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What do you learn from Matt Cutts?


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#1 Nadir

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 08:40 PM

Like most of other SEOs or webmaster, I always check out Matt Cutts' blog. Today, I asked myself: damn, what am I really learning from that guy? :(
For those who want to see what I mean, please see his last post called "SEO mistakes".

Most of his last posts were dealing with people who did spam and who got banned. I enjoy the fact that Google is actively working against spam but why would I want to see an example of spam. You can just say that you're working hard against spam: to prove it, just show me relevant results, that will work for me.
IMO, his blog looks just like sensational newspapers.

He seems to enjoy publishing the identity of these guys so that everyone can come to his site and blame them, but ALSO to show their zeal for him.
In the middle ages, witches were executed in public in Europe, most of the villages' population turned out to witness it, that was an opportunity for them to entertain themselves. Is that the kind of sensation you want to create Matt?

I'm not saying that his blog is useless, it's just that it presents some useless information for any webmaster that is trying to improve his rankings. Instead, why don't you talk about a website that is well optimized so that you can educate people on things that work? I'm sure less people will be tempted to use spam if you were doing that.


<<Admin note: I discussed this post with Nadir and have decided to leave it unedited. His interest is in understanding the motives behind some of the posts presented by Matt Cutts regarding procedures and SEO examples of what not to do. It's an opinion post, but is not targeted or intended to be a personal attack. We'll monitor the thread to make sure it stays on topic and is considerate to the blog owner, who may not be a member of this community. Kim/Cre8pc.>>

#2 ignat

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 10:34 PM

Nadir,

I am so happy you brought this up since I've been a bit hesitant to do so myself. I enjoy reading Matt's blog simply because I think he has an interesting writing style and communicates well. I get a lot more SEO related information from visiting forums such as this one or from reading blogs which in my opinion, are much better and more informative than Matt's.

I guess when his blog was announced my large expectations gradually decreased as I began seeing information I either already knew or simply didn't care for (I wonder why he was named best SEO blog of 2005, personally, I enjoy reading SEOmoz much more...).

Now on to exposing spamers. Matt is taking a very interesting approach by revealing identities of sites that have misbehaved with Google. My own common sense tells me to be more considerate to such websites, they have already been banned by Google, why destroy their image as well. Perhaps I am more forgiving when it comes to situations such as this.

We all do have to keep in mind that what Matt does is his own initiative and in no way does it have anything to do with what actually goes on at Google. I just wish he posted some more useful material as opposed to what I already know :(

Edited by ignat, 31 December 2005 - 10:36 PM.


#3 Nadir

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 11:03 PM

Thanks Ignat. Matt Cutts can do whatever he wants in his blog. My real concern is that he calls the category that I was talking about: "Google/SEO" while it became more a pub conversation where anyone comes to make his comments about the last criminal arrest in town...

Most people said that Matt Cutts' goal was to communicate with the SEO community, well, I'm not a spammer so I don't really feel like he's communicating with me...

#4 ignat

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 11:47 PM

Matt is in the wrong by missplacing spam reports to Google/SEO category. SEO is not about hidden text or rankings highjacking and it is certainly not about making an example out of sites that employ this technique.

I am very curious how this thread developes. Let's generate some material for further discussions.

#5 Ruud

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 04:25 AM

what am I really learning from that guy?


When you follow theories about Google, read their patents, read the forums, and keep track of what Google people murmur here and there you get investigative SEO.

Take the sandbox for example. Everybody was speculating what it was or if it was. In that sea of theories and statements, a good number of them wild ones, it was good to piece together the facts from a word here, a sentence there. The sandbox is a side effect of a filter set. That filter set was not thought out to act the way it does but seeing how effective it is in curbing certain forms of SEO-spam, Google is quite happy with both the intended and additional effect. The sandbox is not something that happens out of the blue on a by default basis: sites have to actively trigger some of the filters involved.

It is in this manner of "glimpses of reality" that I approach Matt's content, both in his blog as well his statements elsewhere.

To me the whole SEO Mistakes serie is part of a bigger picture. It's a reverse look at what Google can see.

Tell me about your backlinks:

I have full access to all my spam detective and debugging tools that I know and love. […]

The main point I want to get across is that in 1-2 minutes, it was easy to tell whether a site was (over)doing reciprocal links or trying to buy links. […]

At the point when in a minute of typing, I can say: you guys are both trying to buy backlinks, and I can tell that you’re buying them from the same network, and here’s an example page from ketv.com where both of you are even on the same page, and it’s not doing you any good at all: that just made my day.


Look at what he exactly is able to tell them. Look at the fact that he is able to tell this about both reciprocal links as well as paid links. No matter if you held any of this as a theory before: this is as close to factual as you can get with Google. Priceless. If this was the only post of the kind on his blog in the whole of 2005 it would still be worth checking back regularly.

