Matt and Duane’s Adventure in SEO: SMX West

I had the ultimate privilege of attending SMX West, the Search Marketing Expo in San Jose, CA this past week. It was an amazing experience packed with tons and tons of great knowledge. I am pretty sure I witnessed something there that will probably never happen again in this lifetime: Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam Team and Duane Forrester, Senior Product Manager with Bing’s Webmaster Program on stage together talking about SEO.

If you want your website to rank well, Cutts pointed out the top things that can get your website in trouble.

1. Too many doorway pages. If you are generating too many pages to target one unique phrase, it can sometimes lead to duplicate content which is a big NO, NO.

2. Autogenerated content. This practice speaks for itself… and Cutts shared an example of absurd auto-generated content  -a serious question is answered entirely by quoting a Freak Nasty song (which Cutts recited to a gleeful crowd). Autogenerated content is even worse when site owners use pictures of the Google web spam team. (This seems to happen more often than one would expect.)

3. Keyword stuffing- black hat SEO 101, and no website should practice it, ever.

4. Gibberish content- avoid it at all costs. If your content doesn’t read well and sounds robotic, overly stuffed with keywords, you have a major problem. His example of this was a Korean website, that even though it was in a different language, you could easily tell that it was stuffed with keywords.

5. Hacking- not necessarily the websites fault, but you will be penalized by Google if your website falls prey. Cutts said that 90 percent of penalizations are related to black hat practices, but a lot of spam reports are also related to hacking. “Keep software up to date,” Cutts suggested. He also said, “Fetch as Googlebot is your friend – it’s an easy way to see if your site got hacked.” Keep an eye on your Webmaster Tools and sign up to receive email alerts so you will quickly be notified when something goes wrong.

In closing, Cutts said, “Be excellent to each other! Be excellent to users and search engines and give people content they want.”

Duane Forrester of Bing also had a similar message. He said, “If your content is the best thing since sliced bread, you’re going to rank well. We are focused on what searchers are engaging and how we can deliver them better results.”

So, my take on it? Content is not only king but also queen and ace. If your content rocks, your website ranking will rock too! What are your thoughts on content and SEO?

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