Webmasters Upset Big Brands Get Personalized Responses From Google's Matt Cutts

May 22, 2013 • 8:41 am | comments (55) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine

Google VIP CardMany webmasters know that it is incredibly hard to get a Google representative to respond to their concerns one-on-one, let alone Google's head of search spam, Matt Cutts.

Google simply does not have the resources, man power or desire to respond to each webmaster concern one-on-one. I respect that and you should also.

But remember when Google slapped Sprint for a UGC spam penalty? Well, Google's Matt Cutts responded directly to the thread to help out. Matt Cutts also did so for Mozilla's penalty also.

This makes webmasters angry when they have been looking for personalized assistance from Google and have not received any.

Truth is, can you blame Google? Heck, I don't personally cover 95% of the webmaster issues in the forums. But when I see a big brand like Mozilla, Sprint, BBC, etc complaining in the forums, I am going to take notice and call it out. Google is also going to take notice because I called it out and because they are a big brand. People, consumers, users take more notice of bigger brands.

Is it fair? Probably not. But it is the world we live in. Google says time and time again, they try to level the playing field between big and small businesses. Is this hypocritical or Google simply cannot win in this situation?

Here is one complaint from the thread:

I had to LOL on this one Cutts. Here we have a major company complaining, just like all the rest of us small companies do, about pretty much the same stuff, yet you venture to give an answer. Wow, you are the front runner when it comes to Google customer service.

Seriously Matt, you and your company have collectively destroyed companies and lives on a massive scale with NO explanation, not even an email stating what Kent had, and left these failed sites to die.

Do the world a favor and get some customer service people employed to help people get on line when they have figure what the heck they have done wrong, which now is almost an impossible task on its own.

Forum discussion continued at Google Webmaster Help.

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Sam Sinton

05/22/2013 01:02 pm

While I hate Matt bashing / Google bashing, on this one point I couldn't agree more.


05/22/2013 01:05 pm

I am a newbie. I don't understand this point: You pay money + You buy links = Black hat You pay a SEO + Who gets link = White hat Am I missing something here?


05/22/2013 01:06 pm

Yes, you pay an SEO who 'gets links' and you are employing a black hat as opposed to donning one yourself.


05/22/2013 01:06 pm

You're missing the third variable: You pay money + Google Ads = proper.

Rick Noel, eBiz ROI, Inc.

05/22/2013 01:06 pm

One can certainly understand where the customer service inequity complaints from webmasters are coming from and even the perception that this is an indirect example of ad spend driving organic results, a perception that Google constantly defends against. Since the demands of Wall Street do not encourage hiring mass customer service reps to level the playing field, provide enhanced service to big brands only creates a PR issue.


05/22/2013 01:07 pm

Totally unrelated to acquiring links. You pay money for Google ads and you are buying advertising, you are in no way acquiring links that help you to rank.


05/22/2013 01:07 pm

Wrong. You pay a SEO + Who gets link = Grey hat


05/22/2013 01:08 pm

Exactly. You missed the point. The only way to 'win' is to simply buy Google ads.


05/22/2013 01:09 pm

I have to agree on this one. If they can't provide support to everyone they shouldn't provide support at all. I would suggest a paid support service but then you would still have the same problem - the smaller players wouldn't have a chance.


05/22/2013 01:12 pm

When the Sprint slap was announced (I saw it on this blog) I remember thinking: "God damn, John Mu, or worse, Matt Cutts is going to hop in to the thread and give very helpful advice..." And he does. Come on Matt, at least contact the guy privately. Doing this out in the open is s-t-u-p-I-d.


05/22/2013 01:15 pm

Can please someone explain me ... There is website X and Google. X allows Google to crawl and index its content. Google does it. At what moment X become a customer of Google ?


05/22/2013 01:19 pm

That's not a point, that is a conjecture which ignores the economic/social awareness reality of companies who can afford to buy large amounts of ads. It isn't ad spend = organic ranking. They may seem to correlate for large brands (spend a lot and also rank well) but that in no way implies causation. In fact, you would have to ignore a whole plethora of external factors to take your ads = ranking point seriously. It's a startlingly defeatist attitude. Maybe it is just excuse making, but it is frustrating that people actually buy into this 'ranking understanding'.


05/22/2013 01:22 pm

You pay SEO, because supposedly she/he can hide such activity. It's just not such obvious as in Black hat case. Those SEOs who really can hide (1%) cost a lot and I don't any reason for them to sell their secrets. Others (99%) pretend they can hide and will bring you a penalty sooner or later.


05/22/2013 01:30 pm

Oh, unless you mean the only way to rank is to buy the top ad spots... That is a way to easily rank the 'top spot' but it isn't the only way to rank. I am sure there are some SERPs that are pretty locked up with established sites and there are some that are spammed into irrelevance, but that is an error in choosing a niche to compete in.