Text link follow-up:

Google’s stance on selling links is pretty clear and we’re pretty accurate at spotting them, both algorithmically and manually. Sites that sell links can lose their trust in search engines. […]

[…] take one of Jeremy’s sponsors, www.thisisouryear.com. Can you get from that site to the “Lesbian Gay Sex Positions” site at www.gay-sex-positions.com in two mouse clicks? Looks like there may be some scraped content on that porn site. […]

So, other than the two-clicks-to-scraped-lesbian-porn, how many people could have guessed everything I was going to say?


Interesting. So that paid link index (or do the recips and paid ones go into the same index?) is also kept up to date manually. Why does Matt mention the two-clicks-to-scraped-lesbian-porn? Why does he mention "scraped content" specifically?

With the two above posts I already have more information than many discussions on what Google can and cannot do provide.

Alerting site owners to problems

Dear site owner or webmaster of http://www.chefrevival.com.au/,
While we were indexing your webpages, we detected that some of your
pages were using techniques that were outside our quality guidelines,
which can be found here […]

Specifically, we detected the following practices on your webpages:
On http://www.chefrevival.com.au/, we noticed the following hidden text: […]


In SEO Mistakes: Not checking your site Matt answers Gwen whose site has already been stripped of PR and dropped from the index:

Gwen, your problem wasn’t link bombing or anything else. Your problem was hidden text. Here’s what your site looked like before: […]


He goes on to mention a lot of other things with that and her other sites - but what stands out is that before he took a personal look at the site the site had already been dropped (not his action), that he is able to tell why it has been dropped, and that he is able to have a look at her site as it was at the time that the penalty was enacted. The unspoken statement is; Google can detect hidden text. And nearly hidden is apparently not a good idea either.


Let's piece together some more stuff.

Unwise comments:

[…] “Insert your hidden text here. Do not forget to [embiggen] your keywords.” I don’t recommend that people use CSS to hide text, and I don’t recommend that they document it, either. ;)


Software mistakes:

Notice the pink text? That’s where someone was supposed to fill in their own name or other details. […] Now at the point where people are buying SEO software and turning right around and trying to sell it again without modifying even a template HTML page, what’s your opinion of that software?


Sketchy testimonials:

[…] without even modifying an HTML template. Let’s play with that some more. Do an exact search for [“then delete this pink text”]. You can find lots of software packages where no one has bothered to update a template: […]

But my favorite has to be all those testimonials. […]

These testimonials are for “example purposes only,” but are they real? I have no idea. But here’s a web page where the same people wax enthusiastic about a different product: […]

Okay, now let’s take a completely different example. Here’s one where the testimonial is left blank except for a default of “Monterey, CA”: […]

Now let’s find that software package template on other sites. Hey, there’s a couple! […]


Except for where it concerns his social posts, I don't believe Matt is posting outside of what keeps him busy, what he works on, works with. When he opens his mouth and talks long enough he cannot help but show glimpses of what is going on in his world. Are the above a lame serie on SEO software? Or are we talking about fingerprints?

The great thing is that his posts on SEO provide level-headed advice to newcomers and site owners who do their own self-taught SEO while at the same time in the end providing enough meat to be interesting for us.

As for him publicly calling out link networks and spam(my) sites… I think that as long as Google has a cuddly set of guidelines and says "tsk tsk tsk" a different picture is brought across then when in a somewhat roundabout way we see "it is this link network" and "that site did this wrong". I think Google has been sending clear messages on what they will and will not accept from the SEO community at large. The paid link discussion has basically been put to rest, for example. Google has publicly stated what it will accept and it has informally shown what it can know and how it will deal with that knowledge.

Matt Cutts? Great :) Every Google employee should have a blog and post as much as possible about what keeps them busy. Just keep on talking :)

#6 kensplace

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 06:41 PM

Non of what mat cutts states on his blog should be taken as gospel when it comes to what google does, or thinks.

This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.


He specifically states they are his views, not the views of google.

Looks to me, he is either using google as a means of publicity, as if he was not loudly proclaiming google everywhere not that many people would be reading his blog, OR google is using bloggers in a attempt to throw out tidbits of information, unoficially, and covering its back by making sure the bloggers say it is there opinion, not googles. That way, google is not officially saying anything, to anyone....

Either way, until google says something official on SEO, they are just contributing to problems that exist, namely utter confusion, lack of standards, guesswork etc, and whatever mat says is just his opinion, and as he usually just touches the surface on topics he often ends up creating a lot of confusion about seo.

Just look at the comments on the blog, its clear to see he has confused so many people, people who dont want to "do wrong" but just cant make head nor tails of what he is going on about, as he does not go into the details required to make informed decisions.

Thats up to him, its his blog, he can blog whatever he wants, and his blog is very readable, but a problem does come about because people think it is a GOOGLE blog - which it is not. Nothing on that blog is official from google.

Its nice to see blogs from google, but I would rather the employees concentrated on getting results rather than blogging.

