The Top Five SEO Mistakes According To Google’s Matt Cutts

matt-cutts-2012In a recently published video, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, listed off the top five SEO mistakes webmasters make.

Matt said these are not the most devastating mistakes, but rather, the most common mistakes.

(1) Not having a website or having a website that is not crawlable is the biggest mistake he sees.

(2) Not including the right words on the page. The example Matt gave is: don’t just write, “Mt. Everest Height” but write, “How high is Mt. Everest?” because that is how people search.

(3) Don’t think about link building, think about compelling content and marketing.

(4) Don’t forget to think about the title and description of your most important pages.

(5) Not using webmaster resources and learning about how Google works and what SEO is about.

So, those are Matt’s top five SEO mistakes. Here’s his video:

YouTube Preview Image

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Features: Analysis | Google: SEO | SEO: General


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Stephan Becker | GPI

    Damn – I knew something was missing in my SEO approach… a website!

  • Colin Craft

    This guy is paid by The Google to spread disinformation about its algorithm.

  • Larry Stopa


    Does that mean you approve of cheesy SEO tricks to gum up Google search results? Gaming Google means that my clients, who we work hard for to EARN search visibility through strong content and Social Media Marketing programs, will have lower search results. I want fair play on Google, not cheap tricks buying Like and Followers.

  • David L. Morehead

    That is what the i.d says !

  • Ginger Clark

    Did you hear that ITT Educational Services Inc. is currently seeking an SEO Specialist? Location: Carmel, IN

  • Adam Helweh

    No it will not harm it. It will benefit it. He didn’t say AVOID link building. He suggested that it not be your focus.

  • vinodh

    Agreed. These are most important. Though I am not an seo expert I learn to a greater extent practically by writing blog posts and watching incoming search requests.

  • Nathan

    I guess my SEO strategy really should include a web site. Huh. Thanks.

    …..And I can’t believe this has already 1000+ tweets. People, people….it’s content quality, not links. Didn’t you hear @matt? Quit retweeting useless content.

  • Yogita Aggarwal

    hm.. me agree.

    The overall conclusion about SEO is “Just to focus on readers, serve them the most informative content with unique information”.

  • strangerchat

    Could not have said it better.

  • Kath

    Oh wow, total link bait. Seriously – “have a website”? That’s seriously one of his tips…? Why not go a bit further with “Own a PC or laptop computer”?

  • Joyce Grace

    That’s really interesting. You should blog about it and expose the people who gave you those scars. Everyone should know!

  • twinsfan1100

    The biggest SEO mistake is not directly giving Matt Cutts some kind of kickback.

    Years ago, when Google was using PR (PageRank) as a bigger part of the ranking algorithm, a cottage industry of selling links from web sites with a high PR came into being. Websites with a PageRank of 8 would sell off links from their site for hundreds of dollars per link per year. A link from a site with a PR of 9 might be worth a thousand dollars per year. Prominent in the industry of selling links was the O’Reilley publishing company, the publisher of IT books. O’Reilley had dozens of websites with a PR of 8, maybe hundreds. Links from those sites were quite expensive.

    When Google started hearing reports of the process of selling links with high PR, Google came to the correct opinion that selling links from high PageRank sites jeopardized the quality of search results, and adopted a policy of banning sites that were caught selling links. At the time, Matt Cutts prominently claimed to be a member of FOO (Friends of O’Reilley) in which the members of FOO would have their own little outings of camping and fun and comradery with Tim O’Reilley.

    Right under the nose of Matt Cutts was Tim O’Reilley, the FOO mentor, BLATANTLY selling links on hundreds of sites with impunity, while lesser Google subjects were being banned for the same practice of selling links.

  • twinsfan1100

    There is no substance to this page, but it does have a link from LinkedIn.

  • Kate Toon

    Love your work guys, but your writing style is clunky as hell!

  • Michael DeMutis

    @Katherine Tattersfield is correct. Content seems to be ignored by google. I worked my butt off for 18 months on a site and didn’t get the results I needed. Forces people in to the pay to play realm…

  • Shell Harris

    I’m appalled that this has 617 +1s. This is really worth sharing to that level? The comments were far better reading than this post. Shame on SEL.

  • Gargarious

    If you dont care about backlinks why do you have the penguin updates anyway? Ridiculous to go out public and blatantly ill-advise Mr. Cutts.

  • SEO Professional

    High quality back-links are just as important as content, when you find the right mixture ratio you hit the jackpot! Nice post!

  • Caroline Creasey

    This isn’t 5 mistakes, this is 4 mistakes and a link to somewhere that says, ‘Do all these hundreds of things and don’t do all these other hunderds of things,”

  • Business Oxygen


    Build a website to provide valuable content for people and not for search engines.


    Local SEO Expert

  • Lisa Robin

    Tell us something we don’t know – number one SEO mistake ‘no website’ surely you would be a pretty awful SEO working with no website?!

  • Chevere Ganga
    Anuncios clasificados Colombia

  • HireAWiz

    I totally agree with the blog, however, it’s about we should
    get quality back link, stop thinking of link building and growingly focus on updated
    strategy and user requirements

  • Robrick Guarin

    SEO = great content + constant promotion

  • Insight247

    Great, concise breakdown of Mr. Cutts recent video. I’m heartened that we haven’t made any of those 5 mistakes, but we’ve got a lot of hard work in front of us to cultivate our rankings.

    We’re ranked 21st on Google for our primary keyword. Eek!

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