SEO Tips For WordPress Bloggers by Matt Cutts

by John Hoff on August 24, 2009

I just watched an excellent video on the topic of WordPress search engine optimization (SEO) given by Matt Cutts while speaking at the WordCamp San Francisco 2009 seminar.

Matt heads up the anti-spam team at Google and frequently speaks about search engine optimization issues. The video is a little over 45 minutes but I have to say, it is well worth taking the time to watch if you’re at all interested in WordPress SEO.

Here’s the video and below it (for those with less time) I’ll highlight a few points Matt made which I thought you should know about. Rob Snell transcribed the speech if you’d like to soak it all in at your own pace.

Notes From The Video

I. WordPress is great for SEO

Take a look at this snapshot from his slideshow:

By “mechanics”, Matt means how WordPress is built. It’s built intelligently for Google to crawl it (i.e. your blog) with ease and indexs what needs to be indexed. For example, the url structure by default uses hyphens “-” to separate words in the url, which is great for SEO.

II. PageRank

Matt defines PageRank as “the number of people that link to you and how important those links are.”

What exactly does a high PageRank do for you? Well, the more PageRank your site has means:

  • The faster your site will be found.
  • The deeper into your site Google will crawl.
  • The more often Google will visit your pages to see if they’ve been refreshed.

Obviously, those are some things you really would like Google to do. Google also crawls sites in a decreasing order of PageRank:

III. Relevance & Reputable

Google wants to see that you’re relevant to something. If you focus in on a topic for your blog, it will learn that is what you talk about. In other words, don’t talk about a bunch of random stuff, otherwise may get lost in trying to figure out what exactly you want to rank for.

To build reputation, Matt mentions the following:

  • Be interesting.
  • Update your blog often.
  • Provide a useful service.
  • Do original research and reporting.
  • Give great information.
  • Find a creative niche.
  • Write some code
  • Live Blogging
  • Make list posts
  • Create controversy
  • Meet other people in social networks

IV. Keyword Notes

- Matt mentions something I’ve said many times in the past, don’t “overstuff” your landing pages with keywords. If you write about furniture, there’s no need to repeat that word 400 times. After mentioning the word 2 or 3 times and perhaps have that keyword in your title and/or url, Googlebot catches on and gets the idea that you’re writing about furniture.

- Contrary to what many SEO bloggers think, bolding the keyword doesn’t really help much; instead, concentrate on a writing style that a human can read and not feel like they are being YELLED AT!

- When trying to optimize your article for a given keyword or keyword phrase, realize that what you might think is the best keyword for your article might not necessarily be the best or only keyword people will use to find your product, service, or article. Use the Google Keyword Tool to find alternative keywords people are using to find your product and try to incorporate those keywords into your article as well. Just be sure that when you insert those other keywords that after reading your article, everything sound and reads naturally – don’t forget to do that!

V. WordPress URL Structure

Matt gives a great tip on how you can do one little tweak to help with your SEO. First, try to incorporate your keyword in your blog’s title and next, change that word slightly in your Permalink structure to another word someone might use in the search box (for example use the word “Changing” in your title and “change” in your url permalink.

Another tip he gives us which is probably the easiest search engine optimization check you can do for your blog is to use the /%postname%/ permalink structure for your blog.

As it turns out, I already have a video showing you how to do this on my YouTube channel: Setting The Best Permalink (url) Structure For WordPress SEO.

Again I highly suggest you take a little time out of your day to watch this video if you’re at all interested in learning search engine optimization for your WordPress blog. I realize this topic isn’t much fun for many of you and many times you might think you have more important things to do (like read other blog articles or tweeting about your day), but consider how much time you put into building your blog. Isn’t it worth your time to learn something so valuable to you?

Got a question about SEO? Ask away.

The images above are snapshots I took from Matt’s video. I give him full credit for the images I used for this article.