As i stated in a previous post, its great matt cutts is blogging, but its pointless if google doesnt work for me, which most of the time it does not - google adsense has been down recently, analytics has had problems,google base is up and down like a yo-yo, so is blogspot, and the search results from google look like the quality control staff spend all day blogging rather than removing all the spam sites.

Edited by kensplace, 01 January 2006 - 06:52 PM.


#7 Nadir

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 07:00 PM

Hehe, Ruud, I was sure someone was going to come up with that kind of post. :) I should have been more clear and precisely define what I was concerned about.
That would have allowed you to save your time, I'm sure it took you a long time to show me that Matt Cutts does provide us with interesting information.

When I said: "What am I really learning from that guy?", it was more an ironical question than an attempt to discredit Matt Cutt's blog. I do learn things on his blog, from time to time, but his lately posts didn't seem to bring anything interesting in a SE0 perspective. I am a SEO and reading him talking about spammy sites that have been caught doesn't bring me anything useful, that's why I asked "Does he give you any SEO advices?". Yes he did lighten our minds when he talked about the sandbox by saying that there is filters, that kind of stuff is interesteing, but personally, I really don't see what any SEO can benefit from him showing us how he found a spammy website. Neither by talking about lame SEO software or any other fishy stuff. That's only my point of view, the point of view of a webmaster who needs to learn how he can make his sites more SE friendly.

But if people say they find something useful in his last posts, I have nothing against that, some are only looking for SEO advices, some seem to be interested in how Google can detect spammers and enjoy coming to his site to see examples and also write a few comments to blame spammers: what an entertaining moment!

If I am concerned about his comments about spammers, it's because they are both not educative and they resemble sensational newspapers: the kind of articles where people are publically mocked. Also, why does he have to publish the identity (url) of the spammers? Who cares? If his goal is to help the spammer being indexed anew, he could simply write him an email...
Even if his intent is not to create excitement amongst his readers, that's not what I perceive when reading comments made by the readers: most of them just come to drop insults to the spammer and also to act like they are the most upright webmasters.

Quote from one of Matt Cutts' fan after his post "SEO Mistakes: Not checking your site":

"Wow, busted. :)

I think a lot of people claim ignorance once they get caught or they don’t keep up with the trends and think that keyword stuffing still works. "


Or:

"Jesus! That is bad.

I did start to feel a little sorry for you Gwen, at first believing that whoever built your site was perhaps naive. I mean there are a lot of “homebrew” looking sites out there, but what set’s most of these apart from yours is the age factor. Years ago people built sites like yours because it was the norm.

A lot has changed in Google since those ‘heady’ days and sites like yours have played a major part in that.

There’s a lot more going on than just hidden text that i can see and no way is that naive, innocent or accidental.

I think the best advice any self respecting SEO would give you would be to rip it up and start again. "


Or

" Matt I’m VERY confused here.. query this: site:faucetandsinkconnection.com

They have a huge number of listings. Support has said many times that if you show up with site:site.com command you _know_ you are _not_ penalized and reinclusion is a waste of time. Please clarify what a reinclusion can do in this case since they are already in the index! "


I didn't take time to choose this comments, they are all similar... Very informative, isn't it? Someone might say that it's not Matt's intent to create that kind of excitement but then, why does he leave that kind of comments on his blog? By not moderating the comments, he got me thinking that his goal is to create sensation amongst his readers (or fans).


You said you find useful information in his last post "SEO Mistakes: Not checking your site", you explained in one sentence what we should understand from his comments:

The unspoken statement is; Google can detect hidden text.


Cool, that shows that Google's algorithm is able to detect a white text on a white background, for anyone following the evolution of Google's technology, that's great! But can you tell me what you, or any SEO, concretely learn from this statement? Is that maybe a good information for SEOs who tried to fool Google? People who do that don't know anything about SEO, they are just amateur webmasters trying to use shortcuts to get high rankings. Any person that is willing to optimize his site for Google has to first read their guidelines (or their patents for those who have the time), they are pretty clear about things that are not accepted:

Quality Guidelines - Specific recommendations:

    * Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
    * Don't employ cloaking or sneaky redirects.
    * Don't send automated queries to Google.
    * Don't load pages with irrelevant words.
    * Don't create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.
    * Avoid "doorway" pages created just for search engines, or other "cookie cutter" approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content. "


Now, Matt Cutts in his blog shows examples of spammy websites and notifies us that Google is able to detect them. Cool, it's good for someone to get confirmation directly from a Google employee, but I'm sorry, I don't see how instructive that kind of post is.

Ruud, you're saying that for you, his posts are not intended to be sensational, you say you have to read between the lines to understand the SEO tip of the day. Well, I don't know, I guess I need to get used to his writing way, as I can't seem to find anything useful in some of his posts. (Again, I'm not saying that I'm waiting for Matt Cutts to give me SEO tips, it's just that I give my opinion on his posts in a SEO perspective)
On another post: SEO Mistakes: crappy doorway pages, can you tell me how I should understand his intent when he writes:

Warning: this post is not safe for work, children, or pets. It contains strong language and the word “assclown.” Mom and Dad, stop reading this blog entry now. It wasn’t me; Jeremy started it.

