Ranking The Top 5 SEO Mistakes…With Help From Google’s Matt Cutts

In an April 29 video blog post on the Google Webmaster Help YouTube page, Google’s guru and webspam team leader Matt Cutts addressed the following two-part question from a viewer:

“What are the top 3-5 SEO areas where webmasters make the most mistakes? How can we do better on those?”

Never one to take shortcuts, Cutts went on to list a full “Top 5 SEO mistakes” as he sees them. According to Cutts, this is what that list looks like, in order of commonality – or as Cutts terms it, “the biggest mistakes by volume”…

  1. Not having a website at all…or having a website that is not “crawlable”
  2. Not including the right words on the page
  3. Thinking about “link building” rather than compelling content and marketing
  4. Forgetting to think about the title and description of your most important pages
  5. Not using webmaster resources, especially not learning about how Google and SEO really work

Here at Amplitude Digital, we fully agree with Cutts’ Top 5 List. In fact, we’ve been cautioning against each of these commonly made mistakes ourselves for quite some time now. Both privately with our clients and publicly, at digital marketing conferences and here at the official Amplitude Digital blog.

And while this Top 5 may read like a list of “no-brainers” – and was vigorously if not creatively ridiculed as such by several commenters in a related post on SearchEngineLand – neither one of the top minds at Gargantuan Google nor us here at somewhat smaller (but rapidly growing) Amplitude Digital would feel compelled to make these points if we didn’t see these mistakes being made each and every day in the ever-evolving world of digital marketing and advertising. [push h=”10″]

Let’s take a closer look at each of these Top 5 SEO Mistakes,
shall we?

  1. Not having a website at all…or having a website that is not “crawlable”:

    The first part of this one might seem like an absolute “Duh!” moment, but as Cutts says in the video, there are still “a ton of businesses” that are somehow operating without a website in 2013. And many of those who DO have a site up and running haven’t taken the time and effort necessary to ensure that it offers at least a solid user experience. As Cutts properly notes, businesses today need to make sure their site is up…and good. And we’d even take it one step further, insisting that it is more and more imperative to not only have a website, but to also have a version of your site that is optimized and customized for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. In short, far too few companies have a viable mobile site – close to half of all companies are lacking in this area, and losing out on a LOT of business as a result. And they’re dragging their heels on this vital aspect of digital marketing and SEO in 2013 – even though it’s quite easy to accomplish. We can help show you how.

  2. Not including the right words on the page:

    As Cutts wisely and simply states in the video, you’ve got to write just the way people are going to search. “Think about what the user is going to type,” he advises, “and include those words.” The example he provides is not making the mistake of writing, “Mt. Everest elevation”…but rather accurately and actively asking, “How high is Mt. Everest?” Cutts went on to use the examples of a restaurant being sure to include an online menu and a business listing its hours of operation on its site. Cutts’ point about smart and wise word choice is obviously a strong one. Today’s consumer is more inundated with information than ever before, making it even more imperative to hit the right copy notes. We’d add that it’s important to establish consistency with your brand voice across ALL channels. In other words, the same verbiage that you use on your website’s home page should be used on every other piece of your brand’s marketing communications – from any flyers or brochures you may print to your Twitter page and other social media executions. We’d also invite you to learn more about how to use social media in general and Twitter in particular by downloading our FREE eBooks today.

  3. Thinking about “link building” rather than compelling content and marketing:

    As Cutts puts it in the video, it’s wise to, “First make something compelling, and then think about the broader area of marketing.” We could go on and on about this topic. In fact, we have been known to do so in this blog before. In short, it’s absolutely imperative to always remember that you should be writing real content for real human beings who are doing the searching – not the computerized search engines themselves. As part of that practice, you’ll want to think less about “getting links”…and concentrate more on “getting coverage.” The more compelling content you write and post – and the better you promote it – the more people will feel compelled to share it and link back to you. This is far from Rocket Science, obviously. But you might be surprised how quickly many people and companies abandon this logic now in a mad dash to “get links.”

  4. Forgetting to think about the title and description of your most important pages:

    Cutts suggests in the video that you should, “Think about the title and description of your really important pages…you really should pay attention to your home page.” Obviously, your site’s home page is going to provide visitors with a first impression of your business or brand – or at least an online first impression. And we all know what they say about first impressions. We’d also add to this point that it’s vital to use HTML tags properly and wisely. You can learn more about smart usage of HTML tags here.

  5. Not using webmaster resources/not learning how Google and SEO really work:

    This is another favorite topic of ours at Amplitude Digital. In fact, it’s a staple of our core philosophy as a digital agency. When it comes to SEO, very little is truly “revolutionary” or “hard to figure out” – no matter what certain digital marketing “gurus” might try to tell and sell you. Instead, think of true SEO as a set of best practices you should already be following, even if Google itself didn’t exist. Of course, Google DOES exist. And not only does it exist, but it pretty much dominates and defines much of what constitutes SEO in 2013. To that end, it obviously pays to do your best to learn everything you can about Google. As well as discovering ways to stay out of the thick, thorny, tangled Google Jungle. As Cutts points out, Google provides an array of free webmaster tools, videos and blogs at www.google.com/webmasters. You’ll also find a wealth of information on SEO here on the official Amplitude Digital blog.

Of course, there are many other mistakes to be made when practicing SEO. But Cutts offers his customary strong, straightforward analysis to define the top missteps as he seems them. And in the process, aligns quite nicely with the Amplitude Digital approach to smart, successful SEO practices.

What do YOU think about this list? Do you agree? Disagree? Is there anything you would add to this Top 5 list?

Let us know in the comments section below this blog entry. We’d love to hear from you.

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