Brian McDowell

05/22/2013 01:43 pm

I think people often forget that the Google search engine is a free service. If people expect to see customer support for a service then they should be willing to pay for it. Granted I know people who get smacked would love to pay for it after the fact but would those same people be willing to pay in order to use Google on a daily basis prior to feeling an impact? I doubt it. Matt replies to big issues and those case studies still yield best practices for small businesses.


05/22/2013 01:45 pm

I agree. The sad truth is that Google (and 99% of other companies) would be much better company for its users had it not go to Wall Street. Now they have to chase earnings and stock prices, they have to cut on useful services like Reader or Desktop and put resources to compete with Facebook by creating yet another social network. Now they create mobile phones and Internet networks...Users of search engine are not priority in any way...

Kole McRae

05/22/2013 01:47 pm

When you start advertising with Adwords and actually paying money to Google. You are not a customer until you actually pay them.


05/22/2013 01:48 pm

Matt replies to small issues with big companies and ignores big issues with small companies.


05/22/2013 01:53 pm

Absolutely agree.

Wendy Piersall

05/22/2013 01:55 pm

But Google makes money off of that crawled content. So they are 'getting paid', yet feel zero obligation to take care of the people creating the content that they rely on for their revenue.


05/22/2013 01:55 pm

Disqus messed everything up. Actually this was reply to James.


05/22/2013 01:58 pm

Did you pay to Google (excl. AdWords) ?

Graham Ginsberg

05/22/2013 02:03 pm

Google is now free? News to me. You should split Google Search into two aspects #1 Our Content and #2 PPC. Without Google showing those unpaid ads (Our Content), it would only show PPC 'paid content' and make the search almost useless. Hence Google relies on scraping to attain content. Remove Our Content and Google dies. When you say that my ad is 'free' understand that Google benefits from my ad and I do too. We allow Google to scrape our sites because we have an understanding that Google will be fair in using that information. Google is now THE most significant influence online and with that has a responsibility to act fairly with the information freely scraped from websites. And this goes well beyond complaints about Google to the Trade Commission. At this level its political. Their influence is global. Google cannot, at this level, do "whatever it likes" without consequences.


05/22/2013 02:07 pm

Then take ownership of the situation and block Google from crawling and indexing your site.


05/22/2013 02:15 pm

So, the first thing you noticed about SEO is the massive flaw at its center that people ignore. A lot of people could learn from you


05/22/2013 02:36 pm

My assumption is that Matt responded not because Sprint are necessarily a "big company," but because they spend a certain dollar amount on paid search ads. He was responding to them as a major client, not as one of the millions of users of a free service. That said, whether I'm right or not, I agree with all those who have said that he should have responded in private.

Brian McDowell

05/22/2013 02:39 pm

Graham, I am referring to the Search Engine service it provides someone looking for online content. Last I checked, I did not have to pay a fee in order to have Google provide me with results of what I am looking for. When I was a kid my parents bought me the set of Encyclopedia Bratanica. Information came at a cost. These days people don't say "look it up" anymore...they say "Google it".

Internet Man

05/22/2013 02:40 pm

Hmmm let's see here... Sprint spends between $30k-$50k per day on their Adwords campaign (*according to Spyfu)... AKA... until you start spending that kind of money, don't expect Mr. Cutts to answer you're questions.


05/22/2013 02:51 pm

"Remove Our Content and Google dies." No doubt you removed your content already, didn't you ?


05/22/2013 02:54 pm

Because the most (if not all) of the big issues with small companies are caused by themselves. They just can't acknowledge that. Who will be blamed then ?

Graham Ginsberg

05/22/2013 03:01 pm

I'm not Facebook. Google has no access to their content (and it is their content). Smart move on Facebook's part. Adding a block in robots.txt on your site isn't tough to block Google. Scraping (copying info from a site is illegal unless you have consent) after all its your stuff, right? But the issue isn't denying Google access to content because its mutually beneficial to both parties, but making others and Google aware, that control of this content is not in their hands but in the hands of billions of webmasters. The day may come, and pls don't doubt it, that the majority may ban Google from their sites. You want to set a date?


05/22/2013 03:12 pm

All smoke and no fire. Gee, color me surprised. "Work the way I want you to or else!"


05/22/2013 03:18 pm

I use noindex, nofollow, nocache on certain pages and it works just as it should - Google doesn't index such pages. Sorry, but 100% of your points are just invalid. It seems, that you blame Google, just because you can't afford to advertise on it.

Graham Ginsberg

05/22/2013 03:32 pm

The idea 'ethalon' made about blocking Google from legally or otherwise accessing your sites is a very sound one. It just needs to be on a global scale to have a long lasting affect on the search engine. But it can be done

Graham Ginsberg

05/22/2013 03:48 pm

Did I charge Google for the info it scraped from my site? No, and Google didn't charge me to display that information. That is called a fair trade. But abuse the relationship, as in the instance of displaying 'freely traded info' and you have a breakdown in the word 'fair'.