Okay, spam-reading posse, ready to roll? This time, I’m going to cover two spammer mistakes in one post. Take a look at www.rosaevelien.com in Internet Explorer. Looks fine, right? Something like this:


Does this post look like it's going to teach me something or just show me how Officer Cutts managed to catch another spammer?

Ok, another thing that irritates me, why does he have to take the example of Jeremy Zawodny when he writes a post about the danger of buying/selling links. Did we need to precisely hear the example of the Yahoo! employee to understand his advices when it comes to get links? How should, us, Google users, react when reading that precise example of Yahoo's employee?...

#8 JohnMu

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 07:18 PM

There are several things which I feel a bit queezy about with Matt Cutts blog:

- It looks like Matt has to personally take a lot of manual action. Matt has to personally (or whoever does it for him) find these things and manually take action against them. So he found a page with hidden text from a cheap web-designer / seo -- he goes and gives the web-designer's site a penalty. Manual action. How many spam sites are out there? G-Man mentioned he had 0.5 billion pages - how long will it take Matt (and 1000 clones of him) to manually ban those? It's not possible. The dog chasing 1000 tails...

That leads me to
- FUD. Spreading "Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt" among the black-hat readers (or at least those who are partly grey, interested in it, commercially active, etc.). He's manually banning sites, but trying to make it sound like Google does it with it's algorithm ("Google recognizes / discounts paid links": Complete B.S. - how can they recognize them?). That part really upsets me, because he acts like he is talking for Google, but really only talking for himself, from his dreams. At least that's my take on it. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but Google is still filled with obvious spam that an algorithm should be able to weed out, if it is as advanced as he makes it sound. (it really gets me wound up and I have to restrain myself to not start ranting :-)).

- I also don't like the style how he pulls spammers through the dirt. Sure, they're doing something nobody likes (or at least trying to make a buck in a way that people least expect, using their creativity to lead people to click things without realizing it is "paid for"). But the way he writes it up is just below the belt. Yes, it's his personal style and has nothing to do with official public relations for Google, but intermixing this with "Google this" and "Google that" gives the whole site + company a cheap image. I have always respected and liked Google as a whole, but after reading his entries in his blog, I am slowly revising my image - he acts like an arrogant pr*** (in my opinion). And in the next entry he's out having a drink and smoke, smiling, with the "blackhat spammer hammer".

I like his gadget reviews, though. :)

John

#9 Ruud

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 07:49 PM

[…] his lately posts didn't seem to bring anything interesting in a SE0 perspective. […] I really don't see what any SEO can benefit from him showing us how he found a spammy website. Neither by talking about lame SEO software or any other fishy stuff.
That's only my point of view, the point of view of a webmaster who needs to learn how he can make his sites more SE friendly.


I don't think it was now or ever Matt's intent to run a site with free SEO tips. So if you come to his blog to learn how to make your sites more SE friendly not only the last posts are useless to you but virtually all of them are. Which post on his blog has in the past provided you with that information, from your point of view?

What puzzles me though is that you argue for SEO educational posts but when on the topic of hidden text you then complain:

Is that maybe a good information for SEOs who tried to fool Google? People who do that don't know anything about SEO, they are just amateur webmasters trying to use shortcuts to get high rankings.


So Matt should make SEO-related, education posts but on your level - not for newcomers, beginners, DIY-ers?

In Matt's defense; he has never stated that his blog is educational. Nor do I think should the comments be confused with the post. Especially if we would slide from "non-informative post" into "non-informative comment"…

As for myself, I have the impression you haven't read my post or followed my line of reasoning. I get that impression from a comment such as this one:

You said you find useful information in his last post "SEO Mistakes: Not checking your site", you explained in one sentence what we should understand from his comments:


That's simply wrong.

When I read that post I remembered his quote from a spam alert email Google sends out. That email mentioned hidden text. This post specifically mentions hidden text. The suggestion in his first post that Google is able to spot hidden text and bans for it is confirmed with the latter "not checking your site" post. What I found interesting from the post taken on its own is, and I quote from my previous post, "that before he took a personal look at the site the site had already been dropped (not his action), that he is able to tell why it has been dropped, and that he is able to have a look at her site as it was at the time that the penalty was enacted."

Ruud, you're saying that for you, his posts are not intended to be sensational, you say you have to read between the lines to understand the SEO tip of the day.


Again simply wrong.

I haven't made a statement on whether or not I consider his posts sensational. I don't know where you get that from. Nor do I say you have to read between the lines. Perhaps I have simply failed to communicate how I read his blog? Could be. When I read Matt's blog I can't help but remember previous posts and statements he has made. I read his posts and statements in a larger context than that one single post. By grouping several posts together in my previous reply I attempted to show how that process works for me. I'm sorry if that either doesn't come across clear enough or, if it did come across, still delivers no value to you.

As for the repeated questions about the spammer-posts and why he calls them out by name, I quote; "As for him publicly calling out link networks and spam(my) sites… I think that as long as Google has a cuddly set of guidelines and says "tsk tsk tsk" a different picture is brought across then when in a somewhat roundabout way we see "it is this link network" and "that site did this wrong". I think Google has been sending clear messages on what they will and will not accept from the SEO community at large. The paid link discussion has basically been put to rest, for example. Google has publicly stated what it will accept and it has informally shown what it can know and how it will deal with that knowledge."

So, to wrap it up hopefully beyond doubt:

- Yes, I'm able to extract little tidbits of information from Matt's posts when read in a larger context
- No, I don't think Matt runs an SEO course for beginning or advanced SEO-ers
- I think Matt's calling out spammer sites serves a specific purpose

I had wanted to add this to my previous post but thought it would not be needed. Maybe it is so let me add the following: I don't take Matt's post for Google-gospel, I may or may not agree or believe in the tidbits I said to have extracted from his site. And finally, it is not my personal style to call out spammer sites the way he has been doing but within context I find him calling out paid link networks he doesn't agree with much more harming. An obvious spam site is one thing, but a link network is a normal business model. Ruining it "just like that" is one step beyond.

#10 Ron Carnell

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 09:38 PM

If I am concerned about his comments about spammers, it's because they are both not educative and they resemble sensational newspapers: the kind of articles where people are publically mocked.

Nadir, some might say pretty much the same thing about this whole thread.

Are you educating anyone? Couldn't you have explored the benefits (or lack of benefits) of SEO blogs without any need "to publish the identity (url)" of the blogger? I don't think it would be a great stretch for someone to suggest that attacking Matt Cuts smacks of sensationalism or that your criticisms are tantamount to public mocking.

I guess I just don't understand why you should hold Matt to a higher standard than you hold yourself?

#11 Nadir

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 10:12 PM

Nope! I don't come to Matt Cutts blog to get my SEO tips for the day, but I do learn things that made me review the way I manage my sites.

Which post on his blog has in the past provided you with that information, from your point of view?


Quite a few I would say:
-how to file a reinclusion request,
-inform us of the updates going on so we know how to explain what's going on to the clients,
-how to change a host properly,
-purchased links will be penalized if detected and if they don't have the nofollow attribute...

I agree though, these are not "tips", I should have said advices, warnings or just information.

In a SEO point of view, that's one of the best information you can get regarding Google, isn't it?

Many SEOs read his blog and they know why... Then a few people say that he's a puppet, I'm not sure about that, I think he personally enjoys communicating with SEOers. But that's just my opinion...

So Matt should make SEO-related, education posts but on your level - not for newcomers, beginners, DIY-ers?


You're right on that one, sorry for forgetting that point. :) But I doubt a lot of his readers learn something new with the hidden text post.

I said:

You said you find useful information in his last post "SEO Mistakes: Not checking your site", you explained in one sentence what we should understand from his comments:


You replied

That's simply wrong.


Again, that's the problem with online communications that I hate, no tone of voice, no face-to-face, I have to admit that I misinterpreted your comments, I thought that you were saying that Matt Cutts was implicitly giving useful information behind his spam reports...

I said:

Ruud, you're saying that for you, his posts are not intended to be sensational, you say you have to read between the lines to understand the SEO tip of the day.


You replied:

Again simply wrong.


Damn! Wrong again! I came up with that sentence because of what I thought you were saying:

Except for where it concerns his social posts, I don't believe Matt is posting outside of what keeps him busy, what he works on, works with. When he opens his mouth and talks long enough he cannot help but show glimpses of what is going on in his world.


This is how I understood it: "I don't think Matt Cutts is blogging to write sensational posts..." I guess it's not what you meant, right?

Anyway, the bottom line of my post was that I don't see in what his last posts about spam (and when he publishes the url and the name of the spammer) can be of interest for a SEO, or a webmaster, or anyone related to the Internet business.

I agree at 110% that that's his blog, he can do whatever he wants, if he wants to give us fishing lessons, heck, go for it!
The intent of my post was also to understand if there was any information in his last posts that can be useful for me, and that other people maybe have seen, but that I didn't.
So, my question "Does he give you SEO advices?" has to be put in its proper context.

I asked this question to SEOs who can tell me if the fact that Matt Cutts shows examples of spam can help, if the answer is no: fine! That was my question.


PS: Ron, I'm not trying to create sensation myself, this post is not an attempt to criticize Matt Cutts, I even asked him the same question on his blog before asking a feedback from the folks here.

#12 ignat

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 10:55 PM

What kind of confuses me is this:

SE Journal

And the winner of the Best SEO Blog of 2005 Award is :
Matt Cutts Blog


Huh? Is Matt's Blog indeed better than SEO Book, SEO Moz, or SEO black hat? Sure Matt can be used as a good source for explaining Sandbox, link trading/buying, and hidden text to clients and beginner SEOs simply by saying "hey, here's a guy that works for Google and this is what he's saying."

