Google's Matt Cutts: Show Me The Spam Or...

Nov 8, 2013 • 8:38 am | comments (58) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google FingerprintA Hacker News thread cites a story I wrote at Search Engine Land named Long-Time SEO Jill Whalen Moves On, Praises Google For Rewarding Content More which I also wrote over here.

In short, the webmasters at Hacker News is mocking my summary of why Jill is retiring from SEO:

The tricks to beat and spam Google, Whalen said, no longer work as well.

Many of these webmasters find that comical, which may be true and I've seen plenty of spam examples this year. But I find it interesting that when webmasters are asked for examples, they go hush.

Matt Cutts responded in the thread saying, "if you'd be interested in sharing any specifics (companies, keywords, people, etc.) regarding people spamming by leaving millions of links gumming up the web, my team would be happy to investigate in more detail." But nothing timely and solid was given.

He said it again later on in the thread, "We're pretty good at dissecting various techniques, spam networks, etc. But I always like to hear feedback from different places to see how we're doing, uncover new pockets of spam, etc."

Heck, even Ryan Moulton chimed in asking "If you can remember some example queries I'd love to pass them on to the team."

But nothing.

Frustrating all around, don't you think?

Forum discussion at Hacker News.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for rainbow fingerprint

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A Guy That Actually Ranks

11/08/2013 02:18 pm

It is Matt's job to find the spam, and he knows full well where it is. Google's execs are absolute pros at delay tactics...never seen anyone better. They know how to sort desecending a list from (Volume of KW * CPC of KW). If a webmaster can't do that, they should quit. Wendy's is hiring.


11/08/2013 02:22 pm

Any evidence for that or are you just talking out your backside? Have you ever thought it might be more difficult and time-consuming than you realise, particularly if you are trying to not penalise innocent sites at the same time? PS. CPC is irrelevant since this is referring to organic search, adwords is also far more complex and operates off a Quality score as well, so its quite clear you don't really have much of a clue what you are talking about. Perhaps that job opening at Wendy's might be right for you instead?


11/08/2013 02:28 pm

"if you'd be interested in sharing any specifics (companies, keywords, people, etc.) regarding people spamming by leaving millions of links gumming up the web, my team would be happy to investigate in more detail." Here's the problem with Matt's comment... The overwhelming majority of the non-Google owned sites ranking on the first page for most keyword queries are big brand sites. These large corporations don't spam blog comments, they don't get links in directories and they don't spam forum signatures to artificially enhance their popularity. These large corporations build entire private networks, buy pristine links and use other techniques that are financially well beyond the capacity of most small businesses. JCPenney comes to mind, and when they got caught their "penalty" was reversed in no time. I could give Matt some serious examples of link spam that point to Blogspot and YouTube videos. But will Google penalize their own properties or continue giving them the free pass to spam away? So here we are with Matt Cutts apparently proud that there are no people stepping up to show examples of link spam. When the first page or two of the search results are loaded with big brands, YouTube videos and anointed websites such as Amazon, who will see sites benefiting from link spam? Google basically tossed 90%+ of the small business websites out of the search results and called it a success. I see this as an utter failure and an example of how Google's webspam team is going after the lowering hanging fruit instead of targeting the more sophisticated/organized methods used by large corporations. Also we now have the problem of negative SEO. Once used to improve search positions, now link spam is a weapon to take out the competition. The only way to survive this wave of spam is to somehow become one of Google's anointed sites. If you operate a small business website, you are vulnerable. I thought we would be safe, but got hit really hard and there is no defense we can employ to safeguard us against further attacks. I fear this new era of link spam will only grow worse and more people will find it acceptable to spam their competitors into oblivion.


11/08/2013 02:59 pm

The most successful sites on google use sophisticated techniques, paid links and networks they own or control outside of the site they are boosting. Of course they manipulate the hell out of everything that is free as well. None of these successful companies are going to tell you how they do it because they are ahead of google and google know it! So, google pretend to solve the problem by picking on the small guy who stole a loaf of bread vs the big guy who stole the chain of bakeries.

Bradley Lewis

11/08/2013 03:01 pm

CPC is not irrelevant whenever Google's PPC revenue increased this quarter but their search market share decreased...


