Did Matt Cutts Just Call Himself A Link Spammer?

Nov 15, 2013 • 8:33 am | comments (72) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Burning Man LogoYesterday I reported that Google says using keyword rich user names in comments can be considered spammy and against Google's policies, potentially being a link scheme. Of course that caused for a lot of comments from the community but is it fair?

Remember GoogleGuy? GoogleGuy was the Googler who spent years helping webmasters under an unknown alias of GoogleGuy. He posted at WebmasterWorld a lot, but also a lot in comments and other areas. Later, we learned GoogleGuy was really Matt Cutts. What happened to GoogleGuy, well, he stop posting years ago.

His last post was in 2008 on this thread and has not posted since. You can see GoogleGuys profile over here.

Note, the name is kind of a keyword rich name for Google, the profile does link to google.com.

GoogleGuy Profile

Now we know GoogleGuy didn't go around with the intent of boosting Google.com's link profile, so the intent was not there.

But we also know that back in the day, it was common place to use aliases instead of real names.

So why go so strong against people who still are old school?

Is Matt calling himself, aka GoogleGuy, a link spammer?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld & Google+.

Update: To be clear, I don't think Matt Cutts is a link spammer. The purpose of this post is to convey most of link spam is about the intent of the link and anchor text. Matt's intent with GoogleGuy was not about spamming Google, obviously.

Previous story: Is The Tech Support Policy For Google AdWords Unfair?



11/15/2013 01:39 pm



11/15/2013 01:43 pm

And this is where the problem lies, Matt actively seeks to punish sites that did things the way things were done by everyone YEARS ago. Can everyone who has a problem with the way Google is now being run buy 1 can of SPAM a month and post it to Matts home address in protest? Clearly moaning on forums doesn’t do any good but if Matts home life is affected by SPAM like our home lives and income are affected by his SPAM fighting it seems like a fitting protest?? Imagian 1000’s of cans of spam turning up at your house ever month? He can then ship it off to some homesless shlter and do some good with it and hopefully get the message!!


11/15/2013 01:47 pm

someone buy www.spam4MattCutts.com and start a real protest that will build month on month, year on year, help feed some homeless people in the process and get heard by Google...at the very least piss them off for a change! If someone creates some quality signals on the site it could get a few NEWS backlinks and take off!!

Eric Ward

11/15/2013 02:04 pm

Here's another perspective. While he didn't post using his real name, there weren't any high value keywords in the handle "GoogleGuy". Even in an algorithm full of holes this handle would not help rank Google for search related keywords, any more than PepsiGuy would help Pepsi rank for the phrase "refreshing cola flavored beverage". Now, if Matt had used the handle "Best_Search_Engine", I'd call SPAM in a heartbeat. "GoogleGuy" is actually pretty tame and appropriate, especially back then, and of no algorithmic value. I vote Not Spam. :)

Chris Gedge

11/15/2013 02:07 pm


Barry Schwartz

11/15/2013 02:07 pm

Eric, I am just having fun.

Adam Heaton

11/15/2013 02:09 pm

Come on Barry, normally I agree with your theories, but this is ridiculous. GoogleGuy is a brilliant disguise as it provides an idea of who the person is, but that's about it. It isn't in anyway spammy, and since when was posting with brands spammy anyway? We're told to push brands, so even if the intention was to generate links to the website, there were no issues with the way it was done anyway.

Barry Schwartz

11/15/2013 02:11 pm

Did you read beyond the title? :)


11/15/2013 02:14 pm

I don't think Matt called himself a spammer, but I do think he needs to take his own advice when it comes to creating compelling content. Repeating the same stuff over and over, with basically just different words, does not add a whole lot of value to what is already available.


11/15/2013 02:19 pm

During that time such activities were never considered spam!!! so anyways Google Guy was Matt Cutts whatever he did that time cannot be considered spammy..those were hay-days in SEO..


11/15/2013 02:24 pm

Stop trying to make something out of nothing Barry. It's not even a keyword for crying out loud.


