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SEO like Matt Cutts at Google

Posted on Nov 16, 2014 by Paul White

Matt Cutts has been at google for over 15 years, he is one of the most respected voices in Search Optimization.  Mainly because unlike any other SEO guys out there he actually works for google.  So I decided to take some of his advice from past vidos and articles and combine them into a short guide for any website that wants to increase their search rankings.

Analyzing Matt Cutt's Blog

During this blog we will make several assumptions.  The first is that Matt Cutt would never use any Black Hat Techniques to get high ranking, and the second is that Matt Cutt's Blog is the Model for Good SEO and quality content.  We should first point out that Matt Cutts uses a blog that runs on Word Press.  Not exactly a well respected platform in my mind, but if its good enough for Matt Cutts, it should be good enough for you.  Keep in mind I am not saying Word Press can be used for all your projects.  Matt has a Blog which is very simple.   Word Press gets the job done.  I am sure if he had a more complex website, he would recommend coding your own, or even a more sophisticated framework than Word Press.  I personally would never want to rely on a framework for my own client's websites, as I am a more hands on kind of guy.   The point is what matters is the user experience, and not so much what framework you built the website with.

SEO on Matt's Blog

If you look at the Source code of his blog 2 things will immedately jump out at you.  The lack of a Keywords and Description Meta Tags.  Back in 2013 Matt mentioned his own blog doesn't have a desription tag, and that google was smart enough to determine what your page is about.  Those of you on Google's webmaster Tools have become familar with the HTML improvements section that tells you about duplicate Title and Description Tags on your website.  They even have a section for when meta descriptions are too short or too long.  So the quick solution to this problem is get rid of it.  Keywords on the other hand hasn't been used by any major search engines for a very long time.  So get ride of that too.

I am currently in the process of removing all keywords and description tags from this blog.  Curious as if it will make a difference in ranking and traffic.

Paid Back Links

Anyone with enough traffic has caught the eye of the link brokers who offer to buy links from your website.  Matt has said this has become a very spammy habbit by websites, and to not do it.  So don't attempt to buy links on other sites, and be sure not to sell any on your own properties.  

Only use 1 <H1> tag

For those of you who don't know this, only use 1 <H1> tag on each page of your website. That what Matt Cutts does

Lack of <H2> tags

Something I found strange was the lack of any <H2> tags on his blogs.  He has a, <H3> for the page comments but no <H2>.  My guess is that they do have value, but Matt just doesn't take the time to manually add them to his blogs.  The <H1> and <H3> on the other hand are auto generated by word press.

og: meta tags

He is using the Meta Tags for "og".  Not sure if these have value on google but they are very helpful with social networking ( facebook, twitter ).  For those of you who don't know what these are here they are

<meta property="og:type" content="article" />
<meta property="og:title" content="The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO" />
<meta property="og:url" content="https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/guest-blogging/" />
<meta property="og:description" content="Okay, I&#039;m calling it: if you&#039;re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it&#039;s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you&#039;re doin..." />
<meta property="article:published_time" content="2014-01-20T19:51:04+00:00" />
<meta property="article:modified_time" content="2014-11-09T06:49:54+00:00" />
<meta property="article:author" content="https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/author/admin/" />
<meta property="og:site_name" content="Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO" />
<meta property="og:image" content="https://s0.wp.com/i/blank.jpg" />

Something I want to point out is the lack of a og:image, as its just using the word press logo for all the articles I found.  Though on the articles in which he does have a photo he does fill that field in correctly.

Secure your website with SSL (HTTPS)

Google has already indicated that there would be a small SEO bump from websites using HTTPS, rather than the unsecure HTTP.  In the past HTTPS was only used by websites that needed to transact senstive customer information.  Now Google has indicated if you respect your customer's privacy you should run the entire site under SSL ( HTTPS).  Matt's blog is completely running off HTTPS.  Another interesting fact is it looks like Matt bought his Certificate on 8/14/2014.  Not sure if he had one for last  year, but this might indicate that he just recently ( in the past 3 months ) setup his website to use SSL.  His Certificate is issued by AlphaSSL CA - SHA 256 - G2, with a public key of 2048 bits.  SSL certificates are not cheap, so this might be a burden for most smaller websites.  Google has indicated that its SSL indicator would be gaining more weight in the future, so now might be a good time to secure your sites.

Relative outbound Links are good

Something I noticed about Matt's blog is he tends to have tons of external links to other respected websites. And no he is not using the rel="nofollow" on these.  These links are to companies, Wikipedia, Mainstream News Sites.  Nothing that could be considered spammy.  Apparently outbound links help google understand what you are about and improve ranking.  When I googled for "Best Frozen Yougurt in Silicon Valley", Guess who's website is #1?  Yup the article on Matt's website.

Analyzing the IP

Matt's Blog is hosted on, this IP belongs to Tiger Technologies out in Berkely California. Its part of the IP Block ( 4 class C Blocks ).  No other websites are hosted on his IP, this leads me to believe that a dedicated IP address does matter.  But then again most hosting companies give their clients a dedicated IP address, except for those dirt cheap hosting plans you might find online, which will cram a few thousand websites on a single IP.  

301 Redirects

Having multiple domains pointed at the same website can cause a duplicate content penalty, unless of course you setup 301 redirects to the primary domain.  Taking a look at mattcutts.com shows this does matter.

  • http://mattcutts.com > 301 Redirect > https://www.mattcutts.com
  • http://www.mattcutts.com > 301 Redirect > https://www.mattcutts.com

Take note that he is redirecting his non secure HTTP to his HTTPS.  The only thing holding me back from doing this on my client's websites are the cost of the SSL certificate.

Canonical Tags

Every page on Matt's Blog has a Canonical Tag to tell search engines that no matter what URL brought up this page this is the correct URL to index.  I have started to do this on many of my websites, but have found that if you want quicker response from google to update their index, its best to use 301 Redirects.


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