Google's Cutts Say Penguin Is About Links?

Aug 20, 2012 • 8:26 am | comments (77) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google PenguinThe majority of SEOs believe Google's Penguin update is about links and it is a link based algorithm.

Google has never fully confirmed it is a primarily link based algorithm but maybe that has changed?

Google's Matt Cutts responded to a question on Twitter saying:

The hard part here is that Matt was not being specific in his response. Yes, he was responding to the question that read:

Matt, can you please tell us exactly what to fix now then so we are not caught off guard? Don't give us the secret sauce, just be transparent and say "watch your linking text" or "check your HTML for inadvertent alt attributes with keywords in them" or "delete all your old links on "put-it-there-yourself" pages (or nofollow them)" or whatever this new penguin eats :-) That would be awesome transparency that does not give anything new away, just focuses our efforts. Thanks!

But is that response a general response or a Penguin specific response?

Only Matt knows for sure, but I thought I point it out.

I did ask Matt what he was referring to specifically but I did not yet receive a response.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Previous story: Patent: Google Faking Search Results To Trick SEOs?



08/20/2012 12:34 pm

A bunch of BS, only stupid people listen to Matt Cutts, a highly paid professional liar. Panda and Penguin are so they can hit decent sites that got good traffic from Google without paying. Google wants to increase PPC, that's all. Panda and Penguin doubled their clicks on ads. Matt Cutts lies night and day. Matt Cutts is not an engineer, just a pathological liar used by Google. He gets paid by Google. He owns Google stock. All engineers get paid by $Google and have Google stock so the want the stock to skyrocket. What Google is doing is illegal, very illegal.

Geoff Lord

08/20/2012 12:36 pm

no you wont recieve a response either !! google are not about to reveal anything just in case us ordinary guys find a way to cut thro his algo or the blackhatters manage to read between the lines and work out the algo....Google are a law unto themselves, but have you seen how many are leaving google search and searching elsewhere !!

Do not delete

08/20/2012 12:40 pm

(do not delete comments that Google doesn't like Barry) A bunch of BS, only stupid people listen to Matt Cutts, a highly paid professional liar. Panda and Penguin are so they can hit decent sites that got good traffic from Google without paying. Google wants to increase PPC, that's all. Panda and Penguin doubled their clicks on ads.If organic results improved why wasn't their revenue hit? Matt Cutts lies night and day. Matt Cutts is not an engineer, just a pathological liar used by Google. He gets paid by Google. He owns Google stock. All engineers get paid by $Google and have Google stock so the want the stock to skyrocket. What Google is doing is illegal, very illegal.

Barry Schwartz

08/20/2012 12:41 pm

I don't delete them but I should since you are too afraid to use your real name.

Ramesh Nair

08/20/2012 01:01 pm

Wondering if all the SEO guys who abuse Matt will change their stance if their site goes up in ranking after the next update! ;)


08/20/2012 01:06 pm

True, google can't just disclose anything here. Wat google can do is only to have some good suggestions a hint may be good one :)

Praveen Sharma

08/20/2012 01:11 pm

Most of the webmasters who are in Anti-Google category, always abuse Google for its algorithms and updates, but at the end of the day, they want their site to be on the first page of Google itself. I mean if you hate Google so much, just disallow Google from crawling your site and you will never ever be hurt by Google updates.

David Smith

08/20/2012 01:18 pm

Google are training its searchers to click on ads when it comes to commercial searches by making the organics less relevant and further down the page. The perfect example of this is making Google Shopping a pay-to-play model. It's no longer about relevancy but how much you pay. A big brand is (according to E Schmidt) already a relevant and quality result by dint of being a big brand. THEREFORE, in Google's eyes - might as well just make commercial searches a pay-to-play model - it acts like a filter to big brands. Of course, it makes Google more money too. And of course, to anyone with any kind of common sense, absolutely trashes Google's value in the long run. I mean - if Google want to court the big brands on commercial searches, it would be easy to copy their business model and just index the top 10,000 brands websites and create similar (or better!) results than Google. Google's unique selling point (depth and breadth of their index on commercial searches) is fast disappearing.

