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Google Spokesman Matt Cutts
Who Is Matt Cutts?
Spend enough time around the search engine optimization (SEO) crowd, the search engine marketing (SEM) crowd, or just the search engine news and debate crowd, and you will eventually come across the name, Matt Cutts.
Just who is Matt Cutts and why does it matter so much what he says about Google and its vaunted search algorithm?
Google Search Rankings Secrecy
Google is famously secretive about its search engine ranking algorithm. While many analysts continue to pick apart a 10-year old thesis published by Google founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the reality is that no one outside of Google really knows exactly how the all important search engine results ranking algorithm works exactly.
When you consider that Google has no less than three multi-person, full-time, teams working from various angles to improve, update, extend, and otherwise change the ranking formula, it becomes obvious that whatever Google did start with in 1998, whatever it has today is much different.
Google's official policy of "mums the word" when it comes to how the search rankings works serves several useful function, not the least of which are fending off copycats (Microsoft), preventing "gaming" the algorithm, and avoiding lawsuits, complaints, and arguments about the results themselves. During the Bush Administration, a Google Bomb successfully deposited the President's bio page as the number one search result for the phrase "miserable failure." Google's absolute secrecy allowed it to avoid discussing how such a thing could happen (it's a secret), whether or not they condoned it (you can't check), and even whether or not there was anything that could be done to change it.
Matt Cutts Google Spokesman Unofficially
All of this secrecy has its share of drawbacks. The most difficult is the inability to communicate with the outside world about what goes on inside of Google, or what changes have been made.
If the company were to start making official pronouncements on certain things, then it would open itself up to claims that is was trying to manipulate the Internet and websites by selectively releasing data beneficial to the company, or detrimental to its competitors.
The solution for Google is Matt Cutts.
Matt Cutts is senior-level employee at Google, but importantly, not a member of either the Board of Directors or the executive management team. This helps avoid any potential issues regarding SEC regulations as well as providing a distance from the "official" policies of Google But, that is not all.
Cutts also does not issue statements as a Google employee. Rather, he has a personal blog in which he occasionally posts (personally, not officially) about what Google is doing, or has done, or wants to do. Some of these posts serve as warnings, some as clarifications, and some, likely, as propaganda.
The right person might be able to cut through all of this personally, unofficially, separation, but Cutts is careful to not only blog about Google's comings and goings, but also about truly personal details such as what he is reading, his cat, and so on.
Put it altogether and you have a tough armor around Google's ability to distance itself from any and all statements made by Cutts if necessary.
Why Listen to Matt Cutts?
With all of the layers of deniability built into the pseudo-spokesman role, it might seem that there could be a problem with Cutts's credibility. That would be the case, except that Cutts has a very specific role inside of Google.
Matt Cutts is head of the Webspam Team at Google. This group is responsible for making sure that "junk" websites don't end up at the top of the search rankings for long. Just think back to the days before Google when webpages were ranked based upon how many times they used a word and the webmasters who shamelessly flooded their pages with repeated words in order to rank higher. Cutts's team would have been responsible for coming up with an algorithm that discounted a word that was repeated more than three times in a row, for example.
As head of the webspam unit, Cutts is an "insider" in the overall ranking algorithm. More importantly, he is the guy who heads up the team that tells you what you can't do, or more specifically, what is penalized by Google as cheating. As such, you ignore him at your own risk.
You can find the Matt Cutts blog with, you guessed it, a simple Google search for Matt Cutts. If you are serious about SEO, SERPs, or just building worthwhile websites, it is a worthwhile read.