Okay so this post is really about Matt Cutts, but to be fair, it’s not personal. As an SEO/Compettive Webmaster, I’ve been working with Google for at least as long as Matt has, and we are all growed up now. Matt’s likely millions richer than he was when we started. But is he any smarter? I just read this post on Matt Cutt’s bog.
Years ago I got an email from Google letting me know, curtly and directly, that my corporation was banned from using Google.com. Not just me, but anyone on my NAT’ted network was blocked. And it wasn’t simply consequential – the Googler knew that it was a network block for us, and upon my inquiry, admitted that yes, he knew that and it was to be so. You see, someone had run WebPosition a few times more than Google liked, and he banned us from using Google because of that. Eventually he stated (very directly, as a neighborhood bully would) that if we wanted to be allowed to use Google.com again, we would have to promise never to use that webposition or similar programs again. We did, of course. A few days later (without Google.com) and we were unblocked. A few days more and we had our proxies in place for WebPosition to continue it’s work undetected.
Matt knows this story of mine, and once commented that Google is less obnoxious than it was back then. Back then Google was young and obviously bold. Too bold in my opinion. Based solely on the in-your-face authoritarian statements made by the Googler at the time, we pursued a proxy strategy. Looking back, it could have been very different.
Today, Matt’s post was again in-your-face authoritarian. Matt is likely millions richer than he was when he started way back when I tussled with Google for the first time, but I’m not seeing as much “smarts” as I would expect to see. In Matt’s post, he speaks of V7N’s advertising system, and says things like :
Suffice it to say, if “undetectable to search engines” is listed as one of the major selling points of a particular link scheme, it probably violates our quality guidelines and the guidelines of other major search engines.
Now that might be okay for street talk, but in traditional business, them’s fightin’ words. Matt Cutts, through inference, just slammed V7N’s commercial product. Where is the evidence? Where is the factual basis for this statement? Oprah got into trouble for her “irresponsible” statements about beef, and was saved really by some very expensive legal maneuvers and a PR effort that wisely raised the cost of pursuit for the meat industry. In the real world, you simply can’t exercise your political might for commercial gain, irresponsibly, or you may have to pay a price.
Matt also says things like this:
The “undetectable” claim brought up fond memories of another time someone claimed to me that their spam was undetectable.
Again, through what appears to be irresponsible inference, Matt just called V7N’s contextual advertising network “spam”. Read it again… he suggests that this (V7N) is “another time” dealing with spam.
As I recall, Claria/Gator/180Whatever successfully used the legal system to defend against libelous references to Spyware and Malware. And they had such a right, based on commercial law. If it’s not true, and you say it is, it’s potentially slanderous. Matt Cutt’s is still bolder than I suspect he should be. But hey, I am not a lawyer.
Now just in case the reader of Matt’s bog was unclear about Matt’s authoritarian demeanor, he relates a story from the past that he says is similar to this V7N incident. In that story, Matt relates his communications back then on the topic of overly zealous SEO efforts:
Pages like *** appear to have garbage doorways with text about random SCSI things. Visiting those pages in Internet Explorer just redirects to your homepage. Using doorways + sneaky redirects is a serious violation of Google’s spam guidelines. In order to relist you (and it will take about 7-8 weeks), we need to have clear evidence that all these pages are gone, and that we won’t see these sort of tricks on your domain again.
Note Matt’s use of the undefinable word “sneaky” which imparts intent upon the webmaster (sans any evidence to support such a claim). Also note the final statement “we need to have clear evidence…that we won’t see these sort of tricks on your domain again“. In other words, “beg me.” Again, them’s fightin’ words, Mr. Cutts. Are you sure you wants to treat the pubic this way?
I think the accusatory tone is a problem. Matt re-emphasizes by summarizing the way it works according to Google:
“remove the spam and find a way to assure us it won’t happen again”
After this IMHO too-casual post, Matt added some of his opinion about how much “fun” he has dealing with the people he calls spammers. He relates:
I laughed so hard, I nearly bust a gut. His old system was undetectable, but he was worried he might be caught, so he was working on a spiffy new scheme which was really *really* undetectable. But only 99% bulletproof. As you might be able to guess, I was easily able to find all of the fellow’s “undetectable” doorway pages and all of his clients with a single Google query — I didn’t even have to use any of my internal tools. I still chuckle when I hear the word “undetectable.” One thing I do like about working on webspam at Google is that you collect really good stories. I don’t always tell the funny ones, but I share this one to make a point. The moral of this story is that “undetectable” spam sometimes stands out a lot more than you’d think.
Aside from the fact that I feel compelled to inform Matt that the expression is really “bust a nut” and not “bust a gut”, Matt seems to be making fun of this person behind his back. He is exposing an unpublished email which was sent to Matt in error, and mocking it. Matt adds his own editorial color to help it better support his mission of writing a fun, spammer-mocking post, where he says “I like to imagine that they said something like… ” (which, according to my understanding of the law, falls once again into the area of irresponsible behavior and perhaps, negligence). Matt also removes the so-called spammer SEOs name, saying “name trimmed so as not to reveal the identity of the SEO” but which also means the SEO can’t defend himself or clarify what Matt may have mis-represented here.
Is that gutsy, or cowardly? I suggest it is more foolish than either of the former.
Now in Las Vegas Matt assured me that “they” don’t take actions against web sites that disparage Google or Matt Cutts. Really? Human behavior is an interesting thing. I know more than a few professional counselors whom I am pretty sure would side with me in thinking that the bully behavior exhibited here in one context is likely to carry over to other contexts.
It is my opinion that V7N’s commercial product was irreparably harmed by Matt Cutt’s blog post. It is also my opinion that high-profile SEOs should not put their names on non-SEO endeavors, because Google acts like a Bully, and appears poised to act irresponsibly. Why provoke the bully if you are not prepared to pull a Ralphie and settle the score for good?
Some people retire because they get bored;things got stale. Some retire in order to exit at the top of their game. Some retire because they cannot continue to work. Some retire to explore other aspects of life. All good reasons to retire.