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:

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

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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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  • http://printfirm.com/ Katherine Tattersfield

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

    I’ll stop thinking about link building when you start counting “great content” instead of backlinks.

  • George Fine

    The biggest SEO mistake is not to have a website. Have a good week folks:)

  • http://twitter.com/awkm_org AWKM

    Was hoping for some tasty insights and instead got the “captain obvious” list

  • http://twitter.com/SweepstakesMax SweepstakesMax

    completely agree. I could list so many sites that don’t deserve to rank high but do …

  • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

    Kind of sad that these needed to be said – especially the one about actually having the words on the page.

  • http://printfirm.com/ Katherine Tattersfield

    You read my mind. My first response when I read this was, thank you captain obvious! I think we fell victim to link bait.

  • Charl Norman

    This post is link bait in itself.. catchy title but zero substance.

  • http://www.fluence.co.za Arthur Charles Van Wyk

    Yikes. This was shared on Facebook by Danny Sullivan as Matt Cutts’ content, and when I get here I find something our 1-month old intern knows. OK you got me.

  • http://www.thinkbowtique.com/ melissa

    Have to say I took the bait too.

  • http://twitter.com/davidwattsAZ David Watts

    AdWords Keyword Tool says those 2 exact match queries received identical search volume. :)

  • Larry Lang

    One of the best ways i have found on how to improve your website is by watching Matt Cutts presentations.

    As far as link building, it is only a small part of the Google algorithm. I had a bunch of poor links pointing to my site, which hurt my pagerank. It is much easier t get bad links, then to get rid of them.

    We all hear content is king. Google places much emphasis on it. I try to add new content daily and also change content so Google can see the changes when it crawls the page.

  • T N

    So, should we take this article as a good sample of “useful content”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/samspeaks Sampath Kumar

    // don’t just write, “Mt. Everest Height” but write, “How high is Mt. Everest?” because that is how people search. //

    Seriously? Please tell me you are kidding me

  • http://ftc.gov/ MonopolizedSearch

    I agree with Matt Cutts when he states a top SEO mistake is “not having a website.” lol An example of thin content is Matt’s description of the top five SEO mistakes. Being fair, I understand he can’t reveal too much. But if not having a website is a SEO mistake he sees often, I really wonder what people are trying to optimize?

  • Steve Chavis

    ‘How high does Mt. Everest get you?’ probably gets higher rank

  • http://www.buddinggeek.com/ Abhishek

    You are so damn right @Katherune:disqus ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Clay-Adams/100000066094793 Clay Adams

    HA! You said it

  • http://www.mymobileinnovations.com/ Tasha

    Exactly what I wanted to say.. Biggest challenge with Google is to check the quality content. Its depend upon user’s requirements. For similar search query, there may be different motives of different users. So we cannot bind quality of content with only grammar and topics.

  • http://twitter.com/panixed JC

    Sad is the fact this was passed on 1033 times. Probably by people who got here, read the headline, and quickly passed this on to others in the organization, or to their own website without reading the article. Or people who actually learned that the first rule of SEO is having a website.

  • http://100dollerblog.blogspot.in/ Ideas

    Great insights….

  • http://www.facebook.com/seosemindia Pratik Joshi

    Indeed.. totally agree with you..

  • http://www.facebook.com/seosemindia Pratik Joshi

    Its all about to get attentions… with awesome title.. Matt already mentioned read 2nd points .. you will get an idea.. :)

  • http://www.joycegrace.ca/ Joyce Grace

    George Fine that was very funny :) The thing I notice though that most people make mistakes about are with duplicate content. For some reason people truly think it’s ok to copy other people’s work and just say “oh but I didn’t write this, so I’m giving the original author credit, excuse my copyright infringement.” But not only that, a lot of times the duplicate content issue is internal – using the same company description at the top of every page or something like that. I don’t get how people think that’s useful or a good thing to do…but I see it all the time.

  • http://www.digitalshiksha.com/ Sonu Pandey

    How people search that’s the only thing to be focus on because this is only way to present right content for the right people.