David Smith

08/20/2012 01:21 pm

I can disclose that Google needs to make more each quarter to please Wall Street. That's why Panda hit more sites each time and that's why Penguin will do the same, hit more sites to meet the next quarter's earnings target. Mark this post. Maybe a token recovery but many more victims that escaped the first Penguins. Less organic traffic = more clicks on ads and more advertisers or higher PPC prices.

David Smith

08/20/2012 01:30 pm

I don't have much patience to explain but what Google is doing is illegal in USA and EU. Probably even in your homeland, India, Bangladesh or whatever it is. Leaving anti-trust issues aside, if a search engine claims to be unbiased, they cannot manipulate results for profit.

Aaron Charlie

08/20/2012 01:33 pm

"Google U.S. Search Share Hits Record High" Hmmm.....

Brijesh Bhalodia

08/20/2012 01:35 pm

Barry, I am shocked after seeing the comments. Actually I am also shocked after reading this post on 7 result pages implemented for more paid inclusion? I think so.

Praveen Sharma

08/20/2012 01:44 pm

And what about people who wants to manipulate Google's search ranking algorithms by creating baclinks through illegal means. Doesn't Google is authorized to take action against such websites?


08/20/2012 02:04 pm

Oh no, seems like all losers from WebmasterWorld moved here ... Guys, are you so non-professional, that you even can't create your own forum to cry there ? The moto of your forum could be "Losers united" )) Sorry, for off topic, but this thread was ruined anyway with such posts on top already.


08/20/2012 02:10 pm

Strange enough only losers with "decent" sites see Google's manipulations.


08/20/2012 02:47 pm

Dude, get a job, or a productive hobby... or something.


08/20/2012 03:04 pm

The question that was asked was never going to be answered fully by MC so it's a waste of breath (or finger energy, w/e). What is surprising is that MC actually responded like the Google politician he is. I'm sure in MC's mind he thought he was turning a new page by responding to such a question to help show us "SEO's" that he was committed to more transparency. " Certainly links are a primary area to monitor" sounds massively transparent to me.


08/20/2012 03:10 pm

Yeah, he must publish the whole algo ... with clarifications ! And transfer a bunch of shares to every SEO as an excuse.


08/20/2012 03:22 pm

I don't understand why this is even generating discussion. Is it news to anyone that Penguin is primarily about links?

Barry Schwartz

08/20/2012 03:24 pm

Yes. It is news.


08/20/2012 03:27 pm

Sorry Barry...didn't mean to imply that you shouldn't have reported on the tweet as it is something that the SEO community is buzzing about. It just seems to me like Penguin has *always* been primarily about links.

Barry Schwartz

08/20/2012 03:36 pm

Never fully confirmed by google.


08/20/2012 03:37 pm

Why perpetuate the negativity both with this comment and your name? You're doing exactly what you're complaining about...


08/20/2012 03:38 pm

Who is this tool?


08/20/2012 03:42 pm

That's just it no one expects him to be transparent about the Algo and I understand why he can't because people would then game the system. What I was talking about was his claim of increased transparency, when there is none.


08/20/2012 03:49 pm

I like to look at the Penguin as a bundle of sensitive areas. Anyone remember the over-optimization penalty? Guess it`s one of the birds` missions.

Naween Patel

08/20/2012 04:12 pm

I am very disappointed in Barry and other "SEO" writers that just write Google talking points. Shame on them becoz Google not to be taken a full face value. Only sure thing is Google earnings go up. Why?


08/20/2012 04:16 pm

The people that work for Google are paid by Google??? This is news to me my friend. I will be moving my search box over to Bing immediately.


08/20/2012 04:25 pm

Please do delete this stuff from the page, it adds nothing to the conversation and gets old pretty quickly. You could accumulate them all and publish them together on their own special page instead. It doesn't seem to matter what the article is about as these comments are always the same. Also maybe you could put a disclaimer in every time you mention Matt Cutts along the lines of: "Yes Matt Cutts does work for, and is paid by, Google. We are also aware that Google is a for profit company" I'm not sure what impact it would have but it might cut down on some of the rubbish comments :)

Vaneesh Rasmu

08/20/2012 04:30 pm

This and the vitriol in the comments of Barry's post about the upcoming Penguin update are part of the natural cycle. Hopefully for Google, the next part in the cycle is far away. That part will be when average users begin to find that a different search engine is providing them cleaner more relevant results. Remember how this happened to AltaVista years ago when they over-commercialized their results and people began choosing the cleaner and more relevant search engine known as Google.


