Site Optimization Tips from Google Search’s Matt Cutts

Extracting information from Google about how to optimize your site for their search is next to impossible. I was happy today when I ran across a WordCamp 2007 post on BloggingPro, which summarized what had happened on the first day of WordCamp 2007. Along with seeing some information from several bloggers that I enjoy reading, was a list of tips from Matt Cutts, who is a Google employee and works for the Google Search team. Included was a bunch of information that pretty much any blogger will find useful when trying to make their blog more findable.

As for the post referenced above, here is the quote of what BloggingPro highlighted from Matt’s presentation:

  1. Don’t put your blog at the root of your domain.
  2. Name your directory “blog” instead of “WordPress”.
  3. In URLs, no spaces are worst, underscore are better, dashes or hyphens are best.
  4. Use alt tags on images: not only is it good accessibility, it is good SEO.
  5. Include keywords naturally in your posts.
  6. Make your post dates easy to find.
  7. Check your blog on a cell phone and/or iPhone.
  8. Use partial-text feeds if you want more page views; use full-text feeds if you want more loyal readers.
  9. Blogs should do standard pings.
  10. Standardize backlinks (don’t mix and match www with non-www).
  11. Use a permanent redirect (301) when moving to a new host.
  12. Don’t include the post date in your URL.
  13. When moving between hosts, wait until Googlebot and traffic begin to visit the new host before taking down the old one.
  14. If using AdSense, use sectioning.
  15. Use FeedBurner’s (now) free MyBrand feature to take control of your feeds (i.e., instead of

A lot of this stuff is probably common knowledge for most, but here are a few things that jumped out at me:

  • Don’t include the post date in your URL.
  • Standardize backlinks (don’t mix and match www with non-www).
  • In URLs, no spaces are worst, underscore are better, dashes or hyphens are best.

Most WordPress blogs will use hyphens by default, so if you site is run on WordPress, this is probably already being done. However, are you adding your date to your posts? If you run the Related Posts plugin, you probably use a URL structure similar to this:


If you’d like to remove that, you’ll want to go to Options, then Permalink, and set up a custom structure like the following:

Update: See my post entitled How to Switch Your Post’s Permalink Structure in WordPress to easily make the switch to a new permalink structure.

The other interesting thing I wanted to address was to standardize your backlinks. This is easy enough if your conscious of it, but is probably not something most bloggers are doing. Get in the habit of adding or leaving out the www and be consistent.

  • Don’t forget that you’ll need to use the permalink redirect plugin if you change the permalink format. Otherwise you’ll have chingos of broken links, lost PR, etc etc. In other words, it won’t be pretty at all.

  • Kyle, could you please expand on “Blogs should do standard pings.” Is Matt referring to using the ping feature from within WP and not an outside pinging service? If so, why?

    And with regard to not including the post date in the URL — whoopsie! I’ve done that since I’ve started blogging, in fact, I thought that was the preferred method. So why is that bad and if I decide to change it on my blogs, does that mess all of them or just the ones going forward?

    Great post!

  • Rhys

    I think most of us have the date in the URL, which means changing it now would be a bit silly, as I have strong indexed pages with Google, and I don’t want to lose them by moving them about.

    Great post though, bookmarked it 🙂

  • Kyle Eslick

    Charles – Thanks for the heads up on this! I subscribe to his blog, but I would like to see the presentation as well, so I will have to scour YouTube 🙂

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