Top Secret: 4 SEO Tricks Google Doesn’t Want You to Know

We all know that SEO matters. What we don’t know, however, is what Google is hiding. Continue reading to learn four secrets that search engines are desperate to keep under wraps.

seo

Good morning, online business owner. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to conquer search engines, namely Google, to make your site rank higher than your competition.

Here’s your top secret dossier for this mission not-so impossible:

 

Secret #1: Meta tags and descriptions are Google garbage, but can still help

Back in the old days (circa 2000), meta tags, particularly meta keywords and meta descriptions, were veritable search engine gold. These pieces of HTML were supposed to tell search engines what the websites were all about, and therefore help boost the rankings of those that were more relevant to the search query. But instead of using these powers for good, meta information became hotbeds of misleading keyword stuffing which led to high rankings for some pretty crummy sites.

In 2009, Google caught wind of these issues and announced that it would no longer factor meta tags nor meta descriptions into its ranking algorithms. At all. Thus, when it comes to bettering your search rankings, nothing you put in these areas will have any effect.

That not to say, however, that meta tags and meta descriptions are completely useless. When potential customers search for you, they’ll skim through that information when deciding which link to click. If your meta description isn’t well-written or relevant to what they’re searching for, then you can bet they’re going to head to another page. Also, even though keywords in your meta descriptions won’t affect your ranking, they’ll be bolded if they show up, which can really help your link stand out.

 

Secret #2: Links help, but powerful links are crucial

It’s no secret that link building is an important part of any SEO strategy – but what Google isn’t telling you is this: the real trick is getting powerful links.

For example, if you work to get 100 links to your site from a bunch of no-name bloggers, you’ve definitely done yourself an SEO favor. But if you secure just one link from a powerful site like The Huffington Post, you’ve got one heck of a boost.

In other words, it’s all about quality, not quantity.

Thus, continue to work to gather as many quality links as you can instead of fighting for every link possible. (Trust me, Google likes to watch you struggle here.)

 

Secret #3: Google+ has changed the rules

Most people know that Google wants to take power away from Facebook, and one of their strategies is to use their social network, Google+, to influence search results in at least two big ways.

First, Google+ affects your personalized search results. If you have personalized search results enabled on your Google account, when you do a search, you’ll see if your friends have +1’d any of the results that show up.

googlepluspersonalresults

And it doesn’t stop there. In some bases, Google with actually promote certain content based on who’s in your Google+ circles and what they’ve endorsed.

The second way Google+ is shaking things up is with Google Authorship, which is basically a way to link the content you write online with your Google+ account. Not only does it make it easier for people to find content penned by you, but it makes your link much more attractive by adding your Google+ picture.

googleplusauthorship

In a sea of typical links, content with Google Authorship really stands out. The catch, of course, is that you have to have a Google+ page in the first place in order to reap any of the benefits.

 

Secret #4: There is no secret to SEO

The biggest thing that Google doesn’t want you to know is this: there is no secret to SEO.

The real “secret” to conquering search results is to create quality content that people want to consume and share. At the end of the day, Google is powered by people, and people crave content.

So, instead of focusing on mastering the latest SEO trick, spend time thinking about how you can educate and entertain your customers and community. Start writing content for people instead of search engines, and stop obsessing over what you think Google wants.

 

Good luck, online business owner. As always, should you be caught, I will disavow any knowledge of your actions.

This message will self-destruct in five seconds.

Happy selling!
-Matt Winn, Volusion

About 

Matt Winn is Volusion’s Senior Brand Manager, where he helps oversee the organization’s branding and communications efforts. Matt has created hundreds of articles, videos and seminars on all things ecommerce, ranging from online marketing to web design and customer experience. Beyond being a certified nerd, Matt is an avid college football fan, enthusiastic home cook and a self-admitted reality TV junkie.

62 Responses to “Top Secret: 4 SEO Tricks Google Doesn’t Want You to Know”

  1. Kadir

    I agree with this post that link building is the most important part of SEO

    Reply
  2. gilang-access

    for example meta FOR blogger How ?