08/20/2012 04:31 pm

I thought that was separate to Peguin. If memory serves (and it may not so feel free to correct) there was a Panda update, which included the over optimisation stuff, a blog network take down and the Penguin update in quick succession


08/20/2012 04:48 pm

Somebody have to call things by their real names.


08/20/2012 04:54 pm

I don't know about you guys, but Matt's answer to me really helps me out and any SEO who knows how to read between the lines. PS: no it is not common knowledge only rumor and superstition, that penguin was certainly about links, until, and only until, google confirms it - which they now have and never have before. this really focuses my efforts - their algo could have been going after anything.


08/20/2012 04:55 pm

And how did you make conclusion, that I don't have one ?


08/20/2012 05:16 pm

And still not fully confirmed by Google.

Webstats Art

08/20/2012 05:16 pm

Barry's traffic is peaking this month. Check the graph with the blue line.. , so well done Barry!

Codex Meridian

08/20/2012 05:18 pm

Nothing further to speculate here, simply see how Google's earnings increase after they implement this update and see how you are now considering buying ads from them because you just lost almost all the organic traffic you had before. Penguin is all about generating boat loads of cash to Google. End of discussion.


08/20/2012 05:24 pm


08/20/2012 05:29 pm

Lol.. If Matt Cutts explains or says anything "specific" regarding the Algorithm updates imagine the amount of Brainstorming Sessions it will be create from the moment it goes LIVE! :D

Pro Small Biz

08/20/2012 05:54 pm

Let's make believe that everything is fine and that Google is honest like Danny Sullivan does? He knows better than that but it's profitable for him to tow the Google line. Matt Cutts lies to benefit himself and his employer, Google. If Google is manipulation SERPs for profit that's illegal and no amount of anon posting by Google employees is going to do it. Why after every "search improvement" clicks on ads increase enormously? WHY?


08/20/2012 06:35 pm

DISQUS script is total piece of junk. My +1 was about SLignt post. Why does it look now like I support this spam above by Pro Small Biz ? Barry, are they paying you to use their product ? I can't believe you don't see how weak it is.

Barry Schwartz

08/20/2012 06:41 pm

It was pretty good. What issues are you having?


08/20/2012 06:53 pm

why matt leak their algo points.does he want to get out from google ...


08/20/2012 07:10 pm

See above. I replied SLight post with +1. Then Pro Small Biz replied SLight also and thread became a mess. Check other threads, with a lot of posts. It's ok, when just two persons have conversation. It becomes a mess, if the third person posts something in the middle of conversation. And it's a total mess, when more people are involved. It's good for the notes. When person posts something and leaves the thread. Or very small conversations. It's functionality is very limited.

Barry Schwartz

08/20/2012 07:24 pm

Yep and never will be.

Michael Martinez

08/20/2012 07:52 pm

I don't see how one can justify interpreting Matt's comment as being about Penguin since Google took massive action against links before Penguin rolled out in April.


08/20/2012 09:22 pm

Interesting! Joshua, a couple months ago you firmly said that Penguin is not about links and told off everybody who didn't agree. Now you change your mind?

Ian Scott

08/20/2012 09:45 pm

Yes, it is "news" as there is still much controversy and opinion about this. I for one saw sites that tank with Penguin that were high quality sites, completely natural back link profile, but probably over optimized onsite. Onsite over optimization was cleaned up, and sites slowly creeped back up.


08/20/2012 09:46 pm

your a noob


08/20/2012 10:02 pm

their algorithm must be open source. It only one way we can be sure google not cheating us (like G doing right now). It only one way how google can be transparent for webmasters.


08/20/2012 10:31 pm

So we can use xRumer on our competitors to gain those last few positions and rank number 1? Now I know why a forum I mod on is still so heavily infested with spam!


08/20/2012 11:49 pm

Yeah lots of us venting. Traffic will disappear though, when ads become the whole front page experience at Google.


08/20/2012 11:59 pm

In Defence of Danny he does sometimes go on the attack. Not as much as we would like. However I guess he is a journalist at heart and they do try to be impartial. Same with Barry!


