5 SEO FAQs Answered by Matt [The Horse's Mouth] Cutts

SEO can be somewhat confusing for beginners and even more so for non-techy folk.  Thankfully there are a few resources out there dedicated to helping site owners de-mistify Search Engine Optimisation.Matt Cutt Video

My favourites include Webmaster World, SEOMoz and most importantly, Google’s very own Webmaster Help forums.

The videos below cover 5 frequently asked questions and address some misconceptions around SEO.  Here’s Google’s official response to them.

1. On Code Validation: Is HTML Validation Necessary For Ranking?

HTML validation is not necessary for ranking.  The main principle behind Google’s thinking is that they realise most site owners are not tech savvy and do not necessarily know how to validate a website’s HTML.  Matt (with help from Danny) explains further.

 2. On Internal Linking: Does Google still Recommend 100 Links or Fewer Per Page?

In the past Google did specify that a website should have no more than 100 links per page.  This is no longer a guideline.  However Google still asks webmasters follow common sense and only link out if necessary and to relevant pages. If a page looks like a link farm it might get penalised.  Read Google’s link guidelines for more info..  In this video Matt also mentions Google’s PageRank algo which distributes a page’s “link juice” to the outbound links.   In the past, WebMasters used “PageRank sculpting” to deal with this issue but this technique (arguably)  no longer works.

 3. On Google Penalties: When are Penalties Lifted?

In this video, Matt confirms that there are no set rules on when penalties are lifted. He differentiates between algorithmic penalties and manual ones.  With algorithmic penalties, if you improve the site and remove the negative factors that caused the penalty, the algorithm will eventually rank your site again.  He does not specify a time frame but says it can take a while.  A reconsideration request will not work in this instance.

A manual penalty is one placed by a memebr of the web spam team and does require a reconsideration request to resolve.  In this case a recovery, depending on how serious the offence, could be immediate once you’ve addressed the problem.

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 4. On Location of Link: Is the Order of Links on a Page Important for SEO?

In this video, a slightly younger -and significantly bolder- Matt confirms that the location of links on a page do not reflect the importance Google places on these links. In the past, when link location was a factor, savvy webmasters used CSS positioning to place important links higher up a page.

Today, Google’s algorithm is able to determine which links on a page are most important, regardless of their location (provided the page does not conatin an overwhelming amount of links).

 5. On URL Shortners: Do Social Links Pass Page Rank?

Matt confirms that Google is using “social signals” in its algorithm and asks webmasters to use url shorteners that utilise 301 (permanent) redirects as opposed to 302 (temporary ones).  The two examples Matt gives include Bit.ly and Goo.gl.  These types of shorteners do pass anchor text and PageRank.  He ends the video by reminding that that most social sites such as twitter specify that all links are no followed so it does not really matter which url shorteners you use as no PageRank will flow from such links.

In future posts I’ll cover other SEO videos by Matt so stay tuned.  In the meantime if you have any SEO questions, ask below…

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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