11/15/2013 02:25 pm

Did you read Adam's comment? :)

Barry Schwartz

11/15/2013 02:26 pm


Barry Schwartz

11/15/2013 02:27 pm

I received so many questions on the original post. I want to make a point. That not all keyword-like names should be considered spammy. In fact, it all goes back to intent. Plus, I wanted to have a fun pre-weekend post.

Harry Baklap

11/15/2013 02:33 pm

Did you both read Adams comment and beyond the title?

Eric Ward

11/15/2013 02:36 pm

I know:) I think it's Matt's twin brother Milburne who does the spamming for him.

Harry Baklap

11/15/2013 02:37 pm

Mate it's almost weekend don't take things too serious

Andrea Moro

11/15/2013 02:39 pm

That's a fair point ... but inevitably things changes, so I would expect Google and GoogleGuy to have factored this in their algorithm.

Eric Ward

11/15/2013 02:39 pm

"Intent". Bingo. Keno. Yahtzee.

Daniel Abromeit

11/15/2013 02:43 pm

"GoogleGuy" == Brand != Keyword-Rich. So its not a problem for the Link-Profile in this case. (But anchortexts like "SearchEngineGuy" are more interesting indeed.)

Adam Heaton

11/15/2013 02:47 pm

I certainly did, and please don't give me a reason to stop reading your blog as I tend to visit it on a daily basis as I cherish your opinion. I just don't really understand why the question is even necessary, clearly he isn't a spammer, and people who use anonymous names aren't either. However, I would never use an anonymous name such as "SEO company", which is clearly with SEO in mind. I appreciate it's a slow news day today, but I feel like this post was just intended for clicks.

Barry Schwartz

11/15/2013 02:48 pm

Not at all. It is intended to make a point. Intent is what matters here. I even spelled it out in my blog post. "Now we know GoogleGuy didn't go around with the intent of boosting Google.com's link profile, so the intent was not there.” But yes, the title of the article is meant to be clicked on. You can’t blame it, it is fun and clickable.


11/15/2013 02:50 pm

I really don't think it's about keywords at al: say if you have a high % of your backlinkprofile with a brandname that could be doubtfull to the quality of your website. You mean something in that area Barry?

Barry Schwartz

11/15/2013 02:51 pm

I mean, “intent"

Adam Heaton

11/15/2013 02:54 pm

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt this time as I think I would be lost in the SEO world without your unique posts. But in response to the question at the end of your blog post, no I don't think he is calling himself a link spammer.

Stuart David

11/15/2013 02:56 pm

I think you haven't followed the topic and the intended 'make fun of' point of the post


11/15/2013 02:58 pm


Stuart David

11/15/2013 03:00 pm

You evidently didn't read the actual post and back tracked. And since you're in such an honest space, allow me, you've come across extremely pompous.

Stuart David

11/15/2013 03:02 pm

Lesson: Don't have fun, people are sitting around waiting with guns.

Adam Heaton

11/15/2013 03:03 pm

I tend to not comment on Barry's posts very much unless I feel necessary, and this time round I felt it appropriate to do so. I did read the post to the end, and felt from past posts on this site that Barry would know the answer to the question instead of stirring the pot for "fun". There's enough rumours on the web about SEO, it's not like we need anymore.

Barry Schwartz

11/15/2013 03:03 pm

I see that. Ouch.

Stuart David

11/15/2013 03:07 pm

I'm not sure you do though, its very VERY regular that he will deliver a dry wit comment based on a previous thread of discussion where the conspiracy theory hats come out in force and shout all sorts of crap from the corners of India.

Duane McLennan

11/15/2013 03:11 pm

The biggest issue with everything everyone hates about Google is that when Matt says something it's taken to the letter and we should be looking at the spirit of what he's saying. The reality is that people will comment on things (on different domains) a few times a day / week at most and when you're dropping these spammy comment links all over the internet, you're spamming. So, he used GoogleGuy at Webmaster world a lot of times, well, that equals one time and in the true nature of forum discussions he was able to link out to things that others might link out to naturally. He also always refers to how things that appear out of control are likely just that, and spam. Would hiring someone to comment on followed blogs once a week with anchor text or brand terms hurt you, no, but nobody does it that way, it's always dozens or hundreds.