    Reply
  3. Poulami Ghosh

    Hi Matt,
    This is a really great post.I do agree with your #2 that prospective links is very essential to boost your site.Thanks for sharing such valuable secrets of Google.Looking forward for your next post.

    Reply
  4. mohit

    i like this article but there is one problem in 1st point.

    It is true that Google is giving less importance to Meta tags nowadays, reasons can be many but it is also true that Google cannot totally neglect Meta Tags. So, “Garbage” is not an appropriate word for Meta Tags, at least at this time.

    Regards

    Reply
  5. Shilpa

    Thanks for the information Matt.

    Reply
  6. Akif

    Okay, to be short and clear! I think Meta description, Title tags and Meta keywords, they play an important part and yes they still play an important part in terms of SEO and Rankings for Google search engine!
    so thing is, you will rank well when you have each and everything in order!
    Just don’t spam anywhere and keep everything looks natural at all costs! Oh and yes never stop trying new things 😉

    Reply
  7. Lori

    Well, I agree Google webmaster tools still lets you know if you are missing or have short meta tags, so on one level I think they still count so just to be on the safe side I still have them Lori http://www.customcandybarwrapper.com/

    Reply
  8. Pappu

    I believe asking readers to share your content is very effective for SEO.
    Thanks for your excellent tips, I am going to use the tips for my 1st webpage”

    Reply
  9. Charles (KnNell) Knell

    Parts of the description meta tag appear in the Google search result snippet. This impacts the click thru rate of the associated link. The idea that the click thru rate of a search result doesn’t matter is total nonsense. Treat your meta tag descriptions with care. Study the snippets using the keywords you care about and then look at the meta description on those pages. A search engine will naturally strive to place the highest click thru rate result at the top of the list.

    Reply
  10. H

    Hi
    Thank you indeed Matt, It worked for us! http://www.buyspn.ir

    Reply
  11. Penny

    I have actually been very meticulous with my meta tags and find that sometimes they are the reason I hop ahead of someone. I believe that although they aren’t everything, they are important and should not be overlooked. Penny – http://www.ridethewilderness.com

    Reply
    • Matt

      Great point, Penny! Definitely nothing to be lost in paying attention to meta tags. Thanks!

      Reply
  12. Kate

    Hi, Matt – you note: “The real secret to conquering search results is to create quality content that people want to consume and share. At the end of the day, Google is powered by people, and people crave content.” I agree with all of these sentiments, especially with the latest Penguin update where Google has made it abundantly clear they are looking for quality content. My question is: When is Volusion going to provide the ability to host a blog internally on our site so we get extra credit from Google for all the time we spend creating this great content? While I understand Volusion encourages us to use 3rd party sites to create a blog and then link to our Volusion store, it is my understanding this suggestion will not help our ecommerce site rank with Google. With all the latest Google algorithm changes, I think it is imperative that Volusion give its customers the ability to host our blogs on the Volusion platform. Is Volusion looking at providing this capability anytime soon?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Matt

      Hi Kate, thanks for reading and commenting! I’ll definitely forward your suggestion to our Product team for consideration. Regardless of where your blog is located, it’s still a great SEO tool that can make a big difference in bringing free traffic to your site. Having links going back to your site from your blog is a nice start, but the most important thing from an SEO standpoint is to use your blog to cast a wider net among search results. For example, you can create a blog post that discusses a popular topic in your industry, and as more and more people read, comment and share this article, that post will begin to rank higher for the keyword in question. If a user enters your site for the first time by reading a blog post, they’re still entering your site, which is the first step to securing a sale. In other words, having an active blog that continuously shares high quality content is your best tool in your belt. Hope this helps! -Matt

      Reply
  13. Rick Thomas

    I’ve seen numerous instances in which a web designer has offered an optional “SEO Upgrade” for a little more money and the only apparent thing done was to insert meta tags … beyond that there was nothing done. For SEO puposes the title was wrong, the text was wrong, and even the pictures or images did nothing to optimize their clients placement in the “serps”.