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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara Swafford August 25, 2009 at 12:22 am

Hi John,

It’s already late so I don’t have time to watch the video, but will be back and catch what Matt has to say. What you’ve written are some of the things I already do (on some of my posts), but I still have lots to learn. With the development of my next project, SEO is important as I hope get noticed faster by Google than I did when I started my other blogs 2.5 years ago.

Now I’m off to check out your TV blog. WooHoo! You’re one busy guy.
.-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..He Said, She Said, They Said =-.

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Jim Gaudet August 25, 2009 at 2:03 am

This was a great video and sparked me to write my first plugin. I believe it was this video where he mentions the Google Ad Section Code.

I have to say I am pretty happy with the plugin, as I am seeing much more relevant ads.

It’s called Advanced AdSense, check it out if you have time (or a site that uses AdSense).

My favorite piece of advice from the video was that you can change the URL to be different from the Title helping you just a little bit more for keywords,such as

costa-rica-photos (url) and costa-rica-pictures (title)

Since different people search differently, you should get both. Remember, Google is smart with synonyms, but it doesn’t hurt to help, says MC..
.-= Jim Gaudet´s last blog ..A Day in Costa Rica | Photos =-.

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John Hoff August 25, 2009 at 4:46 am

Hi Jim. That’s my favorite part of the video as well. It’s just one little tweak but can help you quite a bit in your SEO efforts.

That’s really cool about the plugin. Maybe I’ll check it out if I ever run AdSense.

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John Hoff August 25, 2009 at 4:48 am

Hello Barbara. You can check out the video anytime. I tried to highlight a few key points I thought were great takeaways. I’m excited to see your new project. Be sure to let me know about it when it’s released.

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Vered - Blogger for Hire August 25, 2009 at 8:02 pm

This is very useful. Thank you. I’ve been using bold in my keywords – glad to learn it’s unnecessary.
.-= Vered – Blogger for Hire´s last blog ..Visiting Vancouver =-.

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Mr. Nuggets August 26, 2009 at 6:22 am

John,

I just discovered your blog and am quite impressed! I have to admit I have been focusing solely on my wide array of deranged content and ignoring SEO, to which I am a newbie.

This has provided me with some food for thought. Thank you!

-Chris
.-= Mr. Nuggets´s last blog ..Something’s Fermenting in My Crockpot =-.

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John Hoff August 26, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Vered
I admit I wasn’t too sure on whether or not bold face helped emphasized keywords or not. According to Matt it’s not necessary, so I guess I’ll listen.

Mr. Nuggets
Hi Chris and welcome to my blog (it’ll be getting a new face lift soon). Thank you for your kind words and I love the quote, “wide array of deranged content” LOL. SEO is good, just remember humans come first. But there’s no reason why you can’t write for both Googlebot and humans.

Many newbies think that if you use SEO in your articles then you’re not writing “naturally”. I find that to be wrong and it’s usually because they don’t understand how to use search engine optimization. In fact, I have found that when I use SEO many times I’m more focused. In my experience, most newbies think SEO is all about keyword stuffing, which isn’t so.

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Jannie Funster September 6, 2009 at 1:13 am

Hey, John, really like your new site look, seems less formal — more approachable.

Felt like I was there for this video.

Maybe I’ve been suffering a bit too much from BO (Backlink Obsession.) Quality over quantity, eh for PR.

And realize I still have no idea what a podcast really is, nor what Open Source really is either. Educational!

The gems for me in this are the tips about “Free Links” Google.com/Webmsters/ for getting rid of 404s and about crawl info to point to any potential weak areas on my site.

Also as to Google.com/Webmasters/ and setting Preferred Domain I am wondering if I need to set the first, second or third option — the 3rd being “Don’t Set Association.” I’m not sure which choice actually “un-dilutes” my site.

Word Camp, eh? I wonder if it’s in Austin next year?! I’d be totally there.

Thanks!
.-= Jannie Funster´s last blog ..Viral Mirth =-.

