Google's Matt Cutts: Our Algorithms Try To Break Black Hat SEOs Spirits

Dec 18, 2013 • 9:26 am | comments (68) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Matt Cutts TwigA couple weeks ago, Google's Matt Cutts was on This Week in Google (TWiG) and on episode 227 Matt had some interesting things to say. He said that Google specifically tries to break the spirits of black hat SEOs.

At about an hour and 25 minutes into the video, Matt said:

If you want to stop spam, the most straight forward way to do it is to deny people money because they care about the money and that should be their end goal. But if you really want to stop spam, it is a little bit mean, but what you want to do, is sort of break their spirits. There are lots of Google algorithms specifically designed to frustrate spammers. Some of the things we do is give people a hint their site will drop and then a week or two later, their site actually does drop. So they get a little bit more frustrated. So hopefully, and we’ve seen this happen, people step away from the dark side and say, you know what, that was so much pain and anguish and frustration, let’s just stay on the high road from now on.

Here is the video, scroll to just before 1:25 on this video:

So in short, Google actually doesn't just look to prevent money to go to spammers, they look to break their spirits.

Forum discussion at Google+.

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Karol Wilczek

12/18/2013 02:52 pm

If only Google algorithms frustrated spammers ... ;)

Aunty SEO

12/18/2013 03:19 pm

Those little algos only break down the spirits of Whitehat. Blackhats always find a way to thrive today or tomorrow. Keep going Google. To be fair I now know the meaning of "unintended consequences"

White 2 Black

12/18/2013 03:23 pm

But the core problem is, 95% SEO's fall under Matt's definition of black hat. You might find it hard to believe, but the funny thing is, I used to do white hat SEO. It was Panda and Penguin, that made me jump to the black hat world. And my experience is that Google is still scratching the surface.


12/18/2013 03:31 pm

Frustrating spammers is one thing, but throwing out the baby with the bath water is another. I do not see any of Google's policies as friendly to small businesses. And on that note, Barry why did you not post about Canada's Competition Bureau filing a complaint against Google as is noted in a Reuters story at This appears to be big news about Google, from the Canadian perspective at least.

Aunty Seo

12/18/2013 03:32 pm

Ha.. Please teach us buddy. Let us scratch what lies beneath.

Frederick Begbeder

12/18/2013 03:43 pm

Ok, next step will be spam under competitors names to get them sites down


12/18/2013 03:46 pm

We don't care, the Cad gov is doing this on their own. As a Canadian i find this stupid


12/18/2013 04:02 pm

Break the spirit of spammers and drive innocent small business owners caught in the cross-fire to financial ruin and/or suicide.

Aunty SEO

12/18/2013 04:07 pm

Must be very cold out there... The govs always find a way to warm up from slumber. Please go fellas. Warmup our lives too.


12/18/2013 04:26 pm

it easy to understand what their algorithms unable to separate normal webmasters from blackhat webmasters, so they are actually killing all websites. Also (i hope?) they not do same things with adwords advertisers.


12/18/2013 04:48 pm

Matt looks like he has been on an intense pie diet. Is that google fattening up the turkey for Christmas :)


12/18/2013 04:55 pm

more tanked white hat sites = more fatty turkeys and more bottles of oldest whisky for mc Christmas party.


12/18/2013 05:01 pm

yes, it logical. google need to patent this idea.


12/18/2013 05:28 pm

Matt Cutts is smart.

spam alert!

12/18/2013 05:29 pm

Barry...who is your new little spammer friend?

Barry Schwartz

12/18/2013 05:31 pm

Yea, dealing with it now.


12/18/2013 06:03 pm

The more Matt talks the more I feel this is a personal vendetta for him rather than his job and he's in danger of becoming a caricature of himself. Right now I feel bad for him as this is really becoming unhealthy... Did someone from BHW steal his wife?


12/18/2013 06:03 pm

I still believe, that Matt Cutts is smart, even you don't like him.


12/18/2013 06:11 pm

Why am I picturing Dr Evil with a pinkie to his lips when he says this?


12/18/2013 06:16 pm

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” ― Albert Einstein


12/18/2013 06:33 pm

Matt Cutts must have some huge ass balls! I personally couldn’t take the stress from his job, what if he destroys the income of some organised crime gang, or some guy loses everything and really has nothing at all to lose and goes after matt? If I were matt id just silently work at google, do what I do and not broadcast who just f&&ed someone else’s livelihood. Just saying the man must have balls or some serious personal security as he paints himself as a target almost daily...


12/18/2013 07:43 pm

PPC is the only whitehat SEO method left.