Barry Schwartz

11/15/2013 03:13 pm

Ah, you get me! Thank you! Makes me happy.

josh bachynski (SEO)

11/15/2013 03:22 pm

THIS IS DEAD WRONG AND DANGEROUS - don't think that just because it is brand that it is NOT also keyword rich !!!!!!!! if your brand is buy viagra, then BuyViagra is your screen name, but that as a link is still keyword rich when pointing to any page that sells viagra including buyviagra[dot]com

Durant Imboden

11/15/2013 03:26 pm

Sorry, Barry, but you're overreaching. Matt wasn't promoting anything when he was "GoogleGuy," and nobody with an ounce of sense would equate answering questions on Webmaster World as a Google spokesman with spamming. With this post, you aren't just feeding the usual trolls who show up--you're inviting them to dinner. :-)

Barry Schwartz

11/15/2013 03:27 pm

My title is over-reactive. My purpose of this post got people’s attention.

Chase Anderson

11/15/2013 03:31 pm

HAHA! Love it!

Eric Ward

11/15/2013 03:32 pm

Good grief this is HIGH-larious. a). I can't find Google. b). let me search for it at...Google?

Barry Schwartz

11/15/2013 03:33 pm

I had to make an update to my post, sadly.

Michael Martinez

11/15/2013 04:04 pm

Barry, you're really stretching credulity with this one (not to mention the fact that Matt also said he wasn't the only person who posted as GoogleGuy).

Barry Schwartz

11/15/2013 04:13 pm

And I thought this post would be a good idea. To drive something so obviously dumb into people's mind that they have to think about it and say, wait, what he is saying is obviously more.... Did you see all the comments on the other post. People don't get it. They need to think. How do we get people to think?


11/15/2013 04:18 pm

We're losing Barry.

Barry Schwartz

11/15/2013 04:22 pm

This post was for you.


11/15/2013 04:45 pm

Couple of dofollow links would be enough.

Barry Schwartz

11/15/2013 04:46 pm

name the anchor text and the url. ;-)


11/15/2013 04:51 pm

Hm ... Isn't it link building ? It would be against my principles ) Probably not ) url : wtff.com Any anchor text.

Burning Lee

11/15/2013 07:51 pm

Hi berry You use the Burning Man logo in your article about Matt the spammer , this Burning Man sign represent the exact opposite of what Google doing now and behaving in all those scare and evil tactics against so many people web masters and small business while the Burning Man is all about sharing giving and being a good human just wanted to point it out , Google dont deserve using this logo even if Larry and Sergey use to go there shabat shalom


11/15/2013 08:17 pm

every post i see of yours over the past few months makes me wanna kick a lawn gnome. tired of your higher than thou attitude, your supper irritating in every way and google could give a chit that you continue to jerk their chicken.

Michael Martinez

11/15/2013 08:59 pm

Well, your reply has made me think a little. :) That's a start.


11/15/2013 08:59 pm

Agreed! Pretty ironic, no?


11/16/2013 09:25 am

It sounds pretty interesting and we can apply these methods, you write so well thought out with a pretty scientific.


11/16/2013 10:18 am

Before penguin and other recent Google algorithm updates, most of marketing professionals use keyword rich words as comment name, but now everyone using their real name for protecting link spam, so I believe that matt cutt used brand name as blog comment name was not a link spam because it was old internet marketing tactics.

Ashish Ahuja

11/16/2013 10:23 am

Doesn't this open another avenue for negative seo

Snehal Joshi

11/16/2013 11:17 am

Prior to the recent penguin update and all the other preceding updates from Google, it was normal; in fact everyone used keywords as comment name. It is only now that everyone has started using his or her real name to protect link spamming. Definitely old internet marketing techniques, but this is something he left doing long back… But yeah your purpose was sure achieved.


11/16/2013 04:02 pm

Barry, I think that besides poking a little fun, you may have touched a nerve there. I think I'll change my handle to DaveKeysRealEstateSEOGuy just to annoy people ;-)


11/16/2013 04:23 pm

I would like to throw a cup of urine in Matt Cutts's face.

