Google Certified SEOs = Top Contributors / Bionic Posters?

Jul 24, 2009 • 8:30 am | comments (26) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Certified SEOs?One person posted a rant in the Google Webmaster Help forums about the "Top Contributors / Bionic Posters" in that forum. In short, Top Contributors / Bionic Posters are given the title by Googlers, who believe that these people are smart enough, experienced enough, skilled enough and helpful enough to be giving answered at Googler levels. But this person felt the Top Contributors / Bionic Posters were not helpful.

The interesting part of this thread is that Googler, JohnMu, does the right thing and backs up the Top Contributors / Bionic Posters with a really nice post. The post, kind of leads me to see that Google may (maybe stretching it here) consider the Top Contributors / Bionic Posters as "certified Google SEOs," if there is such a thing. Google does have certified AdWords professionals, Ad Manager pros, Google Apps, etc, but not Google SEOs, simply because it is something that would be considered very controversial on many levels. But in a sense, these Top Contributors / Bionic Posters are Google Certified SEOs.

Read John's post:

This is one of the reasons we mark a few people as Top Contributor / Bionic Poster. It's not because of their own website(s). Some websites rank high for no particular reasons and some websites are filled with information that is made up -- I wouldn't trust people online just because of a website that they give you :).

Top Contributors / Bionic Posters are people who do more than just work on a single website. They help thousands of users here with their problems. They see issues here weekly which the average webmaster does not ever see. Because of that, they're frequently very quick in finding a diagnosis and frequently the diagnosis is spookily correct (not always, I don't think that's really possible). They might be a little too direct at times, but when you have so many people lined up asking for help I don't think it makes sense to be anything else than direct. Sometimes things can get heated, they're only people after all :), but overall they help an awesome amount of users.

Keep in mind that you can't become a Top Contributor / Bionic Poster by just posting a lot of stuff here. It's not based only on the quantity but to a large part on the quality of the feedback given. When we find that someone is doing an exceptional job here, we may decide to reach out to them and ask them to become a Top Contributor / Bionic Poster. We don't do that based on a single reply, we do that by looking at 100s and often 1000s of replies to webmasters with all kinds of problems.

If this message is not a clear indication that Google vouches for the Top Contributors / Bionic Posters, then I don't know what is. I don't blame JohnMu for backing up the Top Contributor / Bionic Posters, but it also leads John and Google to basically certifying them as certified SEOs, which can get hairy.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Previous story: Your Google Web History Not Yours? Maybe Someone Is Watching You.


SEO Phill

07/24/2009 03:37 pm

And Phil Payne - threatening to undo his business - even when he's obviously not terribly good at reading is a bit of a low blow. Google's already dealt with him - he's not going to get his client indexed and he's going to get flak for it.

Barry Schwartz

07/24/2009 03:39 pm

Guys, the point of this post is not about threats, it is about how Google's JohnMu thinks of the Top Contributors. :)

Phil Payne

07/24/2009 03:49 pm

I have to apologise for my previous post - a case of mistaken identity. I've just reread David's thread and not only was it not he but I think he was remarkable patient considering what was said. Two options - let both of my posts stand (with my apoloy to David in this one) or the moderators may delete both at their discretion. Once again my apology.

David Eaves

07/24/2009 04:07 pm

Hi Phil, apology accepted, hidden links aren't my think, I'm more of a cloaking kind of guy!


07/24/2009 06:14 pm

As far as I know - not a single one of us view it as an "endorsement" of any sort regarding our services. To the point - I don't believe many of us even do SEO as a service/living. Most of those in the related Group (pointing out there are many other Groups/Languages), are simply website owners like most others in the group - or web-designers, programmers or, in some cases, people that sit, watch and chip in every so often ;). - - - All the label of "Bionic", or the status of "Top Contributor" means is that Google has found us to be helpful, informative and dedicated. Would you prefer it if anyone could become a TC? (Before answering that question - please go and see some of the SEO companies/persons that post/ask questions - then answer ;)). - - - Part of the problem we have is that we cannot win. If we provide links to our sites and our email details - we are accused of "fishing for work". If we don't do these things - we are accused of "hiding our ineptitude". - - - I'd also like to point out that none of us get any "benefit" from what we do - apart from personal pleasure and social interaction. If anything - it can be a burden. I know I feel obliged to look in and post every day… just to help out a little and give back to a community that answered my questions. Else I feel bad. And - if I'm 'naughty' ... Susan tells me off! (Scary ... ;)). - - - So - sincerely - before making comments on this subject, do come to the group and have a look around. See who we are, what we do, how we do it etc. We would love to have some of the bigger SEO's come in ... but I don't see any offer their help/services for free in the group... (subtle aren’t I ;)). So, there's your invitation folks - come have a look & play ... and if we are lucky, you'll join in and help out too. Kindest, Autocrat.


