What Does Matt Cutts’ Replacement as Head of Webspam Mean?

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matt cutts leaves

Previous Head of Webspam at Google Matt Cutts has been on leave since last July and it was speculated that the 10-year veteran of the position wasn’t going to return.

Cutts has been the mouthpiece for Google on SEO and algorithm issues for Webmasters, so since July, the announcements have been coming to us via the Google blog, forums, YouTube channel, and conferences as opposed to coming from one specific person.

Google had not come forward with anyone taking Cutts’ place — until now.

Unfortunately, the new employee holding the Head of Google Webspam title has not been officially announced. But Google did tell Search Engine Land that the new titleholder is only going to take over the job of managing Webspam — not Cutts’ other job as general spokesperson.

According to the Search Engine Land article:

“It was never the case that the head of Web spam should also be a general spokesperson on listing issues. That was just a natural synergy between Cutts being both knowledgeable about Google’s listing processes in general and his personal interest in taking that role.”

Despite the fact that someone new has taken over, it looks as though how we get our Google information and announcements as well as where we ask questions and find answers — the Google blogs, Google forums, YouTube channel, and conferences — is going to stay the same as it’s been since July in light of Cutts’ absence.

Based on the quote from Search Engine Land, it looks like Google prefers it this way and never really planned to have Cutts take on the spokesperson role the way he did. Perhaps Google is going back to their original plan all along, which is to not give Webmasters someone specific to turn to with questions or in times of trouble, but rather use all of the resources Google has set out to help us.

So What is Cutts’ Current Role with the Company?

Although someone new may be the Head of Webspam, this doesn’t mean that Matt Cutts leaves Google entirely. Cutts is still on leave with the company, so we don’t actually know how his role will change in the future.

Barry Schwartz of MarketingLand suspects we will hear within a month or two the official word from Google on Cutts’ future with the company, and that seems like a pretty good estimate.

A Look Back at Matt Cutts Videos and Articles

Below are several articles that feature Cutts’ advice about certain SEO topics. To date, Cutts has recorded over 500 videos answering Webmasters’ questions, so it can be a little bit overwhelming to try and sort through which ones matter most to you.

Use some of these articles to do that sifting for you and keep some of Cutts’ advice fresh in your mind.

Old Matt Cutts Videos that Still Hold True Today

Five years later, there are quite a few videos that Cutts published that still hold true even today. These are the lessons that continue to be repeated over and over again, but Google has remained firm on many subjects such as rich content, load times, rankings for big brands and how small brands should compete, CMS system moves, and more.

Title Tags, Myths and Website Size

The best part about this Matt Cutts video was hearing about four conspiracy theories that Cutts wants to end. These include issues about paying for AdWords affecting your organic rankings, Google changing algorithms so people will pay more in AdWords, black hat fads, SEO tools and more.

Matt Cutts on Why Social Signals Shouldn’t Be Considered for SEO

This has been an ongoing debate amongst Webmasters, so this article gives us the perspective from Cutts. Although this may be changing in the future, this was a huge announcement at the time and is technically still the most recent thing we’ve heard from Google on the topic. Cutts talks about two major reasons Google doesn’t use social signals as ranking factors here.

Matt Cutts Tells Us to Stop Guest Blogging, Backlash Forces Him to Specify

In probably one of the most influential and talked-about quotes from any Google spokesperson ever, Cutts wrote a blog post on his own blog that said “stick a fork in it, guest blogging is done.” This became a huge topic of discussion amongst Webmasters, much of which was negative feedback, which ultimately forced Cutts to have to backtrack and specify what he meant.

Your Turn

What do you think about Matt Cutts’ official leave?

Image: Matt Cutts, Google+

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9 Reactions
  1. Great article.

    Call me paranoid, but I never believed half the stuff Cutt’s said.

    Google does everything for a specific reason-including having Cutt’s “suggest” things that may or may not have been true regarding SEO.

    My advice: Write great articles. Produce great videos.

    Great = useful.

    The Franchise King®

  2. Same job, different person. Google are always going to have a “head of spam” guy to stop the little guys from trying to game the system, so it’s not bad news.

