The Funny Matt Cutts on Whitehat SEO tips for Bloggers

Whitehat SEO tips by Matt Cutts

How much about SEO can you learn in an hour? Apparently, a lot, as the head head of Google's webspam team, Matt Cutts demonstrates (yes, he's the guy that's probably ruined your blog after the Panda and Penguin updates :P). But it's all for the better, because quality is now Google's priority. And there's a lot to be learned from the maybe-not-so-evil-after-all Matt Cutts. During an interactive session at a WordPress camp, he humors his audience for an hour with some Whitehat SEO tips and strategies that webmasters can apply to climb up the ladder. The major topics discussed were SEO keyword and security tips, pros and cons of Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, migrating to a new web-host, and of course, some WordPress plugin recommendations. Bloggers would definitely benefit from these tips.

The lecture comprises of a 1-hour long fun video that you'll love to watch. But if you'd rather read about, you can download the power-point slides or see the full transcribed text form of the video. Alternatively, you can read more about it at Matt's blog.

SEO tips for keywords

Keywords are the most important part of your site's content. Their correct or wrong usage can make or break your site. The first issue raised in the lecture was keyword stuffing. A guy, who supposedly invented an 'immortality device' claimed that Google put him down due to his invention, and that it doesn't want 'the truth' leaked out to the public. What most people missed was, he had a lot of keywords stuffed into a small 40x20px area, keywords including hundreds of celebrity names etc. This, in fact, was the reason for the penalty. Keyword stuffing is bad, and to Google, is now just noise.

Google recommends keyword tools for research. For your post titles and content, make use of keyword tools such as AdWords by Google, or Overture by Yahoo. These will let you know search volumes for keywords, and help you decide which ones will be best for you. Pick good keywords, and name your categories accordingly as well.

Always, always tag your images with ALT or alternative text. This is for accessibility, as it lets blind people know what's inside your image. It also makes your image available to Google search. People search for images and videos almost as much as they search for text. And if your images are not search-able, they won't appear anywhere.


In your permalinks and file paths, always use keywords, separated by dashes. You can also use underscores, but dashes are recommended. Never use space, because it gets replaced by '%20', which is neither user-friendly nor SEO friendly. If your site has previously made use of such URLs, then don't change them. Start from now instead. Change your default permalinks to something like /%postname%/

The last keyword tip discussed was about URL parameters. While dynamic URLs are fine, the number of parameters should be low. Read our guide on Configuring URL parameters for your blog.

Making your site friendly

  • First of all, your site should be crawl-able, and is not blocked from crawlers through a global noindex. WordPress and Blogger and other blogs are good to go by default.
  • Make your post creation date easy to find (for eg, you can clearly see this post's creation date just below the title)
  • Full text RSS feeds are recommended for your loyal users
  • It's always a good idea to test out your blog on a mobile device to see how mobile users are accessing it, and if they are having problems with it. It'll really give you a plus-point in terms of user-friendliness

Google Analytics and Webmaster tools

Google Analytics and Webmaster tools are really your friends. Google Analytics provides your site's complete statistical data, whereas Webmaster Tools help you troubleshoot your site and optimize it for better ranking in Google.
Googlw Webmaster Tools

Using Google's Webmaster Tools, you can;
  • Test robot.txt files before making them live, so that you can avoid any block errors beforehand
  • Submit spam reports against a site
  • Remove some of your URLs from index that you don't want shown
  • See a list of all your backlinks to see who is linking to you
  • See 404 and crawl errors. This allows you to troubleshoot your site for any broken links users might find. You can then correct those URLs and mark them as corrected
  • See your Crawl stats and Advanced index reporting so you can look for trends, and find out whether there's a problem or not

Moving to a new webhost and domain

Moving your site is never easy. There's a lot that could go wrong, which is why Google gives some tips on moving webhost and domain.

When changing your webhost and moving to a new IP, its always best to first backup your website. Then, bring it live on the new IP. Try reducing your DNS time-to-live. Once your site is live on the new IP, watch GoogleBot and observe user traffic to see if there isn't a significant drop or change of pattern. Wait till they fetch your site from the new IP. You can then take the old IP down.

While moving to a new domain, always use a 301 redirect instead of a 302, because a 301 is a permanent redirect. It'll be best if you move only a particular domain or sub-directory instead of your whole site. This will let you observe how much traffic have you lost for that particular sub-domain. If there's not much of a drop, then go ahead with the complete switch. Otherwise, don't do it. You can also contact the people linking to you to update their links

WordPress recommendations

Here is a list of plugins that Matt Cutts uses.
  • Akismet
  • Math Comment Spam Protection
  • Google Analytics
  • Feedburner Feed Replacement
  • Democracy (for polls)
  • SEO Title
  • WP Cache
Here are some plugins Matt is considering
  • Brian's Threaded Comments
  • Comment Karma
  • Author Highlight
  • WWW Redirect
  • Permalink Redirect
  • Related Entries

Security Tip

Here is a security tip that i think is worth sharing. Most people keep their .htaccess file in their root directory. Matt Cutts recommends you put it in your /wp-admin/ folder if you're using WordPress.

AuthUserFile /dev/null
AuthGroupFile /dev/null
AuthName "Access Control"
AuthType Basic
order deny,allow
deny from all
# whitelist home IP address
allow from
# whitelist work IP address
allow from

Also discussed was the point about whether you should "Get noticed" before or after "Getting traffic from Google". It'll be better to get noticed first, because that's the way to get traffic automatically. Getting traffic before getting noticed is something temporary, and should be avoided.

These were some SEO tips by the funny Google guy (yes, watch his video, he's really funny :D). Tell us what you think about the lecture, and what useful tips have you gained and applied to your blogs. All the best :)

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