Matt's site has been up since August and the quantity of SEO related information that is useful to professional SEOs is very thin. I think Nadir is asking the community "what do we all learn from Matt?" As far as SEO is concerned, I learn URLs of sites that used hidden text and for some reason were filed under Google/SEO. But do keep in mind that this is Matt's personal blog and 1/12th of all categories is dedicated to Google/SEO. So does Matt deserve to be the best SEO blog? I don't know, maybe just because he's working for Google puts him above all SEOs, but then again, he does a good (and mildly entertaining) job of explaining that what he writes about in no way reflects Google's views or policies.

Edited by ignat, 01 January 2006 - 10:56 PM.


#13 Ruud

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 10:59 PM

Except for where it concerns his social posts, I don't believe Matt is posting outside of what keeps him busy, what he works on, works with. When he opens his mouth and talks long enough he cannot help but show glimpses of what is going on in his world.


This is how I understood it: "I don't think Matt Cutts is blogging to write sensational posts..." I guess it's not what you meant, right?


Erm… indeed. This is within the context of me saying "Let's piece together some more stuff." I mention 3 posts and explain with the above statement why I think they somehow reflect on the work Matt does…

It's been hard to determine what you're actual question is. From your posts:

- what am I really learning from that guy?
- My real concern is that he calls the category that I was talking about: "Google/SEO" while it became more a pub conversation where anyone comes to make his comments about the last criminal arrest in town.
- When I said: "What am I really learning from that guy?", it was more an ironical question than an attempt to discredit Matt Cutt's blog. I do learn things on his blog, from time to time, but his lately posts didn't seem to bring anything interesting in a SE0 perspective. I am a SEO and reading him talking about spammy sites that have been caught doesn't bring me anything useful, that's why I asked "Does he give you any SEO advices?".
- why does he have to publish the identity (url) of the spammers? Who cares?
- why does he leave that kind of comments on his blog?
- I asked this question to SEOs who can tell me if the fact that Matt Cutts shows examples of spam can help, if the answer is no: fine! That was my question.

If the last iteration of your question is the right one then I wonder what it matters. Do you feel you might be missing something in there that should have been apparent to you? If not, then those posts are useless to you and them possibly being useful to others will not make it any more interesting to you.

#14 Gurtie

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 04:01 AM

what we're learning from Matts blog is that Matt is very skilled at PR and manipulating small webmasters and would-be SEO's who believe that Google is the arbiter of all things search :D

Its an interesting read and everyone can pick things up from it though. Firstly because he is genuinely interesting to read and, obviously, knows his stuff, and secondly because knowing what Google clearly want people to believe and where that seems to differ from reality, or seeing what comments Matt replies to and what he ignores, is a valuable lesson in itself, imho.

But some of the comments scare me. If thats what he has to put up with at conferences then he deserves every penny he earns and then some.

#15 kensplace

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 04:17 AM

Nadir, when you say

-purchased links will be penalized if detected and if they don't have the nofollow attribute...


does that not give a classic example of how the blog causes confusion?

From that I would assume that any purchased link will be penalised if it does not have the nofollow attribute.

Ok if that is the case, everyone that purchases links via googles adwords better start panicing......

Or is that a good example of how this sort of thing causes problems? [edit, unless google adsense uses nofollow, it may, Im just guessing, but Im sure not all paid for services like adwords use it, so the principle applies to many things]

Edited by kensplace, 02 January 2006 - 04:18 AM.


#16 ignat

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 04:18 AM

Currently what I extract from Matt's blog can be summorized very well here :D

Taking into the account information presently on the blog, how many would read his blog to this day? Personally, I wouldn't since I am not all that curious in "Places to eat in Silicon Valley" or any of the movie reviews he has to offer. As for gadget reviews, Engadget works just fine for me. Matt has a good sence of humor and sometimes he got the inside scoop on updates at Google, but consider this situation:

-Matt is an average joe blogger working 9-5 in a small office where he shuffles paper work. He has no relation to Google at all.
-He starts a blog to get away from all the shuffle and posts all the articles you see on it today. To get the word out, he joins a forum and hopes people will click a link in his signature.
-You accidentally click on it and fullfill Matt's dream of a "unique visitor".

Would you stick around and use his blog as an SEO resource?

#17 kensplace

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 04:24 AM

Nope.

Like I said earlier in the thread, if he didnt use the google aspect he would not be getting the reads he is now. Also, unless he is prepared to state the views he has are googles, then I personally think he should not pretend that what he says is how google does things - which is what personally I think he is doing.

#18 Nadir

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 04:31 AM

I didn't get what you said Ken?

does that not give a classic example of how the blog causes confusion?

From that I would assume that any purchased link will be penalised if it does not have the nofollow attribute.

Ok if that is the case, everyone that purchases links via googles adwords better start panicing......



