Last week Head of Google Webspam Matt Cutts gave us a few different, little videos offering quick pieces of SEO advice. Below are the three videos we saw last week and what his message means to you:

How and Why Google Changes Your Page Title

You may have noticed that Google will oftentimes change your title to be something different than what you specified in your title tag. Obviously this causes a little bit of confusion and many Webmasters find themselves asking several questions: What was wrong with my title tag? How does Google determine what title to use? Does Google look at schema, headings, or other factors to make this decision?

Apparently, Google will change the title if it doesn’t fit their three main criteria. First, it has to be short, second, it must describe the page will, and third, it must be somehow relevant to the searchers query. In other words, Google will often choose a different title because, plain and simple, some Webmasters just don’t write good titles.

So how do they determine what title to use? Google does a few different things:

  • They might use content on your page.
  • They might look at the links that point to your page and then incorporate some text from those links.
  • Cutts says that they even sometimes use the Open Directory Project to try and help figure out what the best title for the page would be.

One thing that Cutts doesn’t really address in the video is why sometimes the titles they choose are really not relevant at all. It doesn’t happen too often so that may be why Cutts didn’t mention this problem. Nonetheless, he did say that you can’t control what title is used, but if you try to think about what a user might type into a search engine and write a title accordingly, it has a better chance of being chosen by Google.

4 Conspiracy Theories Matt Cutts Wants to End

There are quite a few different SEO myths out there that just won’t seem to go away, so Cutts addressed some of these in a video. He talked about four of the most popular:

  1. You will have higher organic rankings if you pay for Google AdWords. He also discussed how the opposite of this theory is just as prevalent (that you will rank better in organic if you don’t buy ads).
  2. Google changes its algorithm so people will be forced to buy ads. It make sense that Google wants you to buy ads and if you have low traffic then you will be more apt to buy these ads. Of course, Cutts explained that this is very far from the truth.
  3. The latest black hat fad will help you rank. Cutts wants people to think for themselves and stay away from the latest fad about what is going to make you rank. Black hat tactics will never help you rank.
  4. SEO tools will always help you. There are quite a few tools out there that claim to do it all and guarantee you’ll rank number one. Unfortunately, many can get you penalized.

Cutts ends the video by saying that it’s important to realize Google’s goals and then align your strategies with those goals. This will help you differentiate between a myth and a fact. It’s not about money for Google, it’s about giving the searcher the best possible results.

Why Small Sites Can Outrank Large Sites on Google

Small sites have long been frustrated because it seems that larger sites automatically rank better because they have higher traffic, usually for no reason other than their brand name. However, Cutts reiterated in this video that this is not the case. Larger sites do not automatically rank higher, and he has seen smaller sites push ahead because they are able to respond quickly to changes, roll out new ideas faster, and put out more content more frequently than larger sites. In his words, this is how small sites become large sites.

When it comes to being a smaller site or a solo Webmaster and simply not having the resources to run a site the same way a larger site does, Cutts gave the advice that you should focus on a small niche and cover it extremely well.