Donald Oconnor

11/16/2013 06:42 pm

Matt is up to the same ole same ole. Its the Google Dance and the Google Magic trick, do this not that book coming out soon. I know things change and other search engines change their algorithm, but please consistency is a good thing. Leave the search the way it is-- ppl are still finding what they want and clicking on it. I don't hear anyone complaining. ha! using keywords as profile names -- that just means ppl are going to do more of it and test the waters.


11/16/2013 06:43 pm

Who is berry?


11/16/2013 07:26 pm

durant is a pharisee


11/16/2013 07:30 pm

Well OTT . No need to lower yourself!

Gracious Store

11/17/2013 04:02 am

I think the truth about the so called Google's policy on using domain names as screen names in blog comments as be spammy is that Cutts Matts is obsessed with spammers that he cannot him self explain what spamming is. So he is so confused to the point that everyone who leaves comment on blog post is a spammer. and engaged in link scheme He is so confused that he fails to realize that it is easier for a spammers to use fake names as their screen names than it is for them to use their domain names. It is useless trying to make Cutts understand that this so called policy he is trying to push forward is simply dumb and he will invite the wrath of of SEO and webmasters on him self, because people will startto use curse names on Cutts as their screen names, after all every name must not be an English name. For instance I can use my screen name to Cuttsotoro Ochagbagbugi or Nkita tagimatts. Any of these can be any one's screen name you can have no idea what any of screen names means and you have no way to prove is not a person's real name because every one that leaves comment in blogs do not all have English names. So my advice to Cutts Matts is not to try to push ahead with that policy because you will see and hear nwgyi((::))

Para Friv

11/17/2013 09:41 am

Thank you very much!@@That's a fair point ... but inevitably things changes, so I would expect Google and GoogleGuy to have factored this in their algorithm


11/17/2013 10:38 am

The way I see it, he means that if you use you name as the link itself to your site, and it contain keywords, then it may count as spamming. As Googleguy he did not link using his name (as far as I can tell.) I have seen cases where people do exactly what he is warning of. I admin a webcomic directory and used a backlink program to see where the links are comming from. A large number are coming from someone I using the site's name as their user name in forums and linking to the directory using their name. None of the other admins know who it is, or will admit to knowing.

Geek Support

11/17/2013 11:40 am

Yes and no I guess, I think if you see this happening at least you can do something about it. Although I don't really see what difference it makes these days to link to you website as your name or domain name. Seeing as Anchor text doesn't carry the weight it use to.

Ashish Ahuja

11/17/2013 06:42 pm

I mean since google is actively treating anchor text heavy comments as link spamming, doesn't it open another door for somebody to do negative seo to your site by creating all those links

Gregory Smith

11/18/2013 05:25 am

who gives a shit?

Gregory Smith

11/18/2013 05:27 am

Bout time, eh?! lol

Emma North

11/18/2013 04:02 pm

The fact that he hasn't posted under that name since 2008 says something. Times have changed, algorithms have changed and so have intentions. Although as Google's aim was obviously never to build links to google.com, it isn't really comparable. It was merely an alias, which would be no problem for anyone to do if they weren't including links!


11/18/2013 06:25 pm

surely, it only one episode from series. Problem what google not have idea what it really doing now. Almost any link is now bad for them and lead to site penalization. But google not need to delete own links & submit reconsideration requests. may be only for fun.

Geek Support

11/19/2013 10:43 am

I probably didn't word my reply very well. I guess it depends on how Google deals with the links, if they penalize your website for the links, then it is a big risk and there are already plenty of opportunities for negative SEO. In reality I hope they just ignore the link/anchor text.

Spook SEO

01/02/2014 02:12 am

Hello Barry, Your blog post title is so catchy! You got me there dude! Well, there’s no way that the Great Matt Cutts would turn against Google but he definitely knows how to link spam. The only way to defeat his enemy is to know them by heart. That’s the way he defeats link spammers.

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