Yo Mamma

12/18/2013 07:53 pm

I think Mutt Cutts messed up on his latest video. He neglected to say that he prefers that a single company have a single domain, regardless of country or language. He has said this time and again. Maybe the Mutt is senile

Yo Mamma

12/18/2013 07:54 pm

I am sure he has a body guard and packs some heat. Would be crazy and stupid if he didn't


12/18/2013 08:02 pm

"... so much pain and anguish and frustration..." Looks like he really enjoys punishing nasty webmasters. Was poor guy Matt mistreated in his childhood or what?

Yo Mamma

12/18/2013 08:13 pm

Karma is a beach

Nick Ker

12/18/2013 08:49 pm

Bill Slawski wrote about the "Rank Modifying Spammers" patent by Google last year: This is the first I've heard of anybody at Google acknowledging that they toy with spammers/black hatters. It seems to be working, if all the "Google wants to destroy small businesses" comments here and elsewhere are any indication. Kind of funny how nearly everyone who claims to be "100% white hat" is really nothing of the sort, while most of the SEOs who could be called white hat don't really mention hats very often. It is as if spammers and black hatters believe that it is only "wrong" when someone else is doing it or if they break a law.

Alexander Hemedinger

12/18/2013 10:00 pm

Ain't that the truth....


12/18/2013 10:49 pm

surely, it working not same way as google planned, unless their main idea to destroy also all small whitehat websites.


12/18/2013 10:50 pm

him don't know what him want. $$$ is only one thing him sure.

David Black

12/18/2013 11:09 pm

It's all just tit-for-tat, the black hats consistently find their way to beat Google, Matt just wants to 'break their spirits' and win. Just like hackers or credit card thieves, whatever algorithm Google comes out with, its just a matter of time before one on the dark side finds a way round or through it..


12/18/2013 11:42 pm

By defining many links as "blackhat," Google is utilizing its marketshare to restrict the benefits of a non-search engine product. Most webmasters want people linking to them because it brings them more traffic. But Google loses this potential revenue when these same people do not first go to their search engine. Basically Google is using its market power to snuff out the traffic we receive from links by penalizing websites that have them. I would argue that these policies are anti-competitve and reduce the ability of webmasters to receive traffic by a means outside of Google. Google may be breaking the spirits of some blackhaters, but their actions have also created a greater awareness of Google's broad reach and the need to reign them in to protect competition and give consumers more choices.


12/19/2013 02:39 am

they will continue cheating webmasters. I think MC will destroy google very soon, looks like others not care and give him "kill search engine & destroy reputation" carte-blance.


12/19/2013 02:42 am

in reality they breaking (ed) own spirit and reputation. also any webmasters confused now and know what something very wrong goes on with google. It not business, matt cutts playing poker game now (who will destroyed or loser).


12/19/2013 03:59 am

What is the hint they give webmasters that their site are going to drop?

Sean Murray

12/19/2013 05:06 am

This is kind of hilarious

Soni Sharma

12/19/2013 05:52 am

Good Going....

PM Fiorini

12/19/2013 06:15 am

This is a bit over-the-top...if you think about it, it's a bit strange. it tells you a lot about the designers of the algorithms. So, they would put all this effort into "breaking the spirits" of spammers? Trying to mess with their "heads"...if what Cutt's says is even true.


12/19/2013 06:57 am

Google is playing with sites. They bring new sites in top 10 ranking and then tank them, and replace them with another bunch of new sites. Their algorithm is not able to judge best sites to be displayed in top ranking and they shuffle them now and then. If their algorithm is focused on getting good sites in top, then there would have been no case of sites being tanked in ranking. If their algorithm is so smart, then spammers should never get a chance to get ranked. Why in first place Google give value to those links that are counted as spam after few months? Their algorithm must be design not to bring spamming links based sites in top ranking. If they are able to do so there will be no case of getting hit by any update. Google is turning from a teacher who guide their students to choose a right path to a teacher who think his/her ethics are better than others; forced them on students and tell them to move in a single path that they think is best.


12/19/2013 08:26 am

It's so true. We have exceptional sites and get dropped to page 2 as Google know we'll PPC to stay alive as a business. Well that's at least what they hope, we abandoned all PPC and went other routes.


12/19/2013 09:09 am

I can see Matt Cutts bringing down Google with this personal mission as there is too much collateral damage going on and the users experience is terrible right now. I think the spam team (and algo) needs to look at sites a little more objectively and if the site is a GOOD site and highly relevant to a user let a couple of links slide because the site isn’t spam and is still helpful to the end user. Garbage sites set up just for addsense should obviously be tanked… I predict this will all end very badly for Matt for one reason or another and there will be a film about the demise of Google at his hands, I can’t tell you how many people I know are sick of google and have switched to BING since Matts mission with penguin started... P.S does anyone else click on competitors PPC adds a lot and get their friends and relatives to? I do, everyone I know who runs a business does this to competitors, obviously Google wins either way but this is a major problem with PPC and why I wouldn’t use it. If you have 20 competitors doing this once a day or a week it kills your profits.

