Nov 6 2014

Is The Matt Cutts Era Over?

It’s not 100% clear yet, but it’s looking like for webmasters and SEOs, the era of Matt Cutts is a thing of the past. His career at Google may continue, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll be the head of webspam going forward. Would you like to see Matt Cutts return to the role he’s held for years, or do you look forward to change in the search department? Share your thoughts in the comments . It’s a pretty interesting time in search right now. Matt Cutts, who has been the go-to guy for webmaster help and Q&A related to Google search for quite a few years, has been on leave from the company since July. Meanwhile, his counterpart over at Bing has been let go from his duties at Microsoft . @DuaneForrester sending you good thoughts today. Thanks for providing info to so many people and tough love when needed. — Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) October 30, 2014 When Cutts announced his leave , he didn’t really make it sound like he wouldn’t be back, but rather like he would be taking a nice,long, much-deserved vacation. He wrote on his blog : I wanted to let folks know that I’m about to take a few months of leave. When I joined Google, my wife and I agreed that I would work for 4-5 years, and then she’d get to see more of me. I talked about this as recently as last month and as early as 2006. And now, almost fifteen years later I’d like to be there for my wife more. I know she’d like me to be around more too, and not just physically present while my mind is still on work. So we’re going to take some time off for a few months. My leave starts next week. Currently I’m scheduled to be gone through October. Thanks to a deep bench of smart engineers and spam fighters, the webspam team is in more-than-capable hands. Seriously, they’re much better at spam fighting than I am, so don’t worry on that score. Scheduled to be gone through October. See? Pretty much sounds like a vacation. As you know, October has since come and gone. On October 31, Cutts provided another update, saying he was extending his leave, and wouldn’t be back at Google this year. I'm planning to extend my leave into 2015: https://t.co/T5adq50x4L — Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) November 1, 2014 Ok, fine. Cutts has been at Google for fourteen years, and can probably take a considerable amount of time off with no problem. But he’d be back in the swing of things in the new year, right? Well, he might be back, but what he’ll be doing remains to be seen. Cutts appeared on the web chat show This Week in Google , hosted by Leo Laporte, who asked him if he’ll go back to the same role, or if this is a chance for him to try something different. This part of the conversation starts at about 9 minutes and 50 seconds in to the video below (h/t: Search Engine Roundtable ). “Well, I really have been impressed with how well everyone else on the team is doing, and it’s created a little bit of an opportunity for them to try new things, explore different stuff, you know, approach problems from a different way, and so we’ll have to see how it goes,” Cutts responded. “I loved the part of my job that dealt with keeping an eye on what important news was happening related to Google, but you know, it’s not clear that having me as a lightning rod, you know for, you know unhappy black hat SEOs or something is the best use of anybody’s time compared to working on other things that could be making the world better for Google or in general. So we’ll see how it all works.” It doesn’t really sounds like he intends to go back to the classic Matt Cutts role. In fact, later in the discussion, he referred to the initial leave as the “official” leave, implying that the one he’s now on is open-ended. Laporte asked him if he has the ability at the company to just do something different if he wants to. He said, “The interesting thing is that at Google they try to get you and go do different projects, so the product managers, they encourage you to rotate every two or three years, and so it’s relatively rare to find people who have been around forever in a specific area. You’ll find Amit [Singhal] in search, Sridhar [Ramaswamy], you know, some of these people that are really, really senior, you know – higher ranking than me for sure – they do stick around in one area, but a lot of other people jump to different parts of the company to furnish different skills and try different things, which is a pretty good idea, I think.” Again, it sounds like he would really like to do something different within the company. He also reiterated his confidence in the current webspam team. On his “colleagues” (he prefers that term to “minions”), he said, “I just have so much admiration for you know, for example, last year, there was a real effort on child porn because of some stuff that happened in the United Kingdom, and a lot of people chipped in, and that is not an easy job at all. So you really have to think hard about how you’re gonna try to tackle this kind of thing.” Jeff Jarvis, who was also on the show, asked Cutts what other things interest him. Cutts responded, “Oh man, I was computer graphics and actually inertial trackers and accelerometers in grad school. At one point I said, you know, you could use commodity hardware, but as a grad student, you don’t have access to influence anybody’s minds, so why don’t I just go do something else for ten years, and somebody else will come up with all these sensors, and sure enough, you’ve got Kinect, you have the Wii, you know, the iPhone. Now everybody’s got a computer in their pocket that can do 3D sensing as long as write the computer programs well. So there’s all kinds of interesting stuff you could do.” Will we see Matt working on the Android team? As a matter of fact, Laporte followed that up by mentioning Andy Rubin – the guy who created Android and brought it to Google – leaving the company. News of that came out last week . Matt later said, “I’ll always have a connection and soft spot for Google…” That’s actually a bit more mysterious of a comment. I don’t want to put any words in the guy’s mouth, but to me, that sounds like he’s not married to the company for the long haul. Either way, webmasters are already getting used to getting updates and helpful videos from Googlers like Pierre Far and John Mueller. We’ve already seen Google roll out new Panda and Penguin updates since Cutts has been on leave, and the SEO world hasn’t come crumbling down. I’m guessing Cutts is getting less hate mail these days. He must have been getting tired of disgruntled website owners bashing him online all the time. It’s got to be nice to not have to deal with that all the time. As I said at the beginning of the article, it’s really not clear what Matt’s future holds, so all we can really do is listen to what he’s said, and look for him to update people further on his plans. In the meantime, if you miss him, you can peruse the countless webmaster videos and comments he’s made over the years that we’ve covered here . Do you expect Matt Cutts to return to search in any capacity? Do you expect him to return to Google? Should he? Do you miss him already? Let us know what you think .

