Good organic SEO rewards you with a website that’s both people and search engine friendly. SEO is a continuous or at least episodic process given the fact that search engines are always changing. You want to build your website on a strong SEO foundation and invest in ethical and proven search strategies. Matt Cutts – Google’s head of webspam team – keeps sharing important tips that offer an insight into how the world’s most popular search engine indexes and ranks websites. Here are four useful tips from Cutts that you don’t have to be an SEO expert to understand and incorporate.
1. Header and body content should match
Google gets confused when the title tag and meta data of a webpage don’t match the body content. Making the body copy relevant to the specific page is just as important as creating a targeted title tag and meta description. For instance, if you are creating the ‘About Us’ page, talk about how your company started, its mission, values…..basically, your brand story should go into the page. If you make it salesy or include large chunks of content not directly related to the page title, there’s a good chance Google may not ‘get you’. And it may affect your site’s ranking. Keep this simple yet valuable tip in mind the next time you write or update copy.
2. Don’t hesitate to use words within keyphrases individually
Google does a synonym search to verify the relevance of the page to users’ queries. That means you don’t have to stuff a keyphrase as-is throughout your copy. For instance, if your keyphrase is ‘gold party dresses’, you don’t have to incorporate it where possible because repetitive use will affect the readability, quality and appeal of your copy. You can use words within the keyphrases – ‘ gold’, ‘party’ and ‘dresses’ individually at places where they make most sense, logically and creatively.
Cutts says the focus should be on adding keywords and keyphrases naturally and in a way that does not disturb the flow and presentation of content on the page. He advises that webmasters test this approach to validate (for themselves) what Google has been saying all along : don’t sacrifice quality of copy for search engines.
3. Support your images with text
Image ALT text adds SEO value, says Matt Cutts. If your own an online store or your site has great images, support the images with text using ALT image text. Simply, it’s a phrase that best describes an image. For instance, if you’re a California car dealer or an auto blogger, adding “2014 Chevrolet Equinox LS” as the ALT text to the SUV’s image on your webpage will make the image show up in Google web and image search.
Another advantage of adding the alt tag is that it describes the image even when you have disabled the image in your browser for some reason or the browser is not able to render it properly. The image will appear as an empty icon; when users hover over it, they’ll see the image text.
4. 404 error page : When and when not to use
If you’re a small California e-tailer, Cutts recommends not adding a 404 and instead showing related products. It’s the best option for small ecommerce stores that put a lot of work into creating individual pages. For mid-sized e-tailers with hundreds of pages, Cutts says a 404 error page is necessary when the product is not available any more. But he advises creating a custom 404 page that contains links to important pages such as the home page and a search bar.
On the other hand, if the product is temporarily out of stock and the particular page is ranking, Cutts advises that you clearly state the product is temporarily out of stock for x weeks.