    The good thing that he did was force webmasters like myself to adapt to change, and seek out other sources of traffic.

    He is a good and entertaining speaker though, so I’ll still be following him and waiting for his new content. I wonder what he will talk about now 🙂

  3. I agree with Joel that most of the stuff he said was misleading or downright inaccurate. Almost like he was a human honeypot trying to tempt spammers into taking his recommendations so he could identify them.

    What surprises me more is how Google seems to be actively trying to avoid having any employees become spokesperson/evangelist for any Google products. It keeps the brand faceless and impersonal in my opinion. I love that BingAds has John Gagnon as their evangelist. It gives them a face and he’s a great guy (I’ve met him in person several times). Just my $0.02

  4. This is one of those things that makes you wonder what initially happened. Personally I miss Matt Cutts and his videos. I know that what Matt shared wasn’t always entirely accurate but that’s the nature of the beast when you have so many abusing the system. It was nice when the Google machine had Matt to add a personable face to the wizard behind the curtain.

    Matt Cutts is still posting and responding to comments on his personal blog, Twitter and Google+. As you would expect he is not discussing anything about his situation at Google. But he hasn’t just dropped off the face of the earth either. When learning what to do and not do I usually learn more from a person watching what they do on their own site.

    I’ll be waiting for your update about Matt Cutts, thanks John

  5. Extremely confusing article. The title says: “Matt Cutts Leaves Google” — yet the body of the article says stuff like: “Although someone new may be the Head of Webspam, this doesn’t mean that Matt Cutts leaves Google entirely.” This is really pathetic journalism. How disgusting. And confusing!

    • Shawn Hessinger

      Hi Nameer,
      We think the article was actually pretty clear, but we left out a few words in the title in an effort to keep the title from being too wordy and that made the title unclear.

      To be clear, Matt Cutts left as head of webspam. Thanks for pointing that out. We’ve edited the title to reflect that fact.

      Shawn Hessinger,
      Executive Editor
      Small Business Trends

  6. Clearly there is a conflict of interest to have the head of spam being the Google spokesperson for webmasters. It may be that he has given out information that Google did not want shared or before it really was integrated into Google.
    My guess is, he has been give the choice of doing either role, but not both. Taking a year off with out even a temp replacement suggests there are sufficient people to take over.
    the fact that a new head of spam is being lined up (un-named) suggests Matt hs the choice of a public role, another department or to move on.

    Either way, Matt is no longer part of the web spam team and I am sure the new figures name will be released when Matt makes his decision.

  7. google is just a search engine provider at its core and yet it has completely taken over almost everything we do with regard to websites. It dictates everything about how we must act according to its rules and regulations when it comes to our rightful place on the internet. Who appointed them the world wide internet gestapo? Because that’s what they have become! I’m sick to death of having to cow-tow to the demands they impose on website owners as if the internet is theirs to control. It isn’t. It belongs to the people of the world, not bloody Google and it’s constant big brother machinations to control websites. Who are they to decide what is acceptable and what isn’t? Since when were they appointed the almighty dictators of the internet.

    Just when you think you’ve got your website fairly and squarely ranked and you’ve jumped through all the hoops to get there at considerable cost in terms of time, effort and money, they get on their high horse and decide, for the whole world without even asking us if we mind, things aren’t good enough and they have to change. Our websites lose rank, the traffic dries up and you have to start all over again. Why do we pay heed?

    Look at all the stuff in this article. All the things you have to do just to curry google favour. It’s all based on scurrying around like an obedient slave desperate to please its master. google has become out internet master and we its slaves.

    We should be dictating to google what we want from them instead of having to follow their every decision like sheep. We pay their wages. Without us they go bankrupt and yet we all bend over and assume the position every time they feel like changing their minds. Why?

    They don’t own the internet yet they act like they do and we all swallow everything they throw at us without question.

    I, for one, am tired of being dictated to by a company that doesn’t have the right to do so. The origin of the internet was to a have free, open source flow of information available to the global community and, somehow, google has taken it over and monopolised it and now we’re stuck with them telling us all what to do.

    As far as I’m concerned, **** you google!!!

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