google Caffeine?
What should I do if the “noindex” attribute doesn’t appear to be working?
Report via Webmaster Forum.
Will changing the code and layout of my pages while moving to new URLs affect their rankings?
Will showing recent posts on my homepage cause a duplicate content issue?
Show excerpt not full version.
Is SEO spam?
No it helps Google render better results.
Is serving Googlebot a transcript in place of a video considered to be cloaking?
Why do porn sites have lower PageRank?
Less good links.
How does Google handle pages with content that changes on each page load?
Crawls gets a snapshot.
Is there a way to indicate boilerplate content on a page?
Should internal links use rel=”nofollow”?
Can I tell Google about links to my site?
Can coding errors affect how a page is indexed?
Only if they impeded indexation. Generally no.
Can I flag spammy links to my site that I didn’t create?
No (not when video was published).
How do I change domain?
Is there a limit to how many 301’s I can use?
No but never use 5 on one chain.
When I change domains, how long should I leave the redirects in place?
Does Google recognize the difference between different meanings of a word in a query?
Is HTML validation important for ranking?
Is changing the language of page titles based on the user’s IP cloaking?
How does Google treat sites where all external links are no-follow?
Does Google still recommend 100 links or fewer per page?
When would someone use “noindex, follow” in a robots meta tag?
When are penalties lifted?
Can I specify the canonical of all of a product’s review pages as a single URL?
Does indexing a mobile website create a duplicate content issues?
How are site: results ranked?
Combination of factors.
Is comma a separator in a title tag?
Is Google able to crawl protocols other than http and https?
Is the time left before your domain registration expires an SEO factor?
Where is Google heading in the future?
More user focused.
Does Google use data from social networking/media sites in ranking?
How long does it take for rich snippets to appear?
30 days (about).
How does Google determine domain age, and is it important for ranking?
Can I tell Google not to display the date in my site’s snippets?
Why doesn’t the clickthrough data in Webmaster Tools match what I see in Google Analytics?
How can I explain to clients that rankings can’t be guaranteed?
Google says so. Just build a great site.
Does PageRank take into account cross-browser compatibility?
Should I block duplicate pages using robots.txt?
Are nofollow links irrelevant?
Only to search engines.
Does Google see automatically generated content as a bad thing?
Does the number of subdirectories in a URL affect its ranking?
Should I be worried about ad servers affecting my site’s speed and ranking?
How precise is the number of results in a site: query?
How can a site rank for keywords that aren’t anywhere on its pages?
Are there any SEO certification programs you are aware of?
Why doesn’t search query data in Webmaster Tools appear to match what I see when searching?
Does Google treat “brandname” and “brandname®” differently?
Will changing hosts cause any SEO concerns?
Is it better to have keywords in the URL path or filename?
How are sitelinks prioritized?
Using a formula.
Can a site’s downtime affect its ranking?
Can I use robots.txt to optimize Googlebot’s crawl?
Does the PageRank of Twitter profiles matter?
Yes, for profile. No for links.
Can I target a specific Operating System with AdWords?
Will adding my Twitter feed to my website increase my PageRank?
Should I remove widgets that slow page load speed?
If best for user.
Where do you see Google in 5 years?
Champion for users.
How can a photographer’s image-focused site gain PageRank?
With contextual text/data.
Can a purchased domain’s history affect its trust from Google?
What is the best way to check your own site for keyword rankings?
Search on Google.
Is PageRank calculated differently for very old domains?
Is it OK to sell links as long as you use the nofollow attribute?
How can a website compete using only white hat SEO?
Are Google SERPs the same on all browsers?
Should I use the nofollow attribute on internal links?
Should I serve Googlebot content-only pages?
How important is the regularity of updates on a blog?
Less important than quality.
What’s your opinion on “addon domains”?
301 to main site.
How much traffic do you think is generated by marketers searching for their own target keywords?
Will we see real-time results for site: queries?
Will using Google Analytics have a negative effect on my ranking?
How does URL structure affect PageRank?
What signals are used in ranking other than PageRank?
Is there such a thing as too many links?
Can you give us an update on rankings for long-tail searches?
There was Algorithm change (Mayday).
Why doesn’t Webmaster Tools have multiple-country targeting?
To avoid abuse/overuse.
Is Google Turning Into Microsoft?
How long does it take for Googlebot to re-crawl a page?
Every few days generally.
Is it important to offer an HTML site map to users?
Should I be worrying about load times?
Should I set state-level geographic targeting in Webmaster Tools?
Do pop-unders impact rankings?
Is a sale page duplicate content?
Only if more than two.
Can I exclude certain words from Googlebot?
Yes using robots.txt.
How do you see search working in 10 years?
How does a user’s location impact search results?
Refines when possible.
How many algorithm changes were made last year?
Should I use meta keywords tags?
What next for semantic search?
Deeper understanding of intent.
Why does Google offer SEO advice?
To improve the Internet.