11/08/2013 03:06 pm

It is when the article was about organic search. Unless you are stupid enough to pay per click in the organic search! :)

the irony...

11/08/2013 03:30 pm

If I buy links from an addwords advertiser on Google PPC and get hit by Penguin, should google shoulder any of the blame? How many sites hit by Penguin were sites that found the SEO who did the damage on PPC in the first place? the irony...


11/08/2013 03:33 pm

Seriously why would they share examples? Do they want to to help Google hurt more companies that did nothing wrong by confusing them with spam? That is all Google has done with Penguin and Panda to some extent. The real black hats guys are still ranking. They build sites for the short term and Google is not stopping them. The other guys still ranking are building quality private link networks. There is nothing Google can do about them. So the people that know what they are doing will continue to rank with grey/black techniques and everyone else will slowly drop as they listen to Google.

The Little Guy

11/08/2013 03:58 pm continues to outrank a large number of brands for any terms [brand + coupon]. Why I cannot be #1, when offering my own customers coupons for my goods, is philosophically troublesome. Those searches would not be happening (and coupon sites like would not be able to siphon off our branded traffic) if we did not build the brand and the branded business in the first place. It is painful to be used - no, abused - this way by Google. I notice that (or other coupon affils) don't outrank the brand owners for terms like [Adwords coupon] or [Amazon coupon]...


11/08/2013 04:03 pm

Yeah right. First the disavov tool, to get tons of free labour and now it is apparently not enough. Now we should manually inform Google of spam. What else Matt? Maybe clean your shoes? Get lost.

Mark Again

11/08/2013 04:26 pm

Why SEO's still listen to Matt & his Team has to say is making me dumbfounded. Guys, listen to me. Since the recession in 2009 Google's search engine revenue has peaked. The only way they can improve their revenue is by reducing the pie of SEO., Google is working day and night to destroy SEO and make it unreliable, so business owners will panic and prefer Adwords. Just as SEO's try to reverse engineer Google algorithm, Google is try to reverse engineer what SEO did and will do in future. Hence they follow the strategy "Keep the friends close, enemy's closer". Guys, SEO's & Google cannot be friends. Either we make money or they make money. "WHY NOBODY GETS THIS SIMPLE TRUTH'? IS IT SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND? I used to respect and trust what Matt has to say, but I learned the hard way that he is one of the top 10 lairs & PR expert in the world. Stay away from him. I am saving lot of hardship for you.


11/08/2013 04:38 pm

Google had a 5% ownership in Retail Me Not pre-IPO. I don't know what their financial relationship is like these days, but Google's venture arm does back a number of companies who appear to be immune from the carnage that small businesses are experiencing.


11/08/2013 04:54 pm

spammy white list of google


11/08/2013 04:55 pm

It's not frustrating. It just shows, that people don't consider Google as something, they would like to work on, as a team on a charity basis. There are certain rules on this market. The project must be open source, so people would like to work on it for free. The other way is to pay for the loopholes found. Pay 100k for the loophole and soon you'll know every spam trick on the planet in details. Do you want to forget about the spam at all? Buy spam tricks before they go viral. Make spammers work on you instead of themselves. (Correct me, if I'm wrong, but as far as I remember, only email spam is the crime. Search engines spam is not the crime in most of the countries.) It's very frustrating, that Matt Cutts, being the millionaire and working for one of the most successful project in the history, seeks for free help from the community regarding the pure commercial question. Community doesn't request neither Matt Cutts nor Google to share there money. Community just wants to work and get fair amount of money for their labor, experience and knowledge. Same as it was with Matt Cutts, when he came to the first interview with Google.


11/08/2013 05:32 pm

You seem to be a real tosser that loves Matt. Why not go back to your small biz killing at the plex and stop with the fan boy sycophancy.


11/08/2013 07:16 pm

I have a ton of respect for Jan, but being a part of a small business that's currently struggling with SEO, this comment really hit home with me: "I think half the reason she quit is that SEO is so damn unpredictable now. You can make a spammy site and might rank or might get de-indexed. But at the same time you can make a 100% whitehat site and it probably won't even rank and can get just as easily de-indexed"


11/08/2013 07:17 pm

sorry ton of respect for *Jill

Chase Anderson

11/08/2013 09:13 pm

The glass is awfully half full isn't it?

Chase Anderson

11/08/2013 09:15 pm

Build an actual branded page for your brand name + coupon. If you did so right you'd be fine. See Target.


11/08/2013 09:55 pm

This is why Google (and team) will never get it. It is not about all the big bad guys, finding them and punishing them. It is about the small guys (mom and pops) that get ass F'ed during algo updates for NO GOOD REASON at all.

Mukesh kumar

11/09/2013 04:41 am

I think now i am not alone, earlier no body was with me to say negative abt google, but slowly people start understanding the main motive behind link building.. Organic seo is dead, link builders are unemployed, most of the seo's are strugling for their breads and butter, economy is going down, why everything is for small scale business matt ? This is not good yesterday i was on the top , i worked for five years and suddenly i lost all my rankings. Everything is gone . These changes are not acceptable to me and to all the small scale industry , As bing results are much better so we should start doing things on bing. I also need better suggestions from you peoples.

ho ho ho

11/09/2013 05:03 am

Whalen was always a Google PR hack wh*re, saying what Google and Mutt Cutts wanted to hear. Now she left with the same spirit. Google didn't beat spam, they beat organic search which is why Whalen she is retiring. No one wants to hire her since she cannot deliver clicks, unless Google is paid. Organic search is as good as dead. End of the story.

ho ho ho

11/09/2013 05:04 am

"It is about the small guys (mom and pops) that get ass F'ed during algo updates for NO GOOD REASON at all" There is a very good reason: to force them to advertise.

ho ho ho

11/09/2013 05:09 am

That site is white-listed by Google because Google owns them. They are a pump and dump scam, if Google ranks them fairly, their stock would go to close to zero

Steven 'The Tosser' Lockey

11/09/2013 05:16 am

Steven Lockey is a salad tosser that loves Googlers. This POS hangs out in Google Search Forums and spews his crap to desperate sit owners.


11/09/2013 05:46 am

i don't know why my earlier comment was removed! but i was just showing example of spam (on-page)!! I had discussion earlier with Matt dimock on the same site and he did try to get answer for the spam site here: Matt cutts asked for site which are spamming and here it is!


11/09/2013 05:56 am

The problem for most webmasters with exposing spam beating Google, is that they end up exposing their niche. We all know that no webmaster wants 100's maybe even 1000's of very savy marketers/programmers/webmasters who hang out on hacker news finding his or her niche. This has always been the case.


11/09/2013 05:58 am

Retailmenot is a Google product of course they preference their own product, even though they say they don't!

Yogendra Chavda

11/09/2013 06:08 am

i don't know why my earlier comment was removed! but i was just showing example of spam (on-page)!! I had discussion earlier with Matt dimock for the same site and he did try to get answer for the spam site here: Matt cutts asked for site which are spamming and here it is!


11/09/2013 08:01 am

Will you please share your earlier comment again which was removed.!!


11/09/2013 12:21 pm

new way of negative seo?


11/09/2013 04:48 pm



11/10/2013 03:42 am

I am for good SEO, I am in favor of dealing away with adwords and replacing it with organic results that is the fruit of good SEO. Now in what way is Cutts opposed to SEO? Cutts claims that he and his team is out to undo the work or spammers. Is good SEO synonymous with spamming?

Hicker Dickery Dock

11/10/2013 07:03 am

I think a great example of a large company who gets away with a lot of spam link juice is Geico. Take a good look at their back link profile. You will see so many of their most powerful links come from donation/sponsored pages. These are all paid links that are being followed. Why is it okay from them to be buying these kinds of links? Oh wait... I remember, because Matt said users expect to see them in SERP about five years back.

Mark Again

11/10/2013 02:50 pm

The fact you are using the words good SEO and bad SEO shows you are a newbie. You have a long way to go and grow.


11/10/2013 11:46 pm

Where do we send the list? I can give detailed info on several who continue to do mass spam linking.

Gracious Store

11/11/2013 03:47 am

You are absolutely correct! I am a newbie, it is not a crime to be a newbie. As a newbie I have to grow and that is why I am in this forum to learn from the gurus. But unfortunately you don't seem to be one of the gurus I am looking up to.

