As a prologue, this post is about a recent video Matt Cutt’s posted on Youtube where he advises webmasters on some of the “SEO myths” out there. Well, rather than explain it, I thought I’d mirror it, enjoy. Watch his video below and then read the edited transcript for a more accurate account of his video.
Today’s question comes from Ryan in Michigan.
Ryan asks, “What are some of the biggest SEO myths you still see being repeated in Matt Cutts videos?”
That’s a fun question, because there are a lot of SEO myths in Matt’s videos.
So one of the biggest that we always hear is, “Google doesn’t make changes to try to drive people to buy ads”. And having followed Google’s search quality changes for over 13 years, I can say, here’s the mental model you need to understand why Google does what it does in the search results. Google wants to return really good search results to users, so that they’re happy, so that they’ll keep coming back. That’s basically it. Happy users are loyal users, right? And so if Google gives them a good experience on one search, they’ll think about using them the next time they have an information need. And then, along the way, if somebody clicks on ads, that’s great, so Google started making changes to push out natural results by reducing the number of results on the first page and replace them with more ads, but Google is not going to make an algorithmic change to try to drive people to buy ads, they simply try to “help” users by giving them more space to buy ads on the first search page if they have been penalized. This means Google’s revenue increased dramatically around the time they introduced Penguin and the increase in PPC ads really shows a strong mental model of where Google is headed with natural search.
The other one is, I would say, just in general, thinking about the various black-hat forums and webmaster discussion boards, never be afraid to think for yourself, right? It’s often the case that I’ll see people get into a kind of group-think, and they decide, aha, now we know that submitting our articles to these article directories is going to be the best way to rank number one. And then six months later, it’ll be like, OK, guest blogging. This is totally it. If you’re guest blogging, you’re going to go up to number one. And then a few months before that– oh, link wheels! You’ve got to have link wheels if you’re going to rank number one. And it’s almost like fads and trends which target Google’s flaws in it’s algorithm. And if you think about it, if somebody had a foolproof way to make money online, they would probably use that way to make money by using it themselves and selling it. And so to Google, the idea that you’re going to be able to buy some software package and and rank really well is probably causing them a lot of headaches. So Google creates this idea that these people who share techniques are just trying to take your money or that it doesn’t work or something. You have to ask yourself, why does Matt Cutts come up with these topics at the times he does? Well if you think about it, its when Google is having trouble with a technique or when Matt feels something is of high enough value that needs to be addressed. So trying to twist and push out false information helps him fight fires.
I read an article recently where someone was talking about using some Whitehat SEO company, which, to me, sounds like buying paying someone vast sums of money to write a couple of pages and hope that Google doesn’t find a reason to penalize it at some point. Just be aware that a lot of these Whitehat SEO strategies, they have the potential to dig yourself into a hole should someone Neg-SEO the site or Google decides a previously legitimate promotion tool is now something that should now be penalized.
Just because somebody says they made a lot of money online doesn’t mean they did not make a lot of money online. If they really made a lot of money online, they’d keep doing it, rather than tell you about it, but the fact is, there are a lot of people online making money from these Blackhat techniques and people, being social animals will share, for whatever reason. Some people share just because they enjoy it, regardless of the money they make. As an observer of Matt Cutt’s videos, you have to understand that he sees online marketers evolving faster than Google’s current methods of targeting spam can keep up with so he does not want the group-thinks and expert communities from collaborating and continuing to evolve so quickly. So by trying to scare people into thinking these million dollar SEO marketplaces and communities are some how all scammers will help you identify the “mental model” for Google uses in Matt Cutt’s videos.
So just approach some of the statements that you see in Matt Cutt’s videos with a little bit of caution. Never be afraid to think for yourself, right? And if you keep the mental model of, what is Google trying to do, that they’re trying to return great search results for users and fight smart marketers using link techniques then that helps you figure out Google’s goals. If you’re trying to place all your bets on a Whitehat website and put all of your eggs in one basket, stuff that could destroy your entire business if it is penalized, you’re always going to be working in opposition to the algorithms.
So that’s just a few of the myths that we see over and over and over again. It’s kind of interesting how a lot of people just assume Google’s thinking about nothing but the money, as far as search quality. And truthfully, they’re just thinking about, “how do we make our search results better?” