Google's Matt Cutts: It's Silly To Think We Penalize Vivint Because It Competes With Nest

May 30, 2014 • 8:17 am | comments (32) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

vivint google penaltyPando wrote an article named After Google bought Nest, it removed one of the company’s biggest competitors from search results showing how Vivint was removed from Google shortly after Google acquired Nest.

Matt Cutts, Google's head of search spam called this "silly," in a Hacker News thread. In fact, he said the reason they were removed was because they participated in guest blog link spamming. Matt said, Google penalized them in November 2013, well before they acquired Nest in January 2014.

Here is Matt's response:

It's a shame that Pando's inquiry didn't make it to me, because the suggestion that Google took action on because it was somehow related to Nest is silly. As part of a crackdown on a spammy blog posting network, we took action on with hundreds of other sites at the same time that were attempting to spam search results.

We took action on because it was spamming with low-quality or spam articles like...[removed, see hacker news for the links]

and a bunch more links, not to mention 25,000+ links from a site with a paid relationship where the links should have been nofollowed.

When we took webspam action, we alerted Vivint via a notice in Webmaster Tools about unnatural links to their site. And when Vivint had done sufficient work to clean up the spammy links, we granted their reconsideration request. This had nothing whatsoever to do with Nest. The webspam team caught Vivint spamming. We held them (along with many other sites using the same spammy guest post network) accountable until they cleaned the spam up. That's all.

Matt added:

In this case, we started dissecting this particular spammy guest blog posting network in November of 2013, and Google didn't acquire of Nest until January of 2014. So Vivint was link spamming (and was caught by the webspam team for spamming) before Google even acquired Nest.

You can then see Matt and the author of the Pando arguing on Twitter:


Forum discussion at Hacker News & Twitter.

Previous story: Google: Even Old But Active Manual Actions Will Show In Google Webmaster Tools


Nathan Grimm

05/30/2014 03:47 pm

"More transparent" isn't the right question. Google's level of responsibility keeps rising as they compete in more verticals. They mustn't be "more transparent" than other search engines, they must provide the information needed for consumers to trust them. In this case, they were as transparent as normal, which isn't saying much. Since this isa penalty against a competitor Google has more of an incentive to penalize the site. They will need to provide a lot more data than normal to convince people that the penalty was justified and comparable to other penalties for the same violations. And no, it's not silly for people to point out Google may have ulterior motives.


05/30/2014 03:54 pm

@Matt... sure silly to think it, but it happened. Your reason is just an excuse (you don't punish viacom for its bad links and its black hat link wheel that got it to #1 for the highest competition keyword there is. Fair is fair... punish viacom you coward). Do you see that your punishment and policing policies are driving your brand into the ground? Despite what you may think Matt more people hate Google today than yesterday. I guess that's a job well done at Google.


05/30/2014 04:08 pm

Cutts is really just a well paid corporate shill. I love how he says that Google is more transparent than other major search engines. I wonder if he smiled as he typed that since there are no other major search engines due to Google's monopoly. I also love how Nest has some of the exact same links that apparently got Vivint in trouble. Only be fair when it is convenient!


05/30/2014 04:13 pm

"In fact, he said the reason they were removed was because they participated in guest blog link spamming. Matt said, Google penalized them in November 2013, well before they acquired Nest in January 2014." Are we to believe that Google had no intention of pursuing the purchase of Nest just two months before it was announced? Most large acquisitions takes months to negotiate. If Google applied penalties fairly, it would penalize YouTube. This property has so many spam promoted videos its crazy. I rarely, and I mean rarely, ever see any competing video results displayed in Google - any videos I see are nearly all from YouTube. Blogspot is another heavily spammed Google property, which operates with impunity. After Google invested $50 million in, they too were pushed to the top of the organic results for many real estate auction related queries. They also participate in Adwords too, with above the fold listings, which drives up the cost for others advertising in the same industry (HubZu, HomeSearch, etc.) that did not get a $50 million Adwords voucher themselves. I personally have seen enough evidence that leads me to believe, without question, that there is a significant amount of bias in Google's search results. Although it's easy for Google to publicly state that there are links spam penalties against competitors of Google owned/invested in properties, the larger issue is that Google should not be permitted to use their dominant search product to bolster their positions in other industries. Doing so is terrible for free markets and leads to a continued expansion of market domination. I think we've all seen the consequences of Google dominance in that many small businesses can rarely be found in Google's search results.


05/30/2014 04:18 pm

i think it cutts lie again. we know about competition, but right now it about google buggy algorithms which preffer only adwords & only extremely popular sites (often promoted by spam). So, everything they do is to kill small business.


05/30/2014 04:26 pm

vivid was caught. Oh, matt cutts. You better tell us where is no such links from articles. It called negative seo, and your team doing extremely bad job in preventing this type of attacks. Only sites like wikipedia protected from that type of attacks. Also, you can tell caught if you can confirm what it owner of that site placed this links himself. Otherwise it lie to acquit your penalties..


05/30/2014 04:28 pm

most easy example - youtube.

Alexander Hemedinger

05/30/2014 04:28 pm

What other major search engine, Matt? :)

Durant Imboden

05/30/2014 04:37 pm

Let me get this straight: Some people here think the Google antispam team should have given Vivent a pass because someone else in the company might have been thinking of buying Nest?