Adsense is King

12/19/2013 09:19 am

There are lots of Google algorithms specifically designed to improve adsense revenues by downgrading the best sites. Some of the things they do is screw with people's heads. This means they love to see it when great sites actually drop because more Adwords revenue is the result as well as better stock market value "Muhahaha .


12/19/2013 09:24 am

"P.S does anyone else click on competitors PPC adds a lot and get their friends and relatives to?" No. That is pathetic.

Jitendra Vaswani

12/19/2013 09:55 am

Google is killing black hat networks. That is good thing


12/19/2013 10:02 am

yes, and "google search quality" is obsolete thing now. Because of quality of "google organic serp quality" now and looks like antispam team just unable to stop playing and cheating peoples around. It funny, why google think what they can lie and cheat webmasters? It huge corporation, which must have some code of ethics. Imagine what can happen if gov police will do such things. In my opinion if google go down to such cheating things as spammers do (but they do it not for humans - like google doing it now), google is not better and in same level as spammers & cheaters.


12/19/2013 10:37 am

google killing all small websites, this is bad thing. Their algorithms unable to recognize where is blackhat or white hat. Also negative seo is so common now.


12/19/2013 10:53 am

fun though, makes a man feel big! :)


12/19/2013 11:16 am

Black Hat SEO spirit will live forever.

Suraj Gurung

12/19/2013 11:28 am

Yes Dave. I totally agree with your statement. I don't think they work to make web a better place. I have seen some sites which are ranking well today and when checked it's BL....not upto the today's Google Backlink standards. I don't know how could these websites get placement there !!! It hurts :(


12/19/2013 11:43 am

But you are not sucess i have seen many poor content and poor site rank very well and still good site penalize by you.


12/19/2013 01:32 pm

Those who would sabotage a competitors business are the same who would use BH techniques to improve their rankings. I've had click fraud investigated and had the funds returned, nothing but more work for Google. Hopefully their investigations of these fraudulent clicks would lead them to the clickers website so they can further investigate. If more time was focused on running an ethical operation there may not be a need to resort to BH techniques. That's been my experience at least.


12/19/2013 02:48 pm

So he says ... deny people money who is spamming google and they too have algorithm in place..... why the heck should we bothered about who is spamming google ? Every business/individual has a motive that is "profit" which is end goal at end of day.. you google are running a non-profit entity ? once again you say indirectly your algorithm is impotent.


12/19/2013 02:52 pm

Why do you think Matt Cutt's "personal mission" is different from what the rest of the powers at Google want? He has bosses. If they wanted or needed to reign him in they would. Clearly he's carrying out the will of the company, you're kind of an idiot if you think otherwise. Regarding your PS, it's not much of a problem at all. If my friend or family member asked me to do that I would probably just tell them to grow up. On a large scale, there are systems in place to combat click fraud. "I wouldn't use it" - good for you, but millions of companies would and do because it makes them money. Do you even know what ROI is? I'll give you a hint...losers like you clicking ads for no reason ultimately don't matter.


12/19/2013 03:10 pm

These comments are awful. Am I the only one who's happy with the way Google handles my website? Maybe you're all just bad at marketing. I have a site that's about 14 months old and we dominate the SERPs for our industry because we know what we're doing. Get a real CMS, pay someone to build and optimize your site properly, and half the work is done for you. Secondly, Google doesn't owe you anything. Some of you act like ranking high on Google is a birthright and if Google doesn't rank your site well then it's some sort of personal sabotage to get you to spend more on PPC - no, you just suck at marketing your website. Or maybe your website just isn't as good as you think it is.

Nick Ker

12/19/2013 03:18 pm

Google's defining certain artificial manipulative links is not new at all. G has gotten better at enforcing the rules of THEIR WEBSITE (search engine) that have been in place for years. If you choose to not follow the rules and risk not appearing in Google's search results, that isn't Google's fault. The links they flag as unnatural, or get filtered by parts of the algorithm like Penguin are usually not the type of links that anyone is going to follow, nor are they usually from sites that anyone actually uses for anything more than link spamming. It seems like you believe that Google is penalizing all sites that link to other sites. That just isn't how it is. If that was the case, the search results would be nearly empty because most sites link to some other site somewhere. If that is what you really believe, you should probably do a little more reading on what Google's policies are regarding links: Consumers do have choices: Bing, Blekko, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo and others exist, but people choose Google more than those. Nobody is forced to use Google. And you can also choose to keep your sites out of Google's index completely if you feel that strongly about it. Tad Chef has done exactly that and is doing just fine with all sorts of other sources of traffic: I really hope you don't believe that some type of government control over what a company, even one as big as Google, can do with its websites would be a good thing.

Nick Ker

12/19/2013 03:25 pm

I think many here are actually "sock puppets" of one or two disgruntled webmasters who broke some rules, never knew there were rules, or just don't get it at all. And then there are those who just can't accept that their website is not at all unique, interesting, useful or in some way better than others who offer the same things. Many times people have posted "Panda/penguin hit my site" and when they finally share the URL, there are so many things wrong with the site or its links that it takes about 2 minutes for a competent SEO to find major problems.

Matt Morgan

12/19/2013 03:35 pm


Matthew Newton

12/20/2013 12:37 am

JB you're right in most ways. However, there's many people just like you who got caught up in one of Google's updates as a false positive .. or they were attacked by a competitor and knocked out of the SERPs. As someone who has knocked many people out of Google's top 10 results I can tell you that it's not very hard. And you can imagine that this would annoy some people especially if they have worked hard, just like it sounds like you have. PS. I only work on knocking dodgy websites out of the SERPs. I'll never, ever, attack a legitimate website which is offering value.

Matthew Newton

12/20/2013 12:38 am

this is BS. Google has been crushing so many Adsense websites in the last 18 months that they've driven most publishers of the shitty websites out of the game.

Matthew Newton

12/20/2013 12:40 am

yes they would. And they have patented at least one method specifically designed to crush black hatters spirits


12/20/2013 01:30 am

Your emphasis on "THEIR WEBSITE" in your comment over simplifies things just a little bit there Nick. Google operates more than a site. Google is running lines to supply broadband, has a very popular operating system for mobile devices (Android), owns the most popular video site, financially backs 225 companies and is in a lobbying group with many other online heavyweights to supposedly speak for all of us. I would agree Google should be able to do with as they please with their own site if that was as far as their reach extended. But Google's reach starts with connectivity, an operating system, a search engine with 67% marketshare, video and much, much more. The internet was created with tax dollars, and I have a problem with Google being the "alpha and omega" of the internet. It's not good for competition and many small business owners I personally know would attest to that as well. Unfortunately some do see Google as simply a search site and fail to realize how many products and services they control well beyond search.

Nick Ker

12/20/2013 09:00 pm

I'm well aware of Google's omnipresence. But we were talking about the search engine, were we not? Are you saying that since Google has gotten very large and powerful, that they should destroy the quality of their flagship product just so everybody gets a turn at the top?! Not every kid deserves a trophy. Google, and the internet beyond Google, gives small business owners a tremendous opportunity to compete and win - as long as they follow the rules if they want to appear in Google's search engine. If those business owners choose to try to bite the hand that feeds them a free lunch, it is nobody's fault but their own. Google's "job" as a search engine, is to provide the best results for whatever people search. To that end, they have rules they expect webmasters to follow in order to keep people from cheating their way to better exposure than they really deserve. If they don't deserve to be at the top of organic search results or are too new to be there yet, they are free to pay for a good position through Adwords. Or do you think the paid spots should have a sliding scale so businesses who can't afford it can still use it? Maybe the NFL can run some superbowl ads for small businesses at the price of pennysaver classifieds too. Success usually requires hard work, and a better product or service than everyone else offers. If you have the exact same thing as 1000 others, you better be a damned good marketer. Those who have none of that going for them tend to be the ones who claim Google is unfair to small businesses. The ones who complain the loudest, usually didn't think following the guidelines was important. I don't recall anyone at Google ever saying "We are here to make sure everyone, no matter how bad their business practices may be, gets equal time at the top of our search results". Instead, you have to earn your way there based on the merits of what you do, just like in the offline world. Do you also think the guy selling oranges at the highway exit should be given a shot at being the produce distributor for grocery stores nationwide? He might be the king of the produce industry some day, but nobody is going to make it happen for him.


12/20/2013 09:16 pm

I think some just don't understand how search works and think Google has a board of directors that hand picks the search results or something. Google should make this much easier to discover, as it explains the search engine well:

Gracious Store

12/21/2013 11:42 pm

If Google's algorithm simply targets the "bad guys" so be it provided that honest hard working webmasters's sites will not fall innocent victims.

Randy Milanovic

12/22/2013 06:25 pm

Happy to hear that Matt! All I can share is that my SERP results and new business leads are at an all time high in the aftermath of Hummingbird.


12/26/2013 06:48 pm

i know several brilliant minds that would beat the snot out of this dude... comparing Matt Cutts to Einstein is laughable.


02/09/2014 01:37 pm

Their CEO is a communist what do you expect!

Brian Hughes

03/31/2014 10:11 pm

Keep power bombing these spammers! Randy, my SERP results and new leads are also at an all time high as well after the Hummingbird smack down.

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