    It has been suggested to me that an improper meta tag, one that has nothing to do with the clients products, industry, website, or geographical location can seriously impair their placement in the “serps” … any thoughts on this?

    Reply
  14. Anthony

    Love it…”The Secret is ther is no Secret”

    One big point I think you might have missed is the absolute importance of creating unique content, especially in the context of a Volusion eCommerce store.

    Too often I see retailers copying and pasting the descriptions provided my the manufacturers of the items they sell. Plainly this does not cut it, from either a SEO perspecictive or more importantly a conversion rate perspective,

    To rank for a product, make it engaging, creative and most importantly unique. Tell the story of the products value proposition in your own words, and don’t take the “short cut” of a copy and paste description. At best you’ll sound just like everyone else, at worst you’ll end up on the supplementary search index.

    Reply
  15. Scott Smiledge

    Yes! To all of my competition out there… FORGET ABOUT META! LOL

    I still think meta has its’s place. Although I do think that quality content is king. Meta still serves an important function. I see my results change when I alter meta. SO I’m not 100% drinking the cool aid on this on. Speaking of important links…. goto http://www.vampfangs.com 🙂

    Reply
    • Matt

      Hi Scott,

      I think you’ve absolutely hit the nail on the head – while META may have its place in any SEO strategy, we all need to focus on creating high quality content that people want to enjoy. The biggest takeaway I’d like for readers to have is that they should spend much more time focusing on their content than focusing on their META tags.

      Thanks for the insight and for reading! (Nice site btw)

      -Matt

      Reply
  16. Ydeveloper

    I do not think any of this is secret for SEO, majority of people knows about this if they are aware of SEO.

    Reply
  17. Clinton

    Nice one Matt, sound food for thought. I don’t know why every treats the words as gospel though!

    On META content you are right, Google is possibly less concerned but like you say users are the real target for good META descriptions and titles.

    If you’re talking META, consider an augmented approach not just for key words but F scanning. See http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html (No its not my page either)

    Cheers

    Reply
    • Matt

      Hi Clinton,

      Thanks for the post! Very interesting information in the link that you provided. I really like the part under the “Implications of the F Pattern” section. Thanks for sharing.

      -Matt

      Reply
  18. Sakira

    Great job Matt! I totally understood the message. Thanks for sharing! I agree with you and your caveat! Keep up the good work!!

    Reply
  19. Vick M.

    Yes for sure # 1 is incorrect. And I agree with #3.
    You will need meta description for sure, but as far as meta keyword it is not necessary. Meta Description is important, for example you have a website that does not have any content on homepage so you want google to show meta description.

    This is all for google but if you think about bing/yahoo they need meta keywords so if google sees keywords as garbage then bing/yahoo doesnt and its better to have them.

    If you need real consultation visit http://www.miredia.com for seo, sem, and more

    Reply
    • Matt

      Hi Vick,

      All good points! You’re right about the keywords for Bing and Yahoo, so don’t completely ignore those when optimizing your site.

      Thanks for the comment!
      -Matt

      Reply
  20. Ken

    I hired a google certified SEO firm last year and visits shot up right away. An SEO campaign along with adwords will bring visitors. Is Google+ the next thing or you tube PPC advertising?

    Reply
    • Matt

      Hi Ken,

      Very good questions! My intuition is that Google+ is going to be a big push, especially with personalized results. Many think that Google is forcing that G+ stays relevant by leveraging its powerful search engine.

      Only time will tell – thanks for reading!

      -Matt

      Reply
  21. Amanda

    I’m reading all of this hoping someone will realize Matt never said to ignore SEO completely. These tips are great and although some might be too early to enforce, one of the primary jobs of a marketer is to stay ahead of the game. Keep sharing Matt!!

    Reply
    • Matt

      Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for reading and for the kind words! You’re right in that we definitely never want site owners to ignore SEO – it’s a very important part of the marketing mix. Appreciate your support!

      -Matt

      Reply
  22. Allison

    Does Volusion offer an integrated way to send posts to our google + pages like it does from the product (to post to Facebook and Twitter)?

    Reply
    • Matt

      Hi Allison,

      We don’t at this time, but I’ll forward this to our product team for consideration in future releases.

