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Google's Webmaster Outreach Changed Hands From Matt Cutts

     
1:13 pm on Nov 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Matt Cutts was, for many years, Google's one-man webmaster outreach.
Back in July this year he announced a few months leave. [webmasterworld.com]

Well, those "few" months are now over, and there speculation as to whether he's going to return, or not, either as the webmaster outreach, or head of webspam team.

Interestingly, Matt has updated his blog post indicating that he's going to extend the leave into 2015.
Added: When I went on leave, I wanted to see how webspam would go without me. Iíve been talking to people on both the algorithmic and manual webspam teams during my leave, and theyíve been doing a top-notch job. So Iím planning on extending my leave into 2015.Matt Cutts extends his leave. [mattcutts.com]


I'm not convinced we'll see Matt back in the same way with the same webmaster outreach we all got to know so well. Others have been providing webmaster help and assistance, and it seems that a switch from one main contact is one of the key aspects of change.

Are we getting good feedback from google? Does google even see the feedback as important any longer?

Folks such as John Mueller, Pierre Far, and many others have been feeding back information particularly over the last few months. Is it now a team thing?
1:35 pm on Nov 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It has been a team communication effort for a few years and I don't care at all. When Google speaks, I pay more attention to what they don't say.

If you rely on Google to tell you how to profit in Google you are going to have a bad day. This is like asking the IRS or HM Revenue for tips on optimizing your tax returns. It isn't in their best interest to help your business make money. If you want to profit online you need to research and educate yourself.
1:29 pm on Nov 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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When Google speaks, I pay more attention to what they don't say.


But you still pay attention, and that's the key.

I dunno, maybe Duane Forrester is looking.

(ork ork)
5:16 pm on Nov 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I'm not particularly concerned with whatever personal decisions Matt may have made.

What's more concerning is that this situation may be a signal from Google that they are now even less interested in the webmaster community.

Leaving a team without a leader for an extended period of time sends an odd message. There doesn't seem to be an "interim" leader either.

I suppose we can just watch and see if the things we are typically interested in start to lose funding and support. (webmaster centric hangouts, help videos, enhancements to WMT, communication of changes, etc).

It may just be that they don't want the webspam team to lead as many webmaster facing discussions. Perhaps that moves more of the "public face" stuff over to whatever part of the organization Mueller is in.

edit: Both JohnM and PierreF have titles of "Webmaster Trends Analyst". Does that mean they are both on Matt's team, or some other part of Google?
5:35 pm on Nov 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Answering my own question...found a (not very detailed) org chart on Matt's blog:

[mattcutts.com...]

So, Matt is the leader of "webspam", and neither John or Pierre are on the webspam team.

They are close organizationally, as Matt reports to Amit Singhal, and the group that John/Pierre are in reports either directly, or through one other leader, up to Amit.
5:55 pm on Nov 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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As far as I can tell, it's the outreach that's switched. John M has been relatively high profile for a while now, but it was matt that built the outreach program. Perhaps it's google wanting to move away from a one-man outreach, to a team-based system. Matt taking a sabbatical is just good timing to make that switch.

The key for us webmasters is getting accurate information: It doesn't really matter from whom that comes.
7:26 pm on Nov 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Not just Google either, as mentioned above, Bing gave Duane the boot too. I haven't heard about any replacements there either.

It's looking like in the grand scheme of search engine things, webmasters aren't even on the radar.
10:02 pm on Nov 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I think both John Mueller and Pierre Far are members of Google Webmaster Central team which is part of Google search quality group.

And I think both Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal report to Udi Manber, head of the search quality group.
10:55 pm on Nov 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I lasted about 15mins. Anything good after that?
[youtube.com...]
11:36 pm on Nov 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I lasted about 15mins. Anything good after that?
[youtube.com...]
Well, it's within what you watched, but at around 9:40, he's asked:
"Will you go back in the same role at Google...?"

He doesn't give a 100% clear "NO", but the hint is pretty strong:
"It's not clear that having me as a lightning rod for unhappy blackhat SEOs or something is the best use of anybody's time compared to working on other things"

Then he goes into an explanation of how many people move around into different parts of Google.

Sounds like he's done with webspam to me.
12:36 am on Nov 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Geeble made themselves the lightning rod with their fake transparency.

Penguin 3.0 is an example of this. The roll out is complete, but not? It's an algo update, but not? Right.

What in the flying puck is going on with these guys.

Also, not everyone who is unhappy with McGrooble is blackhat.
1:52 am on Nov 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like he's done with webspam to me.

I'm not sure if he would even be needed in the webspam capacity anymore. Much of Google's search results return corporate listings for goods and services. No amount of quality links or good content seems to overcome this from what I've seen. Therefore, if it becomes impossible to compete against big corps, spam will have little value to the many small operators.
3:51 am on Nov 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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So if we complain we practice BH? Maybe there is a minor issue they need to address to get the mess straightened out. From what I see the BH are pretty happy with the results.
3:37 pm on Nov 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I've heard Matt is starting his own SEO Consultancy Business next year.
3:50 pm on Nov 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I've heard Matt is starting his own SEO Consultancy Business next year.


