Matt Cutts, Google's Lead Spam Fighter, Takes Extended Time Off

Jul 4, 2014 • 9:21 am | comments (80) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Industry News

Matt Cutts

Google's head of search spam, Matt Cutts, announced on his blog that he is taking "a leave" through October of this year. In short, he is going completely off the grid and not dealing with anything Google related, i.e. his work, for the next four months or so.

Why? Did he burn out? Is he looking to do other things in work? He says no. He said, he is doing it because his wife deserves it:

When I joined Google, my wife and I agreed that I would work for 4-5 years, and then she’d get to see more of me. I talked about this as recently as last month and as early as 2006. And now, almost fifteen years later I’d like to be there for my wife more. I know she’d like me to be around more too, and not just physically present while my mind is still on work.

So we’re going to take some time off for a few months.

Spammers are going to take over Google's search results? Nah. Matt Cutts wrote, "Thanks to a deep bench of smart engineers and spam fighters, the webspam team is in more-than-capable hands. Seriously, they’re much better at spam fighting than I am, so don’t worry on that score."

Honestly, Matt has been dealing with so much negativity for so long, both on how Google isn't fair, how Google is immoral, how Google is evil and even on positive things that turn around. He has been attacked for years and just recently was verbally called a liar by Jason Calacanis who said he wants revenge. I doubt now that it got to him and that is why he is taking off. He would have burned out a long time ago.

Is this a sign of things to come? Will he eventually retire and get into something else, like maybe politics? I wouldn't be surprised if that wasn't part of him 2-5 year timeline.

But in October/November, he will come back, he will see that Google did manage to chug along without him. He will be more comfortable leaving Google with their day-to-day stuff and will likely be more comfortable leaving Google. That being said, he also will be refreshed, energized and ready to get his hands dirty in web spam again, at least for the time being.

Who will be the next poster-boy at Google to be slammed and blamed for Google's algorithm updates? Maybe John Mueller? John did take the most recent hit for announcing the authorship change. Maybe it would be nameless and spread across Google as a team? It is unclear. But I think things are set up in a way that this can work.

In any event, Matt can take the time off (he has earned it) and more importantly deserves the time off. We will miss you Matt but your wife deserves the time. Enjoy!

Forum discussion at Twitter, Google+, WebmasterWorld and more coverage on Techmeme.

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F1 Steve

07/04/2014 01:31 pm

He has a wife? I assumed he was gay for some reason, and I'm not saying that's a bad thing because it isn't, I just sincerely thought he was gay! Good for Matt, have fun on ur hols and get back to what's important in life, your family!!! No one wishes they worked harder on their death bed, they all wish they spent more time with loved ones!


07/04/2014 01:32 pm

Any idea if major Google updates, such as Penguin, can be refreshed during his time off? Could Matt really miss an update like that? He's probably the go-to-guy if a big corp. is hit by an update and/or overseas the collateral damage fallout when these bigger updates roll.


07/04/2014 01:40 pm

His statements read more like a permanent leave of absence rather than an extended vacation. I wonder if this is Panda 4 related? There has been increasing chatter about loss of market share, poor search quality, and the terrible way this roll out was handled publicly. He even mentioned yesterday, that he has been scolded for his negative behavior on Twitter. Fixing what is not broken is the fastest way to destroy a company.

Barry Schwartz

07/04/2014 01:42 pm

I am pretty confident algos will be launched in his absence.

The decay & fall of Cutts

07/04/2014 01:54 pm

Great, now we have to deal with Brian White:-(


07/04/2014 01:56 pm

Agree, as a person I'm sure mat might be an okay guy but he has screwed his professional career with smug tweets and poorly judged photo cuddly toy photo shoots! I suspect he has done more pr damage than anyone in the past 2 years. Perhaps it's not even related to work, maybe a marriage in crisis is the root cause!


07/04/2014 01:59 pm

Perhaps to show that Google spam/updates can work fine without him.

