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Interview with Google’s Matt Cutts – Search Trends for Small Business

At PubCon Las Vegas 2012, Benu Aggarwal caught up with Matt Cutts of the Google webspam team to get some insights into the top search opportunities for small businesses while wrapping up 2011 and heading into 2012.

Matt Cutts: Let me start with three. I would say one, one is the user experience.  Take Hipmunk, they are able to do a fantastic user experience for travel, for airlines, even for hotels. They will show you the hotspot, like Airbnb and everything that is nearby, and they will show you the layovers and whether it has WiFi. So a lot of people are searching on Hipmunk, even if they buy the flight somewhere else.

Look at the user experience. If you are trying to make that reservation and your brow is furrowing because you are angry, that’s bad right?

Benu: So look at your web analytics and webmasters and see what is working and optimize it?

Matt Cutts: Yeah! Look at your funnel and see where people are losing it. Try to make the forms better. All that kind of stuff. The other thing is, you know, the content.  Right?  If you don’t have something that describes things and, you know.

Benu: Stagnant content that is not fresh?

Matt Cutts: I mean it’s ok if you are evergreen, but you really want it to be a lot of stuff.

Benu: Fresh?

Matt Cutts: Fresh is good, but you really want it to be comprehensive, you know. Talk about all the different classes you offer. The last thing is, I’d have a blog.  That’s your chance to be fresh. That’s the chance to get links. Too few hotels do that. Not every Holiday Inn is going to, right? But if you have a high-end resort, and you can talk about some of the experiences that you’ve done, like, “This was a fantastic Christmas dinner,” when Christmas rolls around next year,  people are going to be searching for “Christmas resort getaway,” then you’re all set.  Those kinds of things.

Benu: What about NAP (name, address, phone number) saturation and cross channel?  Do you think you can broaden people’s horizon?

Matt Cutts: It doesn’t hurt, right? I mean, if this hotel is not a good match, you might want to let them know about other hotels in higher or lower price ranges, stuff like that. But, first and foremost, what is that blink experience when someone lands on the page? Is it going to be helpful? And then do you annoy them as they start to make a reservation?

Benu: You know what’s interesting, is you talked about blogs.  You will not believe how much angry experiences I get when we work with big brands like Marriott, Hilton, whatever, because they have no policy on blogs. So we say, ok, if you don’t want to put the blog on your domain, put it on a separate domain, but have a blog where you have fresh content.

Matt Cutts: Absolutely.  If you have a voice…think about something like Airbnb, they have a voice. You feel like there are people behind them.  You might not agree with them, or you might hear some horror stories, but they are able to respond to controversies, they are able to participate in the conversation.  If you don’t participate in the conversation, that’s a problem.

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