07/24/2009 06:53 pm

>>> The real Googlers like John and Matt >>> are cool because they never lie and >>> they never make assumptions. Well, I hope this doesn't imply you think anybody blatantly lies over there? And of course it's the private posters' privilege including the one of TCs to make assumptions ;-) Matt Cutts or JohnMu couldn't possibly indulge in publishing "assumptions" about their own machine? Many of an assumption made in the forum has suddenly worked out in helping others.


07/24/2009 07:38 pm

There are other negative threads in the forum and there will be more. You just need to ask yourself whether they would exist if those opening them weren't frustrated with their own website. Perceived by some as representatives of Google, Top Contributors are a natural target for that frustration. Useful to remember that top Contributors are not Google representatives, may not wish to be, they're just people posting on a forum. A couple are professional SEOs, some run successful websites of their own, a fair number build or manage sites for others. Simply a representative and reasonably experienced peer group who offer their time. You might also note there are many posts in the forum pointing out very specifically the place is not an SEO forum and should not be labelled as such. A more common SEO connection is via those posting for help, who offer SEO services but seem to have little knowledge of websites or Google. That isn't meant to be defamatory to the whole sector, people like Richard who was mentioned earlier, or Phill Midwinter who commented may bring true value to their clients but they are obliged to work under a much misused term. So not all members of the community would see themselves as SEOs, or choose to be. Good luck to the OP here for a pleasant, neutral post, that might attract a little attention, yet the statement: " also leads John and Google to basically certifying them as certified SEOs..." is more than stretching a point, simply innacurate. There is no pretence of that being an appropriate label, nor a wish for there to be from everyone involved.

Aaron Pratt

07/24/2009 07:52 pm

If you spend all day helping people fix broken sites you learn what glitches are preventing them to rank in Google. It is natural and a fair reward for helping other webmasters out! There also is a private forum for "bionics" where all the good stuff/info. is distributed...I found this post in there, we are also watching you. ;)

Brian Ussery

07/24/2009 08:45 pm

Happy Friday! Just wanted to say, being able to resolve technical site issues is one critical element in SEO and peanut butter is one critical element in PB&J. Just as peanut butter isn't a sandwich, technical savvy doesn't seem like SEO me. I don't see recognition for technical expertise as implying anything about SEO or being slippery ground for Google in the least. Just my two cents :)

Louis Lyons

07/24/2009 09:36 pm

Hi Phil, I am sorry that I implied that SEO is dodgy in anyway. I was trying to say (poorly I suppose) that we aren't being told by Google any techniques of SEO besides what are stated by them publicly. Sorry for the confusion.

Michael Martinez

07/25/2009 07:55 am

I cannot imagine a more incompetent group of "experts" than the people slinging nonsense at the Google Webmaster Help forums. I don't care what Google thinks of them -- they regularly miss very basic issues when "advising" people on how to improve their sites and their analyses are among the worst on the Web. Let them have a field day with that criticism. I wouldn't ask them for advice if they were the last helpful people on Earth.

Richard Hearne

07/25/2009 08:28 am

And now we have one of SEO's biggest whingers chiming in. Curious Michael - I haven't seen you helping out too many webmasters, EVER. If we are all incompetent why don't you do something about it and help out a little. You obviously seem to believe that when we offer FREE advice we should go and perform some high level of due-diligence, blissfully ignoring that as volunteers we likely have very limited bandwidth to do so. And as regards incompetence - in my honest opinion there's more SEO knowledge in that small group of volunteers than there is in many of the largest agencies around the globe. And yes I have had lots of experience upon which to base that opinion. Don't even know why I'm responding to you TBH. It's a true, true shame that someone with so much inherent knowledge and expertise in the industry has to be such a negative troll...


07/25/2009 04:41 pm

Ah ... new I'd see nthat name before ... isn't that the guy that says looking up link info in Yahoo is pointless and you are better off using the (limited) info in Google? Whats that you say? No - I'm serious ... thats what he says! Apparently all those helpful SEO people like Rand and Aaron Wall etc. haven't got a clue! Only that guy knows what he is on about. (double entendre ;))

Anil Kumar Singh

07/25/2009 04:46 pm

SEO guys don't need any Certification from Google.