Find the balance

07/04/2014 02:22 pm

I wonder if average Google users noticed a change in the newer search results. Can you imagine penalizing tens of thousands of websites, killing thousands of jobs and ruining peoples lives only to find out no one has noticed that the results have improved. Not to mention that Adwords revenue is in decline because the a large part of the people that were buying ads were hit by penalties. People in the industry understand the results have improved but what about the average Joe, are they asking "what happened to E-how"

Yo Mamma

07/04/2014 02:54 pm

"Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know" but in the case of G$$gle and Cutts, the devil couldn't get any worse, so I say "A change is like a holiday" Make it a long holiday

Yo Mamma

07/04/2014 02:57 pm

While I agree with the first part of your statement this I do not agree with "People in the industry understand the results have improved" "results have improved" - No G$$gle has streamlined, polarized and alienated some of the best content in the internet, and worse, its now discouraged free flowing information from being created. If you cannot be seen in G$$gle, there is no point in creating it. Also the whack-a-mole concept is also in full force since G$$gle destroyed many millions of lives, which has INCREASED SPAM. If I was Cutts, I would be very ashamed and reconsider what he is doing in his life - A true devilish personality

Yo Mamma

07/04/2014 03:00 pm

His wife made him a quilt. he posted the picture. She has no imagination and repeated the same pattern over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Now if he cannot tell his wife to stop inhouse spamming, how efficient can he be on policing the world wide web? None - Big Fail Matts wife spams her quilt and Matt knows spammers are lazy. Matt hence says his wife is lazy

Dwivid Sharma

07/04/2014 03:06 pm

Everyone needs vacation and family is only a true property of every single person. Have a great time Matt.

Yo Mamma

07/04/2014 03:07 pm

This maybe it, I think the other one was B&W Wife of Matt: You need to get more imagination in your 'art work'. Try cutting out very cool materials (shapes and colors mixed into designs) and cutting and pasting them together. Using straight colors is boring. Sure its more work, but the results are no so boringly spammy.


07/04/2014 03:14 pm

I totally disagree, I know of no one in the industry who thinks Panda 4.0 increased the quality of Google search results--almost universally and even inside Google people think this update and the topical authority idea behind it was a failure in practice. Just so you know according to Searchmetrics eHow's search visibility was greatly enhanced by this update.


07/04/2014 03:26 pm

After many ups and down Matt managed to become a celebrity in SEO world. Matt takes a holiday and everyone talks about it. Ironic. But as opposed to yo mama , if i had to choose between two a*******, I would always pick the one I haven't tried before. But I don't think matt is devil, he is just a guy who gets paid for what he does. I doubt he has any personal grudge with anyone. Ruining one person's business is boom of another. I do not understand why he do not get credit for the helping boom new businesses. I am sure all the controversial decisions like penalizing nest competitors and such came from BOD. He is just an engineer for christ sake. At the end of the day, the better always wins. Don't fight with the referee, fight with your opponents. Darwin said who survives wins. Survival for fittest. Don't be some cry babies and do what you gotta do.


07/04/2014 03:45 pm

Of course people that had their sites penalized and "their lives ruined" will say results have not improved. But the rest of us agree that there is a dramatic improvement to results over the last several years, and even in the most recent updates. Sure there may be sporadic exceptions sprinkled throughout random search phrases, but as a whole I don't know anyone (other than people bad at SEO) that welcome the Google algorithm from the yesteryears.


07/04/2014 03:53 pm

In the spam industry yes, in the white-hat SEO industary, well quite a few people I've spoken to prefer the results afterwards, also most non-power user searchers do as well, who are afterall Google's main customers.


07/04/2014 04:11 pm

To Adam: The "dramatic improvement" may be in Google valet only. Last couple years Google do witch-hunting instead search and yes, it killed many absolutely innocent websites.