Can a low quality website affect the ranking of other sites hosted on the same server?
What are effective link building techniques?
Controversy, research, ranking lists, tutorials…
Does Google remove the PageRank coming from links on pages that no longer exist?
Are there any drawbacks to including a list of ‘related posts’ under a blog post?
Would you accept a job at Bing?
Can I ensure Google always uses my meta description?
How can I get Google to index more of my Sitemap URLs?
Will generic product descriptions reduce the significance of my unique content?
Can we serve Googlebot a different page without ads?
Do tag clouds help or hinder SEO?
How many robots does Google use?
Between 25 and 1,000.
Crawling Google Trivia
If I use multiple versions of a phrase, would it be seen as keyword spam?
Not if its natural looking.
How can I add over 1,000,000 URLs to a Sitemap?
Use sitemap index that references many different internal sitemaps.
Can dofollow comments on my blog affect my blog’s rankings?
How can a video/image heavy improve its rankings?
Meta data, captioning, and tags.
Is it worth spending time on creating tags and categories?
How can I get my business well known online?
Does Google Analytics data impact rankings?
What’s the best screen resolution to design for?
Is the order of links on a page important ranking?
Is cross-linking websites bad?
What is the best way to implement breadcrumbs?
Reflect site hierarchy.
Is speed a bigger ranking signal than relevance?
How can I remove old content from Google’s index?
404 or robots.txt.
Can moving my website to “the cloud” harm my rankings?
Why would another page rank above a site’s homepage?
What to do if I don’t know why I’m penalized?
Should I link to all press mentions of my site?
Does the size of a website affect its authority?
Will Google personalize results based on IP location?
How would you run your own online marketing company?
Useful service that is transparent.
Does Google consider the URL of an image?
How are duplicate shopping pages with different currencies handled in Google?
Google’s show best version.
Will you provide information about algorithm updates?
We confirm them.
Can you benefit from content scraped from your site?
If they link to it.
Google does not use the keywords meta tag for ranking purposes?
It was abused.
Why doesn’t google.com validate?
Reduces download time.
Should I use pipes or dashes in my titles?
Will Google notify webmasters of violations of guidelines?
How should I link to a site that I have a personal relationship with?
Mention relationship in text around link.
How are spam reports prioritized?
By user impact.
What factors influence video results?
Query & authority/links
Are footer links less important than in body text links?
Yes, less important.
Why are .com sites ranking well in UK SERPs?
Could be best result.
HTML site map or XML Sitemap?
Which is better for searching: Google or Twitter?
Is Google doing away with the meta description?
How do meta geo tags affect search results?
Can a blogroll link affect a blog’s reputation?
How can I optimize my site cheaply?
Will I be penalized if my URLs all have the same sitemap priority?
Can the location of my web server affect how I rank on Google?
What’s the best way to move to a new CMS?
What’s the best way to check for links to my site?
Webmaster Tools or Yahoo Site Explorer (no longer exists).
Do dates in URLs of pages/posts imply fresh content?
Why do big brands rank so well?
What is Google doing to fight comment spam?
Does linkbait need to be a black hat technique?
How many pages can Google index from one site?
Will a “coming soon” or “under construction” page hurt my site?
How can I make sure Google indexes deeper pages?
Link to them from home page.
How can new pages get indexed quickly?
Can product descriptions be duplicate content?
Why is @ ignored in queries?
To prevent indexing email addresses.
Can I publish over 100 pages simultaneously?
Will DiggBar lead to duplicate content?
Will I get more traffic if I optimize images?
What determins the PageRank of a Twitter profile?
Why aren’t penalized sites told via Webmaster Tools?
They generally are.
Do site load times affect Google rankings?
No (changed later).
Is the order of H-tags important?
Will SEO exist in five years?
Yes. (well done!)
Has Google changed the importance it grants social media?
How do I optimize an e-commerce site without much content?
Are gaps in the HTML source bad?
Should you take out file extensions from URLs?
Should I tweak titles and descriptions to improve CTR?
Will spelling corrections become more common in search results?
What can you do after being hacked?
File reconsideration request.
What’s a good site structure?
Important pages near top/root/home page.
When did Google start shows “Did you mean” in search results?
Content or links?
Does keyword position in URL impact ranking?
A tiny bit.
Is redirecting a many domains suspicious?
More than one H1 on a page: good or bad?
No big deal but try not to.
Does anchor text carry via a 301 redirect?
Is Google favoring brands in search results?
Should big websites use rel=canonical on all pages?
They can do.
Can a few non-safe words stop my website from ranking in SafeSearch results?
What is Organic Search (SEO)?
Who is Matt Cutts?
Matt Cutts is head of webspam & the public interface between Google & the search engine optimisation community. He first joined Google in 2000 and programmed the initial version of SafeSearch.
Matt holds a PhD in computer graphics from the University of North Carolina. He also holds an MS from the same institution as well as BS degrees in mathematics and computer science from the University of Kentucky.