Qualities of a Good Site

Here’s a Transcript of Matt Cutts’ first video answering questions on SEO. The video is entitled – Qualities of a Good Site.Read the transcript if you can’t download the video – or keep the transcript open while you’re watching the first video.

Ok let’s try a few questions and answers. I don’t know if this will work so let’s give it a shot.

Ralph writes in. He says, “Some Comments on site maps please. It seems updates on sitemaps depend on page views of a site.”

Urr, No Ralph that’s not really true. As far as I understand it, pageviews are not really a factor on when things are up dated on Sitemaps.So there are different pieces of Data within Sitemaps. So imagine, you know, 5 little different pieces of data and they can all be updated at different times and different frequencies. Typically they’ll be updated within days or at worst case within weeks.However, as far as I know it’s not dependent on pageviews. Let’s try another one.

“What are some general guidelines and recommendations you would make to people who desire to increase their sites visibility on Google.”

Wow, ok so this is a meaty topic. Definitely a longer issue but lets go ahead and dive into it.The number one thing that most people kinda make a mistake on SEO, is they don’t make their site crawlable. So you wanna look at your site either through a search engine’s eyes or, you know, use a text browser. Do something and go back to 1994 and use Links or something like that.If you can get through your entire site using only a text browser you gonna be in pretty good shape because most people don’t even bother with crawlability. You also wanna have things like sitemaps on your site. You can also use our Sitemaps Tool in addition to that.Once you’ve got your content, and you wanna have good content that interesting. A reason why someone would actually want to link to you, and your site is actually crawable then you need to go about marketing, promoting or optimizing you site.So the main things that I would advise are; think about the people that are really relevant to your niche and make sure they know about you. So that’s just, you know, if you’re associated with a doctor because you’ve got some medical connotation with a website make sure that doctor knows about you and if he’s got a website it might be appropriate for him to link to you.

You also wanna be thinking about a hook. Something that’s viral. It can be really good content, for example newsletters, tutorials…
I was setting up all this video stuff, trying to make it look semi professional and there were tutorials by a company called photoflex. They were saying, ‘Here’s how to do a Fill Light, a Key Light’ – and all that sort of stuff – ‘oh and by the way you can buy our equipment to do that’. That’s really really smart and in fact another photography site that I went to, they had syndicated their tutorial lessons to that other website.

So content can be a great way to get links. You can also look at things like DiggSlashdotTailrankReddit – you know social networking sites – myspace those sorts of things.
But fundamentally you need something interesting that sets you apart from the pack. Once you’ve got something like that, then you’re going to be in much better shape as far as promoting your site.

But again the biggest step: Making sure your site is crawlable, after that making sure you’ve got great content and then finally try to do the best you can to find some hook – some reason why users would really love you site, return to it and bookmark it.

Alright, let’s do another one.

What conditions, asks Brian M, cause Google to use the Dmoz snippet when there is already a valid meta description tag on the page?

That’s a really good question. I actually had to go and ask the snippets team. I was like ‘Hi why does this happen?’ And, I’m not gonna go into too much detail, but here’s the way you should think about it.

Suppose that you have a page about Christina Aguilera or something like that, and your Open Directory snippet is about Britney Spears. Well if you type in, or some user types in, ‘Britney Spears’ that’s gonna make better snippet.
So the way I would be thinking about it is, there’s all this scoring process, which does all this selection to say, ok you are the best document to be returned. Once we’ve selected and scored your document so that you’re going to be returned in a certain slot on the search engines, now what you need to do is say, ‘ok is the Open directory snippet or my meta tag a better match for what the user actually typed in.’So it’s actually query dependent. That is depending on the query the user typed we say, ‘Well we think that the meta description tag from the Open Directory Project or from your Meta Tags is gonna be a better match for the user’s query.’And then based on that we try to say, ‘Ok in that case let’s go with the meta tags, in this other case let’s go with the Open Directory Project’. Now you can, if you don’t like the Open Directory snippet, you can use the Meta NOODP tag . And that will prevent us from using the description from the Open Directory Project.

So you have – sort of – the ability to sculpt things a little a bit and choose which things you want to have happen.

Alright… This ones a good one.

Lara McKenzie writes in, she says ‘Does Google favor Bold or Strong Tags?’

In general, we probably favor bold just a little bit more but it’s so slight that I wouldn’t really worry about it. I would go ahead and do your markup how ever you wanna do it, not worrying so much about – ‘oh, if I use italics am I gonna get a little bit of boost in Google’. Any kind of affect like that is relatively small. So in general I’d do whatever’s best for your users or whatever’s best for your site and then not worry much about it after that.

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