      Thanks!
      -Matt

      Reply
  23. Chris M

    I tend to agree that META descriptions are a thing of the past, still funny how Google webmaster tools highlights your page as having an error if the meta descriptions or keywords are missing. FOr example- http://lakevillesuites.com/executive_offices.html

    Reply
    • Matt

      Hi Chris,

      The debate about META descriptions is definitely a lively one. While they’re not a critical element to SEO success, perhaps Webmaster Tools is trying to tell us something? The mystery continues…

      Thanks for reading!
      -Matt

      Reply
  24. Ganna P

    Great…and I was telling to my husband that my sells went up and I wasn’t doing much but now I know why:D thanks!

    Reply
  25. Eug

    Nice post! Very much agree. Too bad about the self-destruct.. was looking fwd to it!

    Reply
  26. svend

    Meta Description is probably not helping much in SEO, but if you don’t put it in, google decides what the description is in the SERP. If you put in your description tag, google uses that!! You are much better at deciding what shows up vs. Googles robots/AI code…. 😉 .. svend dot com

    Reply
    • Matt

      Hi Svend,

      Good point – definitely don’t want Google making our description for us, especially when it shows up to readers. Thanks for the comment!

      -Matt

      Reply
  27. Ryan

    Great job Matt. Keep up the good articles. While I don’t ignore ignore tags I don’t spend 20 minutes per listing on great key words. Heck, your how to videos still say you need 20+ key words per item. I get more traffic from higher quality links, clever tweets and well written blogs that others share. A HUGE help was video reviews on products and how-to videos (which you already stressed). The links and conversion from YouTube smokes everything else in my organic hands down (and anywhere between 20-80% conversion might I add).

    Keep up the good work guys!

    Reply
    • Matt

      Hi Ryan,

      Thanks for reading! I think that your approach to tags is a great compromise for any website owner, being sure not to forget them but not losing sleep over them. You’ve hit the nail on the head by focusing on your content, which is truly the perfect mix for SEO. Great advice on the usage of video for multiple purposes. By mixing up your content and providing additional sales tools, your store must be a conversion machine! Congrats on the success and thanks for the comments!

      -Matt

      Reply
  28. Anthony

    Matt, You definitely stirred up the Hornets nest, HA! Though I did get your key points, from an SEO perspective there are good points on both sides. I see meta keywords and meta description tags used quite a bit with smaller International search engines that have their own dedicated following, so we tend to still use them for clients attracting international attention, with the knowledge that Google doesn’t pay attention to keywords tag at all & the meta description tag doesn’t help SERP’s Rankings but can be a businesses converting elevator speech when it comes to defined results.

    You Being Volusion’s SOCIAL MEDIA Guy + Having a GREAT attention getting Title + stirring up the Hornets nest! = Great Job! : )

    Reply
    • Matt

      Hi Anthony,

      Thanks for sharing your insights on the use of keywords and descriptions by international search engines! Definitely something that should be considered by merchants that are selling overseas. Do you have any examples of these types of search engines to share?

      Wasn’t my intent to stir up the hornet’s nest, but glad it sparked a good discussion! Thanks for reading and for the kind words!

      -Matt

      Reply
  29. jake

    Great stuff Matt! Thanks for the info.

    Reply
  30. david

    BAD ADVICE. What you’re telling people to forget about Meta Description – but this shows up right in the search results. Whether Google uses it for SEO or not, META DESCRIPTION IS VERY IMPORTANT AND DON’T IGNORE IT.

    Reply
    • Matt

      Hi David,

      Thanks for the comment. My goal is not to tell people to forget about Meta Description. Instead, I’m encouraging them to know that SEO doesn’t begin and end with meta tags. You can also see that I recommended that readers work on their description by saying the following, “Caveat: Although your title tag isn’t technically a meta tag, it’s still important to Google. And while Google doesn’t care about your meta descriptions, it’s still helpful to your readers.”