08/20/2012 11:59 pm

Disqus don't like you! Kind of like the SEO who broke your heart!

Jack Sparrow

08/21/2012 04:56 am

No matter how others respond to your comment, I would say what you said is the real truth. I have never heard Matt Cutts provide any proper explanation to any questions asked.... and most of his answers are lies....

Alex Thompson

08/21/2012 05:19 am

Good question, Matt talks about algorithm points means you should not spam any links.


08/21/2012 05:40 am

I'd say it is all about links - and we just may see the news buzzing again about those unnatural link emails Google sent last month. Take this post and combine it with the chatter about Google's timely spammer re-rank patent... result set for a long time based on all sorts of things including the number of sites linking to any of the sites in the initial result set and user behavior based re-ranking.. The idea that they throw in random variation or time based re-ranking of suspected spammer sites or algo confirmed sites to throw folks off their trail seems like a pretty interesting way to either confirm or weaken their spammer site assumptions… As I read the patent and chatter, I can’t help but think about how many sites may have fell into the trap and scrambled to ‘fix’ things when they received the unnatural links email warning last month. Google did say something like some sites were safe to ‘ignore’ the message. Maybe they were fishing to see what changes ensued as a result of the email and by making quick changes spammers and shades of gray were quickly revealed to Google. Did your SEO firm or you panic and make changes just in case it was this or that? How do feel knowing that Google may well have simply gone fishing to see what you would change?

Website Developers

08/21/2012 10:02 am

Yes I am totally agree with you, Matt Just want to confuse us


08/21/2012 10:04 am

Yes, Matt Cutts works for Google. I assume that part of his job as head of the web spam team is to connect with webmasters and as part of that SEO's. In this role he gives advice where he can. Remember his job is as head of the web spam team. He does not own Google, he does not create and drive their business strategy. He tries to make the results have less spam in them and communicates with webmasters about various updates to that end. He is obviously restricted by policy and I would of thought that Google had some pretty tight non disclosure agreements in place with their employees around the workings of the algorithm. So no he is not going to suddenly reveal all. Google are of course trying to monetize their product, they are a business. They have shareholders and a board to please who are, at the end of the day, interested in the bottom line. I don't get what's so amazing about that. There is no 'conspiracy' going on here. Google are a business and so want to make money. At the end of the day, you have a choice. You can use many other mediums to advertise your business online. From social media to ad networks and platforms (there are plenty Google do not own) or of course competing search engines. It's not that I think Google are amazing, I don't. I think that they are pushing the quality of their results down the toilet and are sacrificing the core values that made them so successful in the first place in exchange for bigger profit margins. However I don't think there is some sort of conspiracy going on here. At the end of the day, they are a business, they are out to make money. They may do this at the expense of UX and in the long term they will suffer for it. Big deal. That's business, that's the way the world works. Could they be more transparent, yes of course. I think it would be great and actually help them as a business. Doesn't mean they have to though.


08/21/2012 11:25 am

Does this mean they'll finally pick up on churchills canonical wheel?


08/21/2012 11:33 am

Check the viedeos on you tube from Google web master central with Matt Cutts - in those videos he's not lying :)


08/21/2012 11:35 am

Well said, but there is no way these people will listen to such arguments. And in fact any arguments. Who is responsible for their faults in this case ?

Winson Yeung

08/21/2012 11:43 am

SEO is all about Matt Cutt. Just 1 sentence or 1 tweet from him and the SEO goes haywire... Definitely SEO is about links, it always about links.. Just hope the new update won't have bad effect on our sites. lol

Ajay Prasad

08/21/2012 11:56 am

Google penguin mainly concentrates on the webspam, such as the website which do not follow the quality guidelines of google.

Matt Coffy

08/21/2012 12:39 pm

One thing I can say really is that the comments are going to get more interesting in the coming days. Matt Cutts may not be always direct with his answers, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing.