That's funny, imagine if he used all the (1000's) of pics that seo-pros have taken with him over the years as endorsements of his skills! I wonder how quick all the seo-pros out there would be scrambling to take their "I know MC" pics off their sites...
5:50 pm on Nov 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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No inside information then? Hmmmm:-)
7:53 pm on Nov 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Heh I bet he's got one of the iron tightest NDAs ever created.
9:48 pm on Nov 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Instead of an "outreach" that consists of the sporadic uncoordinated piecemeal release of information at the whim of various individuals, through tweets and hangouts, why couldn't Google set up some kind of official notification system for posting announcements of algorithmic rollouts and updates, changes in guidelines, etc?

Or would that make too much sense?
11:43 pm on Nov 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Or would that make too much sense?

My money is on this sequence of events...

- Somebody, high up in the chain, decided that they've spent enough money on both webspam fighting and webmaster relations
- Matt got the notice that he needed to move to a new area
- They'll start shifting more resources out of both areas (webspam / webmaster )
- The frequency and quality of communication will slide further, or stop altogether and be replaced by static, unchanging "Webmaster FAQ" pages, and perhaps more self-service stuff in WMT.
3:18 am on Nov 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I for one, would be glad to see him gone from the public spotlight -- I mean seriously, all the "we took down another link network" sh*t was so amateur it's not even funny...

It's like when someone celebrates every time they score a basket, touchdown, whatever -- Think about a couple of the greatest in sports for a minute. Did Rice celebrate every time he scored a touchdown or caught a pass? Did Jordan celebrate every time he scored or dunked on someone?

No they didn't.

Yes, sometimes, once in a while, they might have, but those times were few and far between -- They were professional about things and did their job like professionals. They acted like they've been there and done that before and they didn't need to "flaunt" everything they did, but the way MC "bragged about sh*t" when he was simply doing his job was absolutely and totally unprofessional IMO.
3:52 am on Nov 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I guess what I'm saying is: the people who are truly great at what they do don't need to "celebrate" everything they do, and until he grows up a bit and doesn't need to "celebrate" doing his job I'm glad he's on leave or sabbatical or whatever they decide to call it.
12:10 pm on Nov 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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How does one +1 the last four posts?

I agree with them all.
2:14 am on Nov 9, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Glad someone does -- I would think given the number of lives and livelihoods Google can/does impact, "How can I address this more professionally?", would be much more well-received and respected than, "How 'snarky' should I be?"

I miss GoogleGuy [yes, I know he was MC], but I don't miss MC a bit -- The change in his persona between GG and MC is really shocking to me. GG was informative, respectful, empathetic, personable, etc. and above all, professional. MC is not even close to the same.

IDK why things changed as much as they did between who/how he was then compared to now, but he was *totally* different as GoogleGuy, IMO, and it's too bad, regardless of the reason behind the change, we lost that from him.
5:56 am on Nov 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

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When Matt Cutts was GoogleGuy, he was trying to outreach to webmasters. At this point, he has been acting as a spokesperson and providing informational videos while the internet has become a fairly hostile/highly competitive environment.

He doesn't decide/define the SERPs and should have stepped away several years ago.
6:49 am on Nov 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

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He's done in my opinion and will move onto something else. The change has been happening for years so it will just be a bigger one next year. Webmasters really don't matter to Google any more or to any search company. Evolution. They got what they wanted, what they needed and tossed up aside for scraps. Many of us are still used to provide the information that is then taken and served up under the disguise of another. Now the consumer can hardly take the mask off to see who really provided the answer to them.
4:28 pm on Nov 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

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He doesn't decide/define the SERPs and should have stepped away several years ago.


Very true, his GG persona was completely at odds with SG (Spam Guy) and, in reality, needed to be to fight it, the problem is/was though I don't feel he really knew to the full extent the problems that Google had created for themselves with spam.

I'm pretty sure that going from discoursing with mostly amiable and eager webmasters here to the full-on out and out war with spammers and blackhatters I reckon I'd go a bit crazy ... heck I'm defending him!
7:06 pm on Nov 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Well, better the devil you know...
10:31 pm on Nov 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I can see why he needed a break, he was starting to lose it, look at this video he made...

[youtu.be...]

... he definitely needed a holiday.
10:43 pm on Nov 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I actually think he seems like a pretty amicable guy in a crappy position. I wouldn't want his job for sure.

There's a lot of anger towards both Google and Matt Cutts, heck, I've felt pretty dark towards him at times, but realise that it's really not his fault personally.
11:06 pm on Nov 18, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Matt Cutts didn't start out at Google as an antispam guy or as a Webmaster-outreach guy. I think his title is "Distinguished Engineer," and he may well feel that he's ready for bigger and better things--whether at Google, with a new challenge somewhere else, or in some kind of philanthropic effort a la Bill Gates.
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