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Jannie Funster September 6, 2009 at 1:13 am

Oh — like your picture too, was it always on your site, or something new?
.-= Jannie Funster´s last blog ..Viral Mirth =-.

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John Hoff September 6, 2009 at 4:19 am

Hi Jannie. No my old blog didn’t have a picture of me, that’s a new one I put up. It’s not the best picture in the world but it’ll do for now. I’m happy to hear you like the new design. Definitely this new blog design is much more representative of me.

I like how my blog is different from our main site. At first we figured continuity was best, but then I figured the blog is really “me”, so I wanted it different and more personable.

That was a pretty good little tip Matt gave there in regards to 404s. I also liked the part Jim mentioned he liked above, “you can change the URL to be different from the Title helping you just a little bit more for keywords”.

A podcast you could say would be something like a blog radio site. Your subscribers “listen in” to your blog while you talk about whatever you “voice blog” about.

Open Source is basically a computer program that the owner/creator has left open for people to view the code the program was built on and tweak it to do whatever they want.

For example, let’s take Turbo Tax, you’ve heard of that, right? Turbo Tax is not open source. You buy the program, install it on your computer, and use it the way it was originally built. However, if it were open source, then you could buy it, install it on your computer, and open up its “source code” and tweak it so Turbo Tax does whatever you want.

Maybe you could change the look of it or embed WordPress into it – whatever. You could rewrite the code if you wanted.

Does that make sense?

Thanks for stopping by ;)

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Jannie Funster September 6, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Hey John, I think the photo is stellar! You are a very good looking guy.

I actually do usually change the URL from my SEO plug-in title, just a bit. I didn’t realize that helped broaden the search-ability. Cool!

Yep, it all makes sense, thanks.
.-= Jannie Funster´s last blog ..Viral Mirth =-.

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Keith Davis September 13, 2009 at 2:03 am

That is some video!
The great Matt Cutts praising Wordpress from the SEO point of view.

I’m about 15 mins into the video and he has already given out so much useful information… I’ll watch the rest in easy to digest chunks.

I didn’t realise that Matt Cutts was such a great presenter, animated, voice variation, bits of humour… as I said, this is some video.

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John Hoff September 13, 2009 at 6:40 am

It sure is. He gives us lots of information here. I think it says a lot when one of the main guys over at Google uses WordPress to blog with opposed to Blogspot.

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Barbara Swafford September 28, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Hi John,

Since I’m working on a post to answer a readers question about SEO, I decided to come back and watch the video. What a powerhouse of valuable information. I’ll definitely be linking to this post and advising my readers to take the time to watch this. It’s SEO and power blogging all in one.

Great find, John. Thank you for sharing.
.-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..Blogging Etiquette – Write The Wrongs =-.

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John Hoff September 29, 2009 at 8:31 am

Hi Barbara. I’ve been finding that most people don’t watch the videos. I think they think it takes too long. It seems videos are good for only when someone is specifically looking for that problem to be solved.

Hey, that sounds like a post to me, yeah?

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Keith Davis October 2, 2009 at 1:45 pm

The perfect posts for me are the ones with lots of great screen shots. You can print them out and read them on the train or even watching the tele. You can’t do that with a video.
Having said that… I’ve watched this video all the way through.
.-= Keith Davis´s last blog ..easy peasy! =-.

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Keith Davis October 2, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Sorry John, forgot to ask… what is the plugin you are using to link to the last post of someone who makes a comment… looks brilliant.
.-= Keith Davis´s last blog ..easy peasy! =-.

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John Hoff October 2, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Hi Keith. I’m a video kind of guy, but that’s a great point about picture guided tutorials and being able to print them out. Actually, you’re not the first person I’ve heard that from, so that’s great feedback. The only problem sometimes is they can make posts seem very long.

As for the plugin, it’s called CommentLuv.