07/04/2014 04:11 pm

Well we will see how this plays out in the coming months, but expect Panda 4.0 changes to be rolled back. The issue as Googler's have told me is that they believe Matt's idea of domain topical authority and a lack of reliance on links sound like a DE-evelution of search, exactly the way it was done prior to Google. Remember Alta Vista with its domain authority and ignoring of links and its resulting poor search quality. Google pioneered page authority and not domain authority and utilized links to determine this. Many see his vision here as Back to The Past and not the future.


07/04/2014 04:35 pm

I hope so. Whilst Matt deserves a break and has his priorities in order, it wouldn't be fair for the online world to wait around for him to return from vacation. I mean Penguin has been 9 months!


07/04/2014 04:35 pm

Now that he has revealed where he goes cruising I wonder how many asseos are going to book the same trip.

Yo Mamma

07/04/2014 05:34 pm

Its easy to find him. Look for the middle aged white geek with a Google shirt that doesn't wear a google glass. This is one thing I like about him, he doesn't wear that junk spy camera

Yo Mamma

07/04/2014 05:36 pm

Anyone that can tolerate more than 2 words out of Steven with Locks, isn't a person I give any credit to. If someone handles more than that and goes into a full blown conversation with him, they're likely very dim or deaf or will suffer from a brain seizure


07/04/2014 06:45 pm

I knew it! Durant is taking over the head of googles spam team!


07/04/2014 07:00 pm

What is the name of Matt's Wife?

Spambob Durante spants

07/04/2014 07:43 pm

Lmao if Durante took over it would be the apocalypse!!


07/04/2014 07:49 pm

Mrs cutts


07/04/2014 08:23 pm

What does this mean for the next Penguin update/refresh? Will we have to wait until he returns??? Gee Whiz!

Durant_Head of spam Team 2014!

07/05/2014 12:54 am

Lol Durant was Matt Cutts in disguise.


07/05/2014 04:59 am

While they have not admitted it, Penguin ran back at the beginning of Jan & in the middle of May.

F1 Steve

07/05/2014 06:31 am


Spambob Durante Pants

07/05/2014 06:37 am



07/05/2014 09:32 am

This is a great point, mat has managed to oversea the destruction of diversity in a personal vendetta style of approach! People don't just up and leave like this he has been pushed!


07/05/2014 10:16 am


Patti Paz

07/05/2014 11:43 am

I am missing the 'news' here. He is only doing what he is told. There'll be another one soon, if there is already one. So What??


07/05/2014 03:31 pm

Why does everyone follow Matt Cutts? He's Google's official mouthpiece. That means he's lying to us most of the time.


07/05/2014 05:12 pm

Dear Matt, please be on the vacation for the rest of your life. You ruined so many businesses - you are NOT WELCOME BACK!

Luiz Centenaro

07/05/2014 06:06 pm

Please stop personally hating on Matt Cutts, for he is just doing his job. If you dislike Google you can use a variety of other search engines, and if you are against the search engine by all write about how "Google is Evil" but to hate on someone for doing their job is ridiculous.


07/06/2014 12:47 am

Who give the Google rights to decide what websites is good or bad for people? Google must search relevant information - that's it!. I lost at least $300,000 because Google filtered my website without any logical reasons - I never used any span, black SEO, etc technique. If Matt doing his job hi got money and his salary included the feedback.


07/06/2014 03:43 am

$10 says the missed adwords target revenue for the 2nd quarter. We will find out on the 17th.

Dana Tan

07/06/2014 05:55 am

Matt, are those Invasalign braces? I have 15-year-old who's interested in them. Let me know. Cheers for your time off. You've earned it for sure!


07/06/2014 06:26 am

I have never seen so many horrible people in one place as this comment section. You should be ashamed! Do you even think before you type or it's just your ass leaking on the keyboard. You are disgusting, horrible people. Have fun on your vacation Matt, you earned it. Good job on improving search quality consistently over the years! Only losers, black-hat spammers, people with websites from the stone age complain.Good riddance! Instead of complaining, how about working on your website for once? You disgusting pathetic losers!