08/21/2012 01:28 pm

Hey everyone "Anti-SEO" is a social media manager for Google...his userame is just to throw you off. Just look at all his/her posts in ..all are in defense of Google and its pretty consistent too. Google = PURE EVIL ...STILL


08/21/2012 03:03 pm

Not gonna lie, but I'm thoroughly concerned about my future as an in-house SEO at my current company these days. Google keeps crushing SEO's work over and over. If you work in a questionable niche - loans, auto insurance lead gen, it is unbelievably ugly out there. Sites I had ranking well for terms for 2+ years have just vanished from SERPs. I don't even rank for my brand/site name anymore after getting through the first iterations of Panda and Penguin. These sites were as white hat as you can get, full of original content done by my in-house writers - talking 1,000+ articles on two sites, just gone. Even went back and removed any link that was remotely questionable. Honestly don't know what to do anymore.


08/21/2012 04:09 pm

Your brain is working the same way as before Panda, but internet business totally changed. I don't want to waste time here explaining you modern basics. There were couple of adequate posts on WW, where guys were trying to think in the right path. Read them carefully. Content is not the only king anymore. There are much more kings since Panda. Business became very very very complicated. I can't imagine how noobs could step in it nowadays. Their ideas must be genius to successfully compete. Well, but from the other side why should it be different ? Try to sell your show on TV for example. Or sell the book you wrote. It's very complicated, even if you did a good job. Internet grown up and the same laws apply here now.


08/21/2012 04:37 pm

What I really want to know from Matt is if/when we will get the Disavow Links Tool.

Reg Charie

08/21/2012 05:45 pm

@921872763cede050de27aff9d7b18448:disqus I still see the same amount of space been taken up by adsense. 3 ads. There is more on the right. If you have your browser open to accommodate their full layout you will see 3 top paid ads and 4 organic listings. You will know if you have your browser open to their specs as you will see the line "See your ad here" Is how much you pay not relevant? If you are finding the products in search, should you not be presented with pricing information?


08/22/2012 12:45 am

One way to really get to the bottom of these aspects of WHY Google is doing what it does with these search manipulations and to get the bottom of their attitude to organic vs paid is to become a shareholder (stockholder) and attend their AGM (Annual General Meeting) which in this country at least is the right of every shareholder small mom and pop to large corporates and ASK QUESTIONS at the meeting primed to these topics. In many AGM's you can table questions prior to the meeting - this would be bad news if the questions were seen to be a 'negative attack' but if clever enough you phrase the questions in a 'positive praise' manner like... "as a stockholder I would like to know if the strategy to favor paid search over organic search is going to help increase the value of my stock and furthermore how is this strategy progressing" .... or something similar. As a stockholder, of one single share or millions you are entitled to ask questions at the AGM and more importantly you are entitled to be answered honestly. With a bit of luck media representatives at the AGM would pick up on the question and help force the issue with Google in the weeks after via articles etc. At the end of the day the realization needs to sink in ... Google is NOT a search company (it once was) .... it is a mega ADVERTISING company .... advertising revenue and hence advertising strategies override everything else Google does ......... Spam control, Penguin, Panda, all that Matt Cutts department does and the others are essentially smokescreens and affect only those of us who are involved in SEO or are Webmasters ......... Searchers are not complaining!!

Ben Head

08/24/2012 01:47 pm

Hey keep this in mind, it's not Google's fault that a large number of SEO's here completely rely on it to make their money. They are a business and could shut down tomorrow if they so chose. Get a grip, Google owes you nothing, if you don't like it change industry or diversify your traffic sources.


08/24/2012 04:32 pm

SEO is not all about Matt Cutts and you should take what he says with a pinch of salt. To be honest you should keep aware of it on the perifery but not pay too much attention. The people who obsess over it are the ones not doing any research and testing themselves. You do that and you'll be very very rarely surprised about anything he says.


08/24/2012 05:59 pm

Harro, me name slim shady.


08/24/2012 06:04 pm

Harro, me name slim shady... google is bad?... me dance in joy if me site page 1? hypocritical a bit? every idiot thinks he's an SEO expert. These google engineers studied more than your life time, most of them have ph.d. degrees. Google doesnt pay them all that money to just lie to people.... once again, every idiot thinks he's an SEO expert.

Winson Yeung

08/27/2012 03:29 pm

agree on that. The best is to do real research comparing 2 different testing and find out the result instead of just taking matt words


08/28/2012 09:06 pm

find the troll - kill the troll...

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