When TheShortCutts.com launched a few months ago, it set off a viral explosion powder keg in the SEO world.
Although only a few months old, the site’s homepage has over 900 backlinks and a Page Authority of 51.
It’s intense popularity speaks to the demand for SEO content straight from Google’s mouth. And while it doesn’t come very often — when it does — it’s typically from their head of webspam, Matt Cutts.
While his new videos are usually fairly helpful, I recently went through some of the old school archives from 2009-2011. Although long forgotten, many of these older videos are overflowing with SEO golden nuggets. And because there weren’t thousands of people clamoring for slips and SEO secrets back then, he tends to be a bit more straightforward and less cryptic than he is now.
I decided to share the 10 best videos from that era. Although a bit older, the insights are still relevant today. And when put into practice, they’ll give you some actionable SEO insights you can apply to your site’s SEO campaigns.
Video #1: “What do you predict will be the big changes to search in the next few years?”(12/02/2009)
This one is interesting because “the next few years” is now.
Oddly enough, there is no mention of social signals, AuthorRank (this video came out before Google began verified authorship) or any of the newfangled signals Google is supposedly using to rank sites.
The two changes he mentioned that did come into play was a) mobile and b) knowledge graph (although he called it “Google Square”). Both of which are becoming a larger part of the Google algorithm.
Video #2: “Does anchor text carry through 301 redirects? (5/04/2009)
I included this one because this is something I didn’t know. Apparently, most of the time, anchor text does flow through a 301.
That could be why site owners that tried 301ing their Penguin penalized sites to fresh domains still got hit (they were hoping that only part of the over-optimized anchor text would flow to the new domain).
Video #3: Is Google putting more weight on brands in rankings? (05/04/2009)
This question is so relevant to today’s SEO world that it could have been from last week. According to Cutts, the signals that Google likes to see — authority, trust, reputation, PageRank — are a natural byproduct of being a big brand.
He does reference the “Vince Update” that favors larger brands. However, he states that the update only affects a small number of searches and didn’t fundamentally change how they rank sites.
Video #4: Will Google use non-link references as a signal? (5/05/2009)
The use of “non-link references”, also known as citations, has been a hot topic in the SEO community lately. Props to Eric Enge for asking this question and being 2+ years ahead of the curve.
Matt states that they do NOT use citations because of it’s ability to be easily spammed. He basically says that policing links is hard enough. Opening the floodgates to plain text would ramp up webspam considerably.
Video #5: What types of directories are seen as sources of paid links? (6/17/2009)
Another relevant question for today’s SEOs. Web directories aren’t the link building panacea they used to be, but they’re still used by many SEOs (myself included!).
His answer? It depends on the editorial standards of the directory. Directories like the Yahoo! Directory and BOTW.org reject sites all the time. Those links count.
Video #6: Does the size of a website affect its authority in Google? (10/21/2009)
Apparently, size doesn’t matter. I’ve always been a big believer in creating a small, tightly-focused site instead of banging out hundreds of articles.
Authority comes from the links pointing to your site. Period.
Video#7: Why is Google still taking notice of DMOZ? (5/10/2010)
DMOZ is still “the holy grail” directory for most people in the SEO space. Cutts says that they don’t use DMOZ as much as they used to and that, “there are plenty of other places to get links across the web”.
Video #8: Can a purchased domain’s history affect its trust in Google? (7/14/2010)
For those of you out there that say “don’t use expired domains, they don’t work”, Matt Cutts disagrees. While he’s talking about a spammed domain retaining it’s history between owners, it doesn’t take a leap of faith to realize that older domains with GREAT link profiles would also pass some of that trust and authority onto you.
Video #9: Is the time left before your domain registration expires an SEO factor? (1/14/2011)
Matt says that if this were a ranking signal than thousands of brand new domains across the web (including some good ones) would get dinged. Makes sense.
Video #10: How much content should be on a homepage? (5/25/2011)
I included this one because I find that a lot of small business sites have very thin homepages, which makes it harder for them to rank. He says that more content gives Googlebot content to crawl, which can boost visibility.
It’s amazing that — even in a fast-moving industry like SEO — the same questions come up again and again. Read between the lines and take with a grain of salt if you must, but I personally enjoyed hearing Matt Cutts’ old school wisdom.