What Makes a Quality Site According to Matt Cutts

The head of Google’s Search Spam team, Matt Cutts, was recently interviewed by Eric Enge on the subject of “What Makes a Quality Site.”  It’s a good quick read that should get you thinking about how you can improve your site and thus generate more traffic.  Written below is what I got from it.

We know that everybody with a website wants to rank higher in Google to generate additional traffic to their site.  And they want to accomplish the higher rankings as soon as possible and with the least amount of effort.  While in the past it has been quite easy to accomplish this by taking advantage of certain loopholes and ranking indicators, Google is working to make it more difficult.  And this upsets a lot of webmasters.

“Why should I have to work harder for something that was so easy in the past?”

The overarching reason for this is because Google’s search results serve up a lot of spammy, repetitive websites built to manipulate the results.  Pushing for sites to strive for quality is a way ‘to improve the quality of search results’.

What can we take away from this interview to help improve our sites?

  1. Rather than regurgitating the same content that already exists, work to bring additional value.
  2. Focus on what differentiates you.  Describe what makes you special.  This can be difficult for e-commerce sites that sell the same products as many other sites – get creative.  See number 1 above.
  3. Focus on distinguishing yourself in a niche area before going head-to-head with the big players.  If you follow the above steps, your unique content has a good chance at cracking the first page because Google values diversity in the search results.
  4. SEO isn’t really about ‘link building’.  Yes, acquiring links to your site helps achieve rankings but focus your efforts at a higher level.  Approach this at the PR/marketing level and you’ll avoid wasting time seeking out useless links.
  5. Infographics and other types of link bait might soon be devalued by Google.  This is yet another effort that has been used to garner a large quantity of links and thus used to manipulate search results.  While some/many infographics are useful and of high quality, there are, according to Google, too many that are unresearched and of low quality.
  6. Sites that have many entry pages, such as restaurants that have locations in many cities, have typically created pages for each city with virtually the same, redundant copy.  Cutts advises to cut the redundancy and replace with more unique content – even if its only 2 or 3 sentences.  Again, see number 1 above.
Creating content that will rank well will likely be less programmatic than it has been in the past.  While unique content won’t be easy for some sites, especially those with thousands of products, the sites that spend the time to be unique will likely benefit the most.
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