#19 kensplace

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 04:54 AM

purchased links will be penalized if detected and if they don't have the nofollow attribute..


Google adsense adverts are paid for links.

Therefore anyone using adwords is purchasing paid for links.

#20 Nadir

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 04:59 AM

Hmmm, yes, but we were talking about organic rankings here...
While Google accepts most of the webmasters for Adsense, hyperlinks purchased directly from a website can supposedly be discredited and get the buyer's site penalized. That's different, if Google says that they don't accept purchased links in order to improve one's rankings, well, that's their right.

#21 kensplace

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 05:09 AM

But the quote doesnt say "if you say they don't accept purchased links in order to improve one's rankings"

It puts across a message all paid for links are bad.


In effect, thats like saying, I could run a major network that sells links, but as long as I dont say its for PR its fine, regardless of whether or not thats true.

He does not say that in his blog, unless I missed it, and I may have, as I am particular what I read.

A paid for link is a paid for link, and at the end of the day, they (google) need to be specific on what is acceptable.

His blog made me laugh (and I have depression, so thats a nice thing :D )

When he said he checked sites and found a couple of others with the same template thing, I thought to myself, cool - if i want to discredit a site, fools like this work at google, all people need to do is to make lots of sites that have similar things on them, to discredit other sites.

Course, thats just my opinion, but I have worked at large firms, and they are full of idiots, I have never met Matt cutts, and he is probably a great bloke, but I think his blog is not clear cutt...... Its designed to gain either him, or google, or both publicity.

#22 Black_Knight

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 07:52 AM

Matt Cutts is not an insignificant worker, doesn't work 9-5, and as a leader within Google, his personal qualities, goals, and convictions therefore have a significance in the actual steerings of aspects Google. In addition to that, the Google company have made it clear to all that he is their chosen representative to the webmaster community, year after year.

That's an important point.

That doesn't mean that everything he says and does is the collective wisdom of the entire Google management. But he is aware of the other personalities that steer Google, as well as his own important remit, and almost anything he says about Google specifically is as close to a public statement of policy as you're going to see.

Matt's blog is personal, and yet so is much of his work. I somehow doubt that Matt was given his position within Google as the result of a random draw of names from a hat. Matt was given his role because Matt himself (personally) was the best candidate for it.

If Matt's blog does nothing but give you insight into who Matt is, and what he is about, then that is itself already providing insight into what kind of man Google needed to perform his role.

One of those foremost things is his loyalty. He's a very friendly guy, but make no mistake at all that his first loyalty is to Google. He is not ever going to willingly give tips that could pollute the SERPs. He is going to put things in a way that shows Google and his work there in a good light.

So long as you accept that there absolutely would, and should, be a bias to what he says then his blog can give you good insights.

#23 SEO1

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 08:22 AM

Hi there

I would love to add to this discussion


Matt Cutts blog - Matt's is first and foremost a Gogle employee (puppet) and must toe the line. Simple as that. His information as noted is at times lackluster in teaching those who understand SEO proficiently.

There is of course good reason for that, as tight lipped Google, is not about to release advanced information that would allow people to tweak their sites for front page results.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------=

Displaying Adsense ads is not the same as buying a text link that directly links to your site.

However the theory is similar and I believe it is what leads people to misunderstand Google at times. Google in not being very communicative for years has let opposing thoughts linger long enough to create huge myths.

We should also ask ourselves why suddenly Google feels the need to have all these blogs online for people to use...

Too little too late I think as many alienated webmasters are not coming back to the flock.

Peace

#24 Adrian

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 08:34 AM

Also, why does he have to publish the identity (url) of the spammers? Who cares?


I'm not sure whether I entirely agree with it (sometimes the spamming is purely through ignorance and doesn't deserve the witch hunt it can produce) the 'naming and shaming' thing could be more effective at stopping some spammers. I can understand why he would do it.

what we're learning from Matts blog is that Matt is very skilled at PR


For an engineer he is huh. In his case, I don't mind so much. It's a bit like Scoble when he's actually writing well, you get more than just the standard marketing rubbish. It's all still biased, obviously, I defy anyone here to work for MS/Google, blog about it, and not be biased. If I blogged about any of the places I've worked previously, I'd be biased. I might still criticize them on some things, but overall I would be biased from the internal view I'd seen of them.

As long as you are aware of that, and therefore take things with a pinch of salt, and perhaps read some alternate view points to balance things out, I don't think there's too much of a problem with it.

I do think his 'outing spam' posts are useful to a lot of people. There are many many people who think they know SEO, when actually they know very little about it, but have learnt one technique, or tool, and end up making a load of easily spotable spam. Matt is making headway in defining some broad issues to a large number of people. And I don't know how much he will want to refine the answers, what Google classes on spam depends on what it finds. If something comes up that was fine before, but now is being spammed a lot, they are going to change things. And defining what is and isn't spam very tightly would just end up with people looking for 'loopholes'.

