Why You Won't Get An Email Response From Google's Matt Cutts

Feb 4, 2013 • 8:37 am | comments (11) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Other Google Topics

Google ShieldOn Friday, Matt Cutts returned to the internet after taking a month off. He posted on his blog, what he learned from it.

A HackerNews thread picked it up and asked some questions like how can Matt unplug and depend on figuring out what is going on in the SEO space from just his colleagues at Google? How come Googlers in general don't respond to user emails? Stuff like that.

So Matt went on the defensive, trying to explain the concept of scaling. Here is his responses:

I went ahead and updated the blog post to explain, but I'll include what I wrote here too. Sorry if I didn't explain that clearly. I still see what people are discussing on SEO blogs and on the Google webmaster forum. I know the most recent trends in how blackhats try to spam Google--that's my primary job, after all. I look through the questions and comments that people send me on Twitter. When I put out a call for webmaster video questions, I use Google Moderator so people can vote up questions that interest them. I keep an eye on what flavors of spam snake oil are being marketing to newbies on various forums ("I know Google pulled apart my last link network, but now try my Social Rank Tout Suite product! It will automate 100% of all of your link building!"). And lots of people at Google keep an eye open themselves and alert me if they see issues.

So I feel like I have a pretty good feel for the pulse of what people are talking about; it's just that I lack the time to have one-on-one conversations with every person that emails me.


I've tried auto-replies. People get even more offended by that. Here's someone that posted after getting an auto-reply in 2007. He was angry because he thought the battle against paid links was useless, and wanted me to email him back to justify our efforts on paid links. His conclusion? "When I met up with Matt at SES San Jose, he seemed like a cool guy, but I guess this [getting an auto-reply] proves my positive-assumptions wrong."

Don't get me wrong. I like Jonathan (the author of the blog) and stopped by his blog to leave a comment to answer his question.

But if you asked a neutral third party, "Which is better? To spend your time working on new algorithms for paid links? To write blog posts or make videos about paid links? Or to reply to emails justifying working on paid links?" I think the the neutral party would put replying to emails about paid links at the bottom of the priority list.

And the amount of email at Google is pretty epic. Even after trying to reduce my email load through all the conventional methods like unsubscribing from newsletters, my mail storage is over 50 gigabytes.

So there may not be a good conventional answer to the email issue for me. I really don't want to be rude by not responding to emails, but I also believe I should also be working on the biggest-impact things I can.

I honestly don't respond to many emails that ask for my direct response. I just don't have the time, I wish I did. But most of them are directed at Google anyway, and I am not Google, so why should I respond. ;-)

That being said, that is Matt's rationale for why he wants to spend less time on one-on-one with webmasters and more time with one-on-many with webmasters. Honestly, I can't disagree.

Forum discussion at HackerNews.

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02/04/2013 01:45 pm

How many times do we have to hear how busy Matt Cutts is? Maybe he should hire a junior?

Gil Reich

02/04/2013 02:13 pm

The question of what's the best use of Matt Cutts' time is a distraction from the much bigger question. Should Google be more responsive to individual webmasters' private questions. Yes, some Googlers already do a lot on Google Webmaster Forums and elsewhere. And Matt has certainly done a lot. But Google is a very, very profitable company whose tiniest decisions can and do wipe smaller companies out. And don't say good companies shouldn't be overly dependent on SEO because for many companies that's just not reality. I just read a Steven Levy interview where Larry Page insisted that "everything scales." And indeed, customer service scales if we're talking about the paying advertisers who get some TLC from the AdWords team. But if you merely provide inventory for Google's search engine and advertising program and a Google change intentionally or inadvertently wiped out your business, Google has a scaling problem. Let Matt Cutts work on whatever best fits his skills and Google's needs. The question is whether or not Google should provide more individual help for web publishers.

Jim Christian

02/04/2013 04:45 pm

I just emailed Barack Obama and Tom Cruise last week.... They didn't get back to me either. Weird how all these people don't get back to us.


02/04/2013 05:58 pm

That must have something to do with you or your approach. I recieve my responses from Obama in the form of needlework pillows. Classy, hand made, and with just enough fringes.

Jim Christian

02/04/2013 08:40 pm

Well I did ask them for a link first...

Dario Petkovic

02/04/2013 10:24 pm

Matt tries to answer our questions to the best of his ability. You will never however get a definite answer but he's great at making G look like this friendly and fair entity that doesn't care about money only 'user experience'

Karl J. Gephart

02/04/2013 11:37 pm

Right, it's a matter of whether Google really cares to put human resources behind Matt Cutts. Unless they perceive you as the likes of Danny Sullivan, Rand Fishkin, or other fame, forget getting a response.

Sanket Patel

02/05/2013 06:30 am

Well, It's the matter of quality. That how you can approach through mails?


02/05/2013 12:26 pm

This proves how much Google cares about webmasters. They invest one guy to deal with zillions of webmasters. Guess that if they would really care it wouldn't cost them too much to set up a few Matt clones.

Manuel Garcia

02/05/2013 01:42 pm

Maybe it's time to make a few clones. :)

Josef Holm

02/05/2013 07:39 pm

I can only imagine what kind of emails Matt gets and probably wouldn't answer many of them too if I were him ;)

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