05/22/2013 03:56 pm

And what does stop you from disallow Google to show info from your site, if you believe it to be unfair ?

Graham Ginsberg

05/22/2013 04:00 pm

Sorry didn't undert..and Anti-SEO question. If this global #BlockGoogle is to be taken seriously, it can start one of 2 ways. Either a major site like Sprint, Bing or CNN blocks Google or its a viral request based on keen individuals on a much broader scope. Because Google caches almost everything they will need some time to clear their cache or risk prosecution having info in their possession without permission. If Anti-SEO question was"why don't I block google myself" I did. For a week on my main site. But you know that will have no affect on Google, only on me, so I would never encourage someone to do it without significant numbers backing them. An organized protest if you will. On http://www.robotstxt.org/robotstxt.html you can see an example of blocking "To exclude a single robot". They chose to block "BadBot". BadBot, BadBot whatcha gonna do :-)


05/22/2013 04:54 pm

"But you know that will have no affect on Google, only on me" ))) You had to make an experiment to understand that ??? Then obviously you have no any business experience. No doubt that you can't make business in highly competitive market. And this has nothing to do with Google.


05/22/2013 05:06 pm

By the way, I'm real estate customer in FL. I found perfect real estate agent on big nationwide website. Sure my search was started on Google. She provided perfect service and I absolutely don't care why this website was shown to me by Google on certain spot. I can provide probably more examples when Google failed, but in this case, related to real estate in FL, everything was fine. So, your point about nationwide and local, is same invalid as all others.

Graham Ginsberg

05/22/2013 05:18 pm

"Anti-SEO" sounds like you're a #BlockGoogle fan. Thanks for coming on board. Hey, all credit should be given to your pal "ethalon" when he most eliquently stated: "Then take ownership of the situation and block Google from crawling and indexing your site." Twitter #BlockGoogle and get it rolling


05/22/2013 05:22 pm

Completely disagree! You are renting, actually bidding for a link on and from Google, might not directly relate to organic rankings but it is still a link that relates to traffic. Google simply wants you to pay for their links and not anyone else's.

Graham Ginsberg

05/22/2013 05:25 pm

Truth, lots of truth. Without a link how the heck could they get to your site? You're still buying links, just they're ok "Google Paid Links"


05/22/2013 05:25 pm

Nope, I'm not. I don't like revolutions. Especially fired, but false (intentionally or not, but still false) statements of uneducated people. I had a chance to see what happens.

Michael Martinez

05/22/2013 10:46 pm

The comments here are a prime example of just how far people are willing to venture into nonsense to rationalize their failures because they suck at what they do for a living.

Graham Ginsberg

05/23/2013 02:27 am

Martinez, what exactly are you trying to say? That contributors to your SEO blog are better in some way? Don't bother answering, I read your blog...

Ved Tiwari

05/23/2013 10:04 am

Hey Michael, I am regular reading Barry's blog and i found a negative comment or say off the topic comment from your side with each post. I must say that you are following one of SEO techniques shared by Matt Cutts that " Participate in the controversies and your website will be automatically promoted" and suspect you are doing the same thing.

Bob L

05/23/2013 01:10 pm

By commenting on these highly visible cases, Google / Cutts is able to send a message to everyone who is paying attention. I am sure that they feel this gets closer to the "level playing field". The big brands are not getting special treatment with these responses. This is simply a tall soapbox for a message to be shared from.

Arun Jaiswal

05/23/2013 01:17 pm

Till NOW we believe that NO human power could manipulate the RANKING system... BUT I am just wondering ,,, The Days is not FAR.. when MC would charge Constancy FEE and start making money without knowledge of google authority.. OR big BRAND hire MC to help them to make their ranking status...better..

Arun Jaiswal

05/23/2013 01:30 pm

Why Do not we try to understand that GOOGLe understand ONLY PPC .. they do not believe on SEO and pays no attentions for SEARCH engine services. .

Michael Martinez

05/23/2013 02:19 pm

You obviously have not read all my comments here.

Michael Martinez

05/23/2013 02:20 pm

Graham, you SHOULD read my blog. Really.

Ved Tiwari

05/23/2013 02:30 pm

Agree Not All, But mostly since I started to read Barry's blog...I have shared what I observed...

Michael Martinez

05/23/2013 02:50 pm

Observe more.


05/25/2013 11:28 am

Michael Words should not hurt people...take care of that... I used read this blog everyday...But i never comment out....Because of your words now i started doing...


09/05/2013 01:53 am

I think what people need to realize is that getting angry at Google won't do NOTHING. Instead, build your business so it is NOT dependant on Google. If lives have been destroyed, then its nobodies fault but theyre own to live so frugaly off of free search traffic. Lesson learned. And this coming from someone who has lost ALOT to Panda and Penguin.

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