Generally I like Matt's blog, he's doing the kind of PR you don't see so much, and it is PR, whether it's a 'personal' blog or not. To me, that's just a get out clause for certain things.

#25 manager

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 10:29 AM

HI Nadir,

What do you learn from Matt Cutts?

Nothing !
To be honest, I’d never heard of him until your post, thanks for bringing is name to my attention.

TreV

#26 SEO1

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 12:47 PM

Loyalty - ahhh what a word

Most politicians have loyal people ...some who turn out to be crooked... that is not the politicians fault though unless he helped.

The mob had loyal people.....keyword = 'had'

Terrell Owens was loyal to the Philadelphia Eagles, nobody could argue that, broke his leg and fought hard to get back to the game when the team needed him most...he was loyal... till he didn't get his way.... then he bled them with a knife of evilness when not appeased.

By allowing an employee to become bigger than the team.. the Eagles ultimately killed themselves. Sergy, Brin you might want to think hard about this.

And haven't we seen a few corporations with loyal employees till said loyal employees infringe on company some way (blogging as of late), then said loyal employee is out the door looking for a new loyal employer (Of which there are none).

Matt's blog I think is a cross of personalism and the Google employee manual.

#27 ignat

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 02:22 PM

Google could have chosen Matt as an indirect representative, especially since he obviously has a leading role within the company (his name appears on so many new patent applications), but we can't call his blog an SEO blog. Personal diary - sure.

I think Matt made it clear that his blog is just a diary and nothing more, so why do people still treat it like an SEO resource? His content surely doesn't give him enough weight to be named an SEO Blog of 2005.

People should stop over-hyping the work he puts in maintaining his blog. Our confusion arises from simply expecting something that his blog is obviously not.

#28 egain

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 06:49 AM

Google could have chosen Matt as an indirect representative, especially since he obviously has a leading role within the company (his name appears on so many new patent applications), but we can't call his blog an SEO blog. Personal diary - sure.

I think Matt made it clear that his blog is just a diary and nothing more, so why do people still treat it like an SEO resource? His content surely doesn't give him enough weight to be named an SEO Blog of 2005.

People should stop over-hyping the work he puts in maintaining his blog. Our confusion arises from simply expecting something that his blog is obviously not.

View Post


Not sure I agree with the above comment, personally Matts blog has been a valuable resource for certain bits of information. Sure its never going to advise on how to get your site, to sweep the board on Google, however it does offer an interesting insite into some of the goings on at Google.

#29 AltherrWeb

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 11:52 AM

The best thing about the blog is we get proof that some things that "we already know" are accurate. Just because it works for you and others and it's in every forum doesn't mean it's always right. SEO is based on guess and check work, so to get confirmation that something is right from one of the top names at the top search engine is nice.

As far as "I'm not a spammer, so his blog isn't speaking to me", WE ARE ALL SPAMMERS. That's why you're in here. Maybe not in the way you think of spammers, but any time that you are trying to gain an advantage over your compeitor, whether it be in the SERPs or any other part of the business, (not including having a better product/information) then you're pretty much a spammer. And yes, SEO is gaining an advantage unfairly. You do little things that you wouldn't normally do to achieve better results. If not, you would just create a site, let it sit there and hope the content is good enough to gain links on it's own until it's relevant enough to rank. Instead we mess with the htaccess file, the robots file, title tags, heading tags, and more. And that's just talking about the on-page stuff.

I agree that Matt's blog is more about the negative and what doesn't work as opposed to the positive and what does, but that's how a lot of people see things. Have you watched the news lately? You hear more about the murders and rapes and not as much about the charity foundations and people that do things the right way.

#30 projectphp

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 09:44 AM

The best thing about the blog is we get proof...

Can you mention an example?

I wouldn't peronsally take anything said on the Blog as "proof", and especailly wouldn't over exagerate any of teh consequences ofa statement.

#31 IrishWonder

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 01:26 PM

Or is that a good example of how this sort of thing causes problems? [edit, unless google adsense uses nofollow, it may, Im just guessing, but Im sure not all paid for services like adwords use it, so the principle applies to many things]

View Post

Doh - Google AdSense is in JS plus those links are not permanent on any of the sites where they are displayed as the ads are generated dynamically hence they are not indexed like normal links. The whole talk about buying links is in the context of how those links pass PR/trustrank/importance/reputation or whatever you call it and whatever you think is most important nowadays and what helps a site rank in the SERPs.

To return to the main topic of this thread: I used to read Matt Cutts' blog and while it certainly is not meant to be a classroom for SEOs or anything of the sort some posts actually do inspire some ideas, whatever I might mean by this (I agree with Ruud on what he says about getting the bigger picture of MC's world). However, recently I have stopped reading it for lack of time and abundance of other interesting sources to read, be it SEOBook or SEOMoz or others. I feel this is not the best I could do as it is probably worth it to keep an eye on Matt but I just couldn't force myself to do it lately.



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