In another of his regular videos on the Google Webmasters YouTube channel, Matt Cutts has recently been addressing the differences between good SEO (search engine optimisation) and bad SEO.

You can view the video, ‘Can sites do well without using spammy techniques’, at, but to save you time, here are some of the major take-home messages.

  • Google severely punishes those who spam and use ‘black hat’ SEO tactics
  • Webmasters shouldn’t use ‘hi-jinks and tricks’
  • You can slowly repair the damage done by previous use of spam tactics by ‘disavowing’ bad links and using other methods to clean up your reputation
  • Google looks for : ‘great user experience’, people linking to you because you’ve ‘got a fantastic site’, sites that ‘come up with something compelling’
  •  The ‘links that are harder to get’ and which take longer to build, are ‘more likely to stand the test of time.’

Cutts also has advice for businesses looking to hire an SEO agency to improve their rankings: “Before you sign up with an SEO, ask for references, do some research, ask them to explain exactly what they’re going to do.” He goes on to say that if what the agency is doing feels natural it’s probably alright, but if it feels forced and involves anything resembling trickery it should be avoided.

In the video he also sums up Google’s approach towards websites and SEO in a single tidy soundbite: “We will be doing everything we can to return the best, high quality pages and search results to users, and if you are the ones generating those pages we would like to return your high quality stuff.”

How quality web content can improve your SEO

So with these points in mind, what can businesses do to climb the rankings in a legitimate way and avoid being tarred with the ‘spam’ brush? One of the best ways to do that is to create great original content that is relevant to your target audience/ prospective customers. This has a number of benefits that can provide significant return on investment from an SEO perspective:

  • Relevant content will naturally contain keywords that you want to rank for
  • High quality content is looked on favourably by Google and most other search engines
  • Content that is both relevant to users and of a high standard is more likely to be shared on social media and linked to from authoritative websites, bringing in extra traffic and increasing page rank

In general though, if you want to impress Google, don’t spend too long thinking about what the search engines are looking for – concentrate on giving your visitors what they’re looking for. Consistently high quality content can provide real value to your site visitors, and can lead to many more repeat visits in the future. Surely that kind of natural magic is better than the fleeting promises of black hat trickery?

You can learn more about how quality web content can bolster your SEO efforts on our SEO Copywriting page (

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