Ozair Traffic

07/06/2014 07:12 am

I think he might been doing something in the past that will come in front of us in his absence. I think the term SEO will finally be omitted and a new more powerful one will come that is commonly known as Digital Marketing. I really don't know what to say more but I can say only this.

F1 Steve

07/06/2014 09:10 am

>>you should be ashamed

F1 Steve

07/06/2014 11:29 am

Many people require a leader, someone to follow, they are sheep looking for a Shepard! Some people were born to lead and others to follow, it's just human nature!

Yo Mamma

07/06/2014 01:10 pm

He who complains about complainers is he who has reached an all time low in quality use of his time. Besides, everyone has the right to complain and as an example, if there were more complainers about Hitler and his weird ideas, so many wouldn't have died. Worthy of complaints? Enter G$$GLE MATT CUTTS; Complaint worthy? Only destroyed the lives of millions and promoted big business that use his ADWORDS in their place. Worthy of complaints? I think so. On the other hand, Matt and his quilting wife need time off to attend a quilting 101 course, then advance into a quilting with design course and then a quilting without SPAM course. The last course is the toughest for them and will likely challenge their imagination the most and could even dissolve their fragile marriage.

Yo Mamma

07/06/2014 01:19 pm

Someone near and dear made this quilt for a kid. See the work needed to make it interesting. So many materials added for variety and subject matter. Now this is just a hobbyist quilt

Adeel Sami

07/06/2014 01:40 pm

Enjoy the vacation, Matt! See ya soon!


07/06/2014 01:41 pm

Did Matt Really ruined many businesses? I think Matt Cutts is not the one deciding who is to bury under the SERP. It's the team of smart people who creates the algorithms. I read that someone blamed Matt for Panda while he is not even the one who came up with the algorithm.


07/06/2014 05:24 pm

Losers, spammers, blah, blah, blah ... son enjoy you business until Google allow it. The day when you become a "loser and black-hat spammer" is coming soon ... be sure!

Jason Diller

07/06/2014 10:01 pm

Matt's coming over to our agency to play drinking games... but dont tell anyone.

Harish Bali

07/07/2014 03:30 am

He is a nice guy, i try to look at the positive side, at least Google comes forward to share opinions and ask for the same, which does not happen with many other companies. Matt enjoy your holiday, great decision.

Suraj Rai

07/07/2014 07:07 am

I am really impressed with your post. You shared great post about spam fighter that is very useful information for all Google users. Thanks Barry Schwartz to share this post.


07/07/2014 08:04 am

"... has reached an all time low in quality use of his time" Oh, the irony.


07/07/2014 08:16 am

In comparison, 2 nano-seconds of Yo Mamma talking and your brain will explode from sheer dumbness.

Ashish Ahuja

07/07/2014 11:27 am

@rustybrick:disqus most ppl will need a new poster boy to throw the darts at after the next Penguin update which should be scheduled for anytime now, if google has found and more footprints to quash or it may be just a refresh

Ashish Ahuja

07/07/2014 11:31 am

only a little refresh nothing new that time


07/07/2014 12:32 pm

Are you people retarded? penguin is running it has ran on a couple occasions since 2.1. Just because they have not announced it does not mean it has not ran,


07/07/2014 01:48 pm

With the search results returning mainly Fortune 500 companies, there is little need for Matt to be around anymore. He can sit at the beach and watch his stock shares rise while the small businesses chase their tails disavowing links, making their webpage keyword density .0000001% for their main keywords, etc.


07/07/2014 03:40 pm

Ha-ha-ha! Even on the virtual funeral people try to earn "natural" backlinks by posting "about nothing" comments.


07/07/2014 08:48 pm

But he is the one who is always smug about it later.


07/07/2014 08:52 pm

You are confused... searchers aren't customers... advertisers are... Searchers are what Google sells to advertisers.