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Chrisile from Search Engine Optimisation November 22, 2009 at 7:33 am

Thank you very much for this informative post you made. It has helped me a lot to forget about stuffing my blog just like that without taking into consideration some of the tips found here.

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John Hoff November 22, 2009 at 7:56 am

Hi Chrisile, thanks for stopping by. Stuffing your blog with too much visible SEO is definitely not a great idea from a human sales point of view.

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Jessica December 5, 2009 at 2:18 am

Yes. I’m thinking of adding wordpress to my website. I’m also going to edit the source code to optimize it to work better for search engines

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John Hoff December 5, 2009 at 8:58 am

Hi Jessica. That’s good. Remember, when it comes to adding SEO, make sure it reads well for humans, too.

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Keith Davis December 5, 2009 at 9:28 am

Hi John
I’m starting to look at SEO for my blog.

Started with duplicate content…. took me a while to to realise the obvious, that Wordpress has lots of pages all with exactly the same content – categories, archives etc.
I’ve read various articles on dealing with this. Some suggest using SEO plugins that allow you to set noindex for various items, others are in favour of excluding pages using the robots.txt file and then there’s the “canonical tag”!

At the moment I’ve settled for not displaying the full post content on the home page, categories page etc using the “read more link”.

My next step was to install the All in one SEO pack plugin and start adding various tags to pages and posts…but no mention of SEO plugins from Matt Cutts.

The more I read the deeper I sink into the shifting sands of Wordpress SEO!

Any thoughts John?

Any plans for a “Wordpress SEO for the Confused Blogger” post or video?
.-= Keith Davis´s last blog ..The eyes have it! =-.

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John Hoff December 5, 2009 at 10:10 am

Hi Keith. Ok I really like that title! I was considering writing a WordPress SEO ebook, but I’m not sure. I’ll have to see where my energy is when I’m finished with two other ebooks.

WordPress SEO is a rather large topic. I will throw the idea in my blog article idea’s notepad.

If you have a little money to spare and you want to learn WordPress SEO, might I suggest Remarkablogger’s SEO eBook (shown in my sidebar). It is an affiliate link, so I do make a little $ if you click on the banner and purchase it from there (you don’t have to buy through my affiliate if you don’t want); however, I think if you’re wanting to learn a thing or two about WordPress SEO, that would be a great place to start.

As for your question on duplicate content, go with the All In One SEO plugin. It’ll create the canonical tag for you as well as block duplicate content (from the plugin’s settings area).

If, after installing the plugin, you have any questions about the plugin’s settings, let me know. But for the most part, I think you can leave all the settings at their default.

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Keith Davis December 5, 2009 at 10:54 am

Hi John
Thanks for your reply and thanks for your kind words on the post title… if you were to leave a comment, I wouldn’t feel offended LOL.

All in one SEO pack it is then, I’ll upload and activate.

I might treat myself to an early Christmas present with the SEO ebook.
.-= Keith Davis´s last blog ..The eyes have it! =-.

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Medication Therapy Management February 16, 2010 at 8:29 am

Thanks for these tips. Comes handy when we are on the verge of implementing a blog to our website. We’ll be using these tips to the best of our ability.

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John Hoff February 16, 2010 at 8:50 am

Good luck with the new blog. You know where to come if you have any questions.

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Aaron June 26, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Great information John.. I’ve come across a lot of my own clients that do not understand there is such a thing as “too much keyword stuffing”. They think all they have to do is say the same phrase 100 times and they will get up in the SERPs. This is a good post to send them to and can help explain that there are many more factors that go into ranking besides just having the keyword posted 100 times.

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John Hoff June 26, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Hi Aaron, nice to see you around here. Yeah the last thing you want to do is look too spamy. Overdoing it is not what Google wants us to do, is it.

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Allan March 3, 2011 at 3:35 am

I’m thinking of adding wordpress to my website. I’m also going to edit the source code to optimize it to work better for search engines

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