  • http://twitter.com/bonirulzz Boni satani

    crap…nothing new in it :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/charmis.pala Charmis Pala

    It’s not the count of the link build, its the quality once again, and google always will allow you to rank for QUALITY link building, i also agree that in all the categories google is not so powerful and many black hats are ranking too, but again great content should be published in a great way and that will give u great links as well….

  • http://twitter.com/nikhil_makwana1 Nikhil Makwana

    However, indirectly they are teliing us to go forward with Paid Marketings things.

  • http://twitter.com/nikhil_makwana1 Nikhil Makwana

    Agree with you, somehow Google says to build relevant back links, and in other way they say to use paid marketing things.

  • http://twitter.com/nikhil_makwana1 Nikhil Makwana

    Indeed

  • http://twitter.com/nikhil_makwana1 Nikhil Makwana

    In Video of Matt Cutts, he has said to give more priority to
    content and marketing as compare with Link Building. There was no more
    clarification to stop Link Building.

  • http://twitter.com/simoneperone Simone Perone

    (2) so true and so sad. 2013, we’re about to go on planet Mars but Google super computer network – after years of semantics research – is not able to correlate “how high” to “height” yet :-) Let’s float on exact match keyword research.

  • http://twitter.com/jwdlatif Jawad Latif

    Salute to Matt Cutts! Finally he revealed Top SEO Mistakes. *************************

  • http://twitter.com/seoteky jayson bagio

    Whaat? Eye popping — top five @_@

  • Mahendra Varma

    I do Agree with u matt that most of the webmaster do these mistakes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/seo.jaipur Seo Jaipur

    thanks Barry Schwartz , all 5 tips is very helpful who work in SEO industry

  • http://www.nazito.com/ Nazito Naz

    A friend of mine would say “IN YOUR FACE!”

  • http://twitter.com/GordonMaher2 Gordon Maher

    You hit the nail bang on the head.

  • Yogita Aggarwal

    Hm… Will keep these points in my mind for sure @Matt

    Doubt with 3rd point : No link building then how will we get Google PR for the webpage? just on the behalf of quality content ?

  • http://www.imintern.com/ Ameet Royce

    “….. think about compelling content and marketing”.
    You mean “think about compelling content and search marketing aka Adwords, right?”

    By the way, well said Katherine.

  • http://www.cpasitesolutions.com/ Brian O’Connell

    Just brilliant!

  • miadey

    Walmart outrank my site with one related page and hundred of thousand links!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ajosling Alex Josling

    You have an intern that is just 1 month old????

  • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

    The idea is this: If it is link-worthy content, people will link to it so you don’t need to go out and find “unnatural” links.

  • http://twitter.com/PeterPrasadSF Peter Prasad

    I’m tempted to only be found at Amazon and book stores. I tried to be every where at once, but lost my GPS.

  • http://twitter.com/PeterPrasadSF Peter Prasad

    Word thievery hurts. Wanta see my scars? On the other hand, I make new stuff everyday.

  • http://www.facebook.com/larry.stopa.3 Larry Stopa

    I wonder if Matt Cutts knows the current way to game Google for top organic search visibility. All you have to do is buy Followers on Twitter and Likes on Facebook.

    I came across this method while investigating a Blog Comment Spam that E-Power received with the text link “SEO.”

    Google “seo agencies” and “seo consultants” #2 and #1 respectively is marketleaderseo

    Those are brutally competitive phrases. Yet if you analyze the site, you will find it to be small with bland content. The Home page has a PR of 4. Nothing there to earn such lofty search positions.

    Check their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Their Facebook has 5,882 Likes from 3 posts. Their Twitter has 1,222 Followers from 5 tweets and follows 0. Two weeks ago it had over 77,000 Followers. You have to buy those kind of stats. The result is you are on the top of Google.

  • http://stitch-technologies.com/ Nicholas Alipaz

    True story!

  • Eryck Dzotsi

    Was yesterday that slow of a day in the SEO World? Nothing relevant to report?

  • Eryck Dzotsi

    It takes some serious guts to publish this post, so I tip my hat to Barry Schwartz

  • http://www.successstories.co.in/ Mousumi Saha Kumar

    So link building is dead? Will it harm a blog if it gets hundreds of social mentions and shares?

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