07/08/2014 12:33 am

That's how you should feel when you are the "head" of the spam team. You will feel overwhelmed like "oh my gosh, I did the right thing," while to sum all of it, it is his team that did it. He's just like a dummy who faces the crowd and tell them misleading answers about their queries. That's all he is. :D


07/08/2014 12:34 am

You are right. He's the spokesperson of the spam team and he is very careful to say only the things that mislead people. However, I follow him because I like when he blogs about other things than SEO. I also anticipate his announcements of algorithm roll-outs. I like that person.


07/08/2014 12:39 am

I agree. Even if he's in Google he does not wear that glass that looks like from Dragon Ball Z.


07/08/2014 12:42 am

I could not agree more. There were sites that were penalized by Google but in the bottom line, SERPs is improving. It might be that not all those businesses used shady tactics, but most of them does. Or at least hired some baddass who calls himself an SEO. I have seen so many clients like that and puts the blame on you not having to solve their current issues made by previous contractors.

Harish Bali

07/08/2014 02:17 am



07/08/2014 08:34 am

Well, you could argue Searchers are customers as well, they are paying for the search engine service with ad clicks, but I'd agree advertisers are the main customers. Since its not a traditional industry, the traditional names don't always quite gel ;)

Robert Fisher

07/08/2014 04:32 pm

Simon, I have gotten to the point that I ignore all the people who post as avatars or with names there is no way of tracing, no pics, etc. What you write here is excellent. If more people would focus on the issue or the solution instead of having a perpetual axe to grind or point to prove it would certainly allow for more enlightened reading on posts and comments. I imagine that the haters would love to be Matt Cutts from the standpoint of at least he has credibility in many circles. (For the haters - because you disagree with someone does not make them less than credible.) Thanks for giving a shout out to common decency and respect.


07/08/2014 10:16 pm

"... all the people who post as avatars or with names there is no way of tracing, no pics, etc." - did you ever ask yourself why?

Robert Fisher

07/09/2014 04:15 pm

I'm thinking that is rhetorical!


07/10/2014 03:20 pm

Nothing rhetorical - where money is starting freedom of speech is stopped.

Jeff Howard

07/10/2014 03:32 pm

There were plenty of good White Hat websites that went out of business due to being Collateral Damage of Penguin! They certainly have a right to complain!

Robert Fisher

07/10/2014 06:18 pm

Alex, I am at a loss as to what it is you are trying to communicate. Matt Cutts has to take some time off and people who generally never state who they are seemingly so they can make nasty comments use his need as an excuse to make more nasty comments. What I believe Simon was trying to say is, "dammit, where is your human decency?" You can cloak yourself in money v. freedom of speech all you want and it will not change that if you are posting things anonymously that are on the face of them meant to degrade or harm another human being, people are going to question your reasoning. I will tell you that I use my name for a reason; when you say things there are consequences good and bad, but I would rather say something negative and own it, than hide. Even if I am rejected by all, I will still be able to say I stood up for what I believed. Google is not hiding the fact they are in it for the money. Those of us who CHOOSE to play on their playground need to accept it or change playgrounds. But, again, that is my opinion as me, not as an avatar or pseudonym.


07/10/2014 11:41 pm

Yes are brave boyscout. I always envy people who has simple answers for any questions.

Robert Fisher

07/11/2014 01:06 am

Alex, come out from hiding if you have the courage.


07/11/2014 04:33 pm

I build my business in internet 10 years year by year. And now by "collateral damage" I lost it. What kind of respect I have to keep to the killers?


07/11/2014 05:03 pm

Examples of sites that went out of business by Penguin and no fault of their own please?

Ben Guest

07/15/2014 12:45 pm

Matt is working on a new index for small businesses. It will be called Google.smb, and is the solution for all those small businesses trying to compete with big brands. Now you'll get your own search engine by October. The days will soon be forgotten when Fortune 500 companies outranked small businesses. Yay!

Jeff Howard

07/21/2014 06:41 am

Do you care to expand? Are you of the belief that Penguin only harmed those that spammed? I can guarantee you we did not spam and yet we lost 90-95 of our traffic from Google?

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