05/30/2014 04:44 pm

Any website that competes with a company that Google Ventures ( has invested in is doomed. They are going to take you down. This is a fact jack. Just look what they have done to sites that compete with Retailmenot. Search any " brand name + coupon" Retailmenot is number one. Matt Cutts is garbage. lie, lie, lie some more.


05/30/2014 05:20 pm

If a small business is killed solely because they lost some Google rankings, then it wasn't a sound business in the first place. If you lose your shirt because you based your entire business model on extremely volatile sources of revenue ,such as Google, it's your own fault for getting your business killed. Not Google's. People need to take accountability for their own irresponsible business decisions, and stop blaming Google because they lost their income.


05/30/2014 05:24 pm

No... Google should enforce the rules evenly... because when they get selective its time for antitrust oversight.


05/30/2014 05:34 pm

For Matt Cutts to claim it couldn't possibly have happened this way because the penalty came in November and the purchase of Nest was in January is absurd. It's less than two months, and I'd have to think that you don't just buy Nest on a whim. It's quite likely this had been bandied about for much more than two months (with lawyers and all), hence the likelihood that rumors about Nest were out and about within Google at the time of the Vivint action.

Durant Imboden

05/30/2014 05:37 pm

So you're suggesting that Google was picking on Vivint by penalizing it along with hundreds of other sites? Are you telling us that those hundreds of other sites were penalized just to create a smokescreen?


05/30/2014 05:41 pm

How do you know that hundreds of other sites actually were punished? Other than Matt saying so. Is it possible he's simply saying that to pad his own argument here?

Durant Imboden

05/30/2014 05:48 pm

It seems to me that Google should be either totally opaque (no WMT messages about penalties, for example) or far more transparent. Let's look at what full transparency might entail: 1) Google would inform a penalized site owner of the penalty in Webmaster Tools. 2) The site's penalty status also would be available to users. This would have two benefits: Businesses might spam less if they knew their penalties would be made public, and interested consumers would be able to either (a) avoid businesses with SEO penalties or (b) patronize such businesses to show their support. 3) The penalized site owner would be given an opportunity to post a response on the "site status" page (using a verifiable identify) such as "We've never spammed anyone, we're the victims of negative SEO, and Google hates small businesses." This would be a triple win: - Google would be able to jusfify its actions; - Site owners would be able to respond; - Consumers would be able to make their own judgments about whether to do business with sites that have penalized for questionable SEO behavior.

Durant Imboden

05/30/2014 05:50 pm

You can believe him or not, as you choose. Maybe it would be helpful if he'd publish a list of all the penalized sites so we could ask the owners if they had penalties.


05/30/2014 06:06 pm

Maybe Google should penalize Nest for having the same backlinks...


05/30/2014 06:07 pm

Thats exactly right... When things are announced and when things were known are completely different points in time.

Nathan Grimm

05/30/2014 06:17 pm

You mean this RetailMeNot?


05/30/2014 06:35 pm

Yes, Look at what has happened to other coupon websites. A temp 33% drop for RetailMeNot is for show only. Search for yourself. "brand name + coupon" This is how the money is made. G has already killed the competition over the last 2 years. Dropping long tail keywords will not hurt them at ALL. When they say The Reports “Greatly Overstate” Our Organic Search Impact. They are telling the TRUTH!


05/30/2014 06:42 pm

I agree. That's a great comment.

Truth seeker

05/31/2014 09:57 am

How the hell does Matt cutts get paid todo pr so badly? No company buys another company on the drop of a hat, there will have been a minimum of 6 months of discussions and legal wrangling! Matt is perhaps doing negative pr because he sure as shit doesn't help googles pr with these poorly thought out public comments!

Faisal Jamal

05/31/2014 12:40 pm

Yes Durant Imboden this is exactly what Google should needs to do.... Should give a chance to site owners to avoid negative SEO and respond to any actions before get penalized

Ashley Stanf

05/31/2014 06:43 pm

Oh please ... Vivint had a spammy link profile, but Nest link profile was "oh so perfect". I really f*ing doubt it ...


06/01/2014 05:50 pm

Silly to think? Absolutely not. it's actually naturally to think. Is it true? Most likely not.

Ben Guest

06/01/2014 07:23 pm

Ok, we might as well give up and start joining the monopoly:

Olga Andrienko

06/02/2014 08:24 am

Vivint has to rethink their SEO strategy and fix mistakes in the first place, their backlink profile is indeed spammy. But the decrease in the rankings was so dramatic that anyone could've thought there was more to that than just spammy link profile.


06/02/2014 02:56 pm

It would make Google responsible for their actions, and we all know that Google does not want any responsibility - just more money. Don't expect Google to put themselves in a box where they must answer to themselves. They would rather answer to happy shareholders.

Daryl Cygler

06/04/2014 02:43 pm

They also have some pretty serious technical issues going on with the site, so i wouldn't be surprised if there was an element of that coming into the visibility metrics.

Rick Lomas

07/03/2014 10:13 pm

I just got my case study about this published on Link Research Tools: There is more to it than you might think. See


07/06/2014 02:57 pm

Did Google purchase Coupon Cabin? They received a boost after Panda 4.0

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