Aaron Pratt

07/25/2009 05:15 pm

Michael Martinez tends to get his panties in a bind often, he stirs the pot to seek out new business in an attempt to only go where no SEO has gone before! :)


07/25/2009 06:41 pm

>>> technical site issues >>> is one critical element in SEO and peanut >>> butter is one critical element in PB&J Brian, :D Google Webmaster Help treats technicals as pre-requisites for SEO, like: Does a site work with search engines? What is the correct setup for a site to get visible in results? Where are flaws on-site or between site and search engines that hamper proper ranking (indexing, crawling, whatever)? Even things like: How do I organize my site to prevent any surprise in regards to search engines in the future? If you want to call that SEO - you can. Nothing unpublished, no secrets. Many people do that there, it's not restricted to TCs and Googlers or something at all. Many answers get a kind of Google approval being flagged "Best" for people of all "levels" TC or "Highest Level Four"(!) <<< ( listen to these if you don't like TCs! :D ).


07/25/2009 10:34 pm

JohnMu does post that kind of comment on a semi-regular basis just to take the heat out of a situation. People arrive with a website in trouble, are understandably angry, frustrated and want immediate answers and if they aren't forthcoming - and what the poster wants to hear - tend to shoot the messengers. This can head into a pointless downward spiral if a line isn't drawn under it. Hence the postings by John when the aggression is pointed at the Bionics. We none of us claim to be SEO's, neither do any of us promote our services. We just try and help where we can and know that many times we can't give the poster what they are looking for. Becky

SEO Phill

07/27/2009 07:58 am

[SEOs] are obliged to work under a much misused term I very much like the way you put that! It reflects how I feel about the term quite accurately. If you read my blog in fact it says as much! People are pointing out the line between what the guys in the webmaster help forum do and what SEO is. Entirely accurate - I have in fact posted a fair number of responses to questions in there but ultimately I packed it in. The responses I gave - whilst ok - just don't reflect what the users are looking for. People like Autocrat have a huge amount of experience dealing with those queries day in and day out. Nobody gives them any reward for it and they deserve a lot of praise for that.

cvos man

07/27/2009 08:56 am

<i>Some websites rank high for no particular reasons</i> Huh? Seriously? this comes from a top SEO? sites rank for no reason? So you recommend putting no effort into a website because success is all just chance? Tell this to the google engineers. <i>Not a threat, old son, a promise. It's in the snailmail.... Maybe I should post that page on my site for others to judge you by - I still have it.<i> This could be potentially libelous activity and could expose the user and google to a lot of liability. If Google is specifically endorsing individuals with no formal training and no legal constraints there could be problems down the road. I commend users working for free in google's forums to try to help other webmasters, but if individual vendettas and personal attacks prevail this is a negative for everyone involved.

Michael Martinez

07/27/2009 03:13 pm

Richard Hearne: "... Curious Michael - I haven't seen you helping out too many webmasters, EVER...." Hah! That's only because you don't get out enough to look around. Proving your incompetence and ignorance by challenging me on the help I've given to thousands of webmasters through the years on blogs and forums is not making your case. Aaron Pratt: "...he stirs the pot to seek out new business in an attempt to only go where no SEO has gone before! :)" Not hardly. The top posters in the Google Webmaster Help Forums -- including those who are posting here -- are essentially incompetent and useless SEO advisors.


07/29/2009 05:00 am

So promoting one site is better than more....right

Richard Hearne

07/30/2009 10:19 am

@Michael - I've seen you pissing in the wind for quite a few years now, and your negativity here only further cements your place in SEO history as someone with immense talent, wasted through bitterness and resentment, and with a massive desire to prove to the world how great you are at other people's expense. Keep pissing Michael - the only one getting wet is you.

Phil Payne

04/28/2010 01:42 pm

We're NOT "Google certified SEOs" and neither would - I believe - any of us claim to be. One important datum is missing (inevitably) from this discussion, and that's the comment that JohnMu makes privately to each of us on such an occasion as this.

No Name

08/18/2010 11:23 pm

Google certifies people to game their system? Doesn't sound like a smart business move if you going for reliable SERPs


09/13/2010 02:30 am

I agree. Even this problem is happening at the You Tube Community Help Forums! Look at our TCs! They are having a crack at some user treating him like an idiot for not knowing much about his problem! Believe me there are more users who are worthy of the title of 'Top Contributor' who do more justice, humility, and modesty with their posts yet they don't get promoted a TC. Look at our newest Top Contributor this year. He is already abusing his privilenges and newly found powers at the forums. Bleh! I might leave these forums for good. How disgusting.


02/08/2012 10:52 pm

Quite honestly, I find many of the "bionic posters" such as Lysis to be downright rude and incompetent.  They don't elevate the level of discussion and much of their suggestions is pure rubbish.  The whole Google Webmaster Forum is a joke

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