Jul 7 2014

Matt Cutts Is Disappearing For A While

Just ahead of the holiday weekend, Google’s head of webspam Matt Cutts announced that he is taking leave from Google through at least October, which means we shouldn’t be hearing from him (at least about Google) for at least three months or so. That’s a pretty significant amount of time when you consider how frequently Google makes announcements and changes things up. Is the SEO industry ready for three Matt Cutts-less months? Cutts explains on his personal blog : I wanted to let folks know that I’m about to take a few months of leave. When I joined Google, my wife and I agreed that I would work for 4-5 years, and then she’d get to see more of me. I talked about this as recently as last month and as early as 2006. And now, almost fifteen years later I’d like to be there for my wife more. I know she’d like me to be around more too, and not just physically present while my mind is still on work. So we’re going to take some time off for a few months. My leave starts next week. Currently I’m scheduled to be gone through October. Thanks to a deep bench of smart engineers and spam fighters, the webspam team is in more-than-capable hands. Seriously, they’re much better at spam fighting than I am, so don’t worry on that score. He says he wont’ be checking his work email at all while he’s on leave, but will have some of his outside email forwarded to “a small set of webspam folks,” noting that they won’t be replying. Cutts is a frequent Twitter user, and didn’t say whether or not he’ll be staying off there, but either way, I wouldn’t expect him to tweet much about search during his leave. If you need to reach Google on a matter that you would have typically tried to go to Matt Cutts about, he suggests webmaster forums, Office Hours Hangouts, the Webmaster Central Twitter account, the Google Webmasters Google+ account, or or trying other Googlers. He did recently pin this tweet from 2010 to the top of his timeline: When you've got 5 minutes to fill, Twitter is a great way to fill 35 minutes. — Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 11, 2010 So far, he hasn’t stopped tweeting, but his latest – from six hours ago – is just about his leave: I got my inbox down to zero for a shiny moment, then unpinned and closed the tab with work email: http://t.co/o7zBOvskBE — Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) July 7, 2014 That would seem to suggest he doesn’t plan to waste much of his time off on Twitter. So what will Matt be doing while he’s gone? Taking a ballroom dance class with his wife, trying a half-Iornman race, and going on a cruise. He says they might also do some additional traveling ahead of their fifteen-year wedding anniversary, and will spend more time with their parents. Long story short, leave Cutts alone. He’s busy. Image via YouTube

Aug 9 2013

Here’s A New Google Video About Hidden Text And Keyword Stuffing

Okay, one more. Google cranked out seven new Webmaster Help videos feature Matt Cutts (and in some cases, other Googlers) talking about various types of webspam. So far, we’ve looked at three videos about unnatural links, one about thin content, one about user-generated spam and one about pure spam. You can find them all here . Finally, on to hidden text and/or keyword stuffing. This, like much of the content found in the other videos is pretty basic stuff and pretty common SEO knowledge, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable information to some.