      Thanks for reading!
      -Matt

      Reply
      • Ron

        David is very correct. The Meta Description tag is not just dead, it is vitally important. Tests that we conduct on an ongoing basis have clearly shown that Google is definitely paying attention to the content of the Meta Description tag when it comes to deciding ranking. It may not have as much weight as it did at one time, but don’t discount it just yet.

        Reply
  31. Jeff

    I like how your title is “top secret” and you describe that there is no secret to SEO.
    http://www.aviatorskinandhair.com

    Reply
  32. Craig

    Do you guys actually know SEO? Terrible advice.

    Reply
    • Matt

      Hi Craig,

      Sorry you didn’t get much out of the article. Are there any words of wisdom you’d like to share with us?

      Thanks for reading!
      -Matt

      Reply
  33. Amanda

    You hit the nail on the head. I contacted several firms in regards to an SEO and they really weren’t convened with Meta Tags. They were more concerned wit the geographical area that you wanted to hit hard, and getting a minimum of a $2000.00 – $6000.00 a month campaign out of you…. Did I mention there is not a guaruntee that your sure will even make it to the to of Google? Needless to say I am no longer concerned with an SEO Firm getting the company on the top of the google chain. Waste of money.

    Reply
    • Matt

      Hi Amanda,

      Sorry that you had a bad experience with your SEO firm. There are definitely a lot of quality providers out there, so I hope that you won’t give up hope! You’re absolutely right that there isn’t a guarantee that you’ll rank #1, and any good SEO firm would tell you that. Best of luck in your search engine efforts!

      -Matt

      Reply
  34. Chris

    I disagree with you with #1. To say that META is garbage now is quite immaturely timed. Google is overhauling the algorithms but to complete discount META is ridiculous. I agree with you about Plus World but we’re not there yet.

    Reply
    • Matt

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for pointing out that completely discounting META isn’t in anyone’s best interest, but my hope was to explain to site owners that it isn’t the end all, be all of SEO success. Regarding the Plus World, do you think that it will be as big of a deal as the speculation, or do you think that Google+ will die off like Buzz and Wave?

      Thanks for reading!
      -Matt

      Reply
  35. Colby C

    Agree with Dean P. – In addition to his comment, you want to be sure and NOT spam/stuff it.. Bing uses these elements to discount website ranking.

    Reply
    • Matt

      Hi Colby,

      Excellent insight on not spamming/stuffing the meta descriptions. (Or any content for that matter)

      Have a great weekend!
      -Matt

      Reply
  36. Dean P.

    #1 is mostly incorrect; META descriptions are still really important for humans looking at search engine result pages. That’s visitor’s first glimpse of your site, and it may be your only chance to differentiate yourself from other similar sites and terms in the search results.

    Reply
    • Keith

      They already said that in #1 Dean, the article is about what Google likes not what people like.

      Reply
    • Matt

      Hi Dean,

      Completely agreed that meta descriptions are still important for humans, which I mentioned in the “caveat” line under section one. And while meta tags aren’t as important as they used to be, I definitely suggest that they’re filled out with thought. What are your thoughts on how to best optimize the meta descriptions for readers?

      Thanks for reading!
      -Matt

      Reply
      • Dean P.

        @Keith – I don’t believe that caveat was there when I made my comment. If you’re one to balance what Google wants and what people want, then you need to read my response to Matt.

        @Matt – Since you asked, here are my thoughts on optimizing META: http://deanp.net/2012/02/meta-descriptions-arent-dead/ – thanks for writing and reading.

        Reply
        • Matt

          Hi Dean,

          Nice blog post, and congrats on the mention in the SEOmoz blog! To address the caveat within Secret #1, I promise that it was included in the initial blog post.

          Although the article was focused solely on what Google wants, I didn’t want readers to completely disregard the META description. I very much agree with your points that website owners should write for humans, as that’s what Google is trying to achieve. The main point I was trying to make, which is summarized in the last paragraph of Secret #4, is that merchants should spend more time focusing on their content than on their META data. Again, completely agree that one should never ignore the META-D, but it’s not worth spending sleepless nights over.

          Appreciate the feedback and your comments!

          -Matt

          Reply

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