Gregory Smith

11/11/2013 05:42 am

Howdy Search Fans, Is this the official snitch section/blog? It's absolutely amazing what some peeps would do for ($1) @MattCutts LMAO Anyhows, let meeh leap directly to the point here. I'm curious, but can't help myself: What could I get for $10?

Vladimir Mosoglu

11/11/2013 07:36 am

I read today, about example of hacked site positioned with keyword "buy viagra" in SERP


11/11/2013 09:30 am

Very mature...... both of you. You might want to actually try making a point instead of throwing out insults, people might take you seriously that way.

The Anti Cutts

11/11/2013 12:48 pm

Sorry i'm to busy making youTube videos about bold tags to care this week...


11/11/2013 12:59 pm

i think matt cutts hacked google, it why it now so useless.


11/11/2013 01:00 pm



11/11/2013 01:01 pm

only websites from google blackhat whitelist (webmd, amazon, wikipedia, mayo, youtube, etc) are allowed now in top10.


11/11/2013 02:59 pm

So telling someone they are talking out of their backside is not insulting but mature. I get ya. Double talk googler. So when you say immature you actually mean mature. Right on google fan boy! By your own standards then I think you are a "really great guy"! For the slow ones out there, in google speak that is TOSSER!

Stephane Brault

11/11/2013 03:10 pm


11/11/2013 03:12 pm

Perhaps you should learn to read, I asked him if he had evidence or if he was, I never said that he was AND I was making a valid point doing it since he was talking about PPC in an article about organic search. Thats a huge difference from directly insulting someone, particularly as he was accusing someone else of lying in that post. I guess I shouldn't expect people who clearly show themselves to be a lower form of life to be able to actually make a coherent argument. It would probably help if you IQ actually reached double figures at some point. (That was an insult btw, in case your feeble brain has trouble comprehending.)


11/11/2013 03:16 pm

I have seen RetailMeNot beat brand coupon pages many times. Also who is the coupon searcher going to trust? The brand or the site created to give out coupons? Also why would a person go to the brand page when the other sites normally have better deals?


11/11/2013 03:43 pm

You make a great point about Google not punishing their own products. YouTube videos are so easy to rank with spam links. I can tell you this because I have done it before with testing. At one point (within the last 6 months), I was able to rank on the first page for the keyword iphone 5 with a YouTube video! It lasted about 2 months and I didn't do anything to maintain the ranking. But this was all for testing purposes. I was able to do it with many other competitive keywords as well that included local services. And the local service videos actually ranked above the Google business listings. I am even showing you that exact example from one of my accounts.


11/11/2013 04:56 pm

There you go again fan boy with the insults. You just keep on giving when it comes to tosser of the year award. You are going to have some trouble shifting the tosser nickname. It seems to of left a bit of a stain. If you had just one more brain cell you would be a Yogurt. And by the way, a sharp tongue is no indication of a sharp mind. It just makes you look an even bigger tosser than you are and that is really pushing the boundary of tosser!


11/11/2013 05:07 pm

*yawn* if you think I care what idiots think of me, you are sadly mistaken.


11/11/2013 05:40 pm

I find tossers like you are so easy to catch. I go with a 2Ib breaking strain line and a bit of bread and dripping and tossers just jump on the hook. They can´t help themselves. I don´t think anything of you because I don´t know you, apart from the fact you come over when representing yourself online as a complete tosser.


11/11/2013 10:53 pm

Thanks, but I was hoping for one that they actually pay attention to.

Yogendra Chavda

11/12/2013 06:29 am

it's ranking from almost 4-5 months! Looks like they survived all the HUGE updates of Google!


11/12/2013 09:23 am

LOL, people in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks. You feel the need to resort to insults when someone asks them for proof they can't provide for their BS, so you resort to insults and have to hide behind their anonymity. Really really sad.


11/12/2013 09:25 am

Really... I must tell all my clients that their rankings aren't really there and are clearly an illusion! ;)

Ashish Ahuja

11/12/2013 10:35 am

If Mr Cutts wants an example of huge spam ranking in google here it is "YOUTUBE.COM"


11/13/2013 05:38 pm

may be. or may be you still sleeping :) and no negative seo in your sleep...

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