Jul 10 2013

Google On How Not To Do Guest Posts

Google’s view of guest blog posts has come up in industry conversation several times this week. As far as I can tell this started with an article at HisWebMarketing.com by Marie Haynes, and now Google’s Matt Cutts has been talking about it in a new interview with Eric Enge . Haynes’ post, titled, “Yes, high quality guest posts CAN get you penalized!” shares several videos of Googlers talking about the subject. The first is on old Matt Cutts Webmaster Help video that we’ve shared in the past . In that, Cutts basically said that it can be good to have a reputable, high quality writer do guest posts on your site, and that it can be a good way for some lesser-known writers to generate exposure, but… “Sometimes it get taken to extremes. You’ll see people writing…offering the same blog post multiple times or spinning the blog posts, offering them to multiple outlets. It almost becomes like low-quality article banks.” “When you’re just doing it as a way to sort of turn the crank and get a massive number of links, that’s something where we’re less likely to want to count those links,” he said. The next video Haynes points to is a Webmaster Central Hangout from February: When someone in the video says they submit articles to the Huffington Post, and asks if they should nofollow the links to their site, Google’s John Mueller says, “Generally speaking, if you’re submitting articles for your website, or your clients’ websites and you’re including links to those websites there, then that’s probably something I’d nofollow because those aren’t essentially natural links from that website.” Finally, Haynes points to another February Webmaster Central hangout: In that one, when a webmaster asks if it’s okay to get links to his site through guest postings, Mueller says, “Think about whether or not this is a link that would be on that site if it weren’t for your actions there. Especially when it comes to guest blogging, that’s something where you are essentially placing links on other people’s sites together with this content, so that’s something I kind of shy away from purely from a linkbuilding point of view. I think sometimes it can make sense to guest blog on other peoples’ sites and drive some traffic to your site because people really liked what you are writing and they are interested in the topic and they click through that link to come to your website but those are probably the cases where you’d want to use something like a rel=nofollow on those links.” Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land wrote about Haynes’ post , and now Enge has an interview out with Cutts who elaborates more on Google’s philosophy when it comes to guest posts (among other things). Enge suggests that when doing guest posts, you create high-quality articles and get them published on “truly authoritative” sites that have a lot of editorial judgment, and Cutts agrees. He says, “The problem is that if we look at the overall volume of guest posting we see a large number of people who are offering guest blogs or guest blog articles where they are writing the same article and producing multiple copies of it and emailing out of the blue and they will create the same low quality types of articles that people used to put on article directory or article bank sites.” “If people just move away from doing article banks or article directories or article marketing to guest blogging and they don’t raise their quality thresholds for the content, then that can cause problems,” he adds. “On one hand, it’s an opportunity. On the other hand, we don’t want people to think guest blogging is the panacea that will solve all their problems.” Enge makes an interesting point about accepting guest posts too, suggesting that if you have to ask the author to share with their own social accounts, you shouldn’t accept the article. Again, Cutts agrees, saying, “That’s a good way to look at it. There might be other criteria too, but certainly if someone is proud to share it, that’s a big difference than if you’re pushing them to share it.” Both agree that interviews are good ways to build links and authority. In a separate post on his Search Engine Roundtable blog, Schwartz adds: You can argue otherwise but if Google sees a guest blog post with a dofollow link and that person at Google feels the guest blog post is only done with the intent of a link, then they may serve your site a penalty. Or they may not – it depends on who is reviewing it. That being said, Google is not to blame. While guest blogging and writing is and can be a great way to get exposure for your name and your company name, it has gotten to the point of being heavily abused. He points to one SEO’s story in a Cre8asite forum thread about a site wanting to charge him nearly five grand for one post. Obviously this is the kind of thing Google would frown upon when it comes to link building and links that flow PageRank. Essentially, these are just paid links, and even if more subtle than the average advertorial (which Google has been cracking down on in recent months), in the end it’s still link buying. But there is plenty of guest blogging going on out there in which no money changes hands. Regardless of your intensions, it’s probably a good idea to just stick the nofollows on if you want to avoid getting penalized by Google. If it’s still something you want to do without the SEO value as a consideration, there’s a fair chance it’s the kind of content Google would want anyway.

Apr 15 2013

Matt Cutts Thinks You Should Consider Giving Up News

An interesting Twitter exchange between Googlers Matt Cutts and Tim Bray: Follow @mattcutts Matt Cutts @mattcutts A great article about why you should consider giving up news: http://t.co/p32BilNFxc   Follow @timbray Tim Bray @timbray @mattcutts Except for, the world is run by people who care about what’s going on in it. Want to be one of them, or not?   Follow @mattcutts Matt Cutts @mattcutts @timbray all I know is the two times I’ve given up news/social media for 30 days have been among my most productive months.   Reply  ·   Retweet  ·   Favorite 10 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto If you follow the adventures of Matt Cutts, you no doubt know that he regularly engages in “30 day challenges,” in which he spends a month focusing on some goal. For January, his challenge was “no news, no Twitter, fewer emails, and no social media in general”). It was a quiet time for Google algorithm update news to say the least. “In general, when I wanted to hop onto Techmeme or Google News or Hacker News or Twitter/Nuzzel, instead I opened up my to-do list,” Cutts wrote of his experience. “As a result, I got a ton of stuff done in January. I quickly learned that if something important was happening, I’d hear about it from someone else.” The article Cutts points to in the tweet above comes from The Guardian, and is called, “News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier”. According to that, news: misleads, is irrelevant, has no explanatory power, is toxic to your body, increases cognitive errors, inhibits thinking, works like a drug, wastes time, makes us passive, and kills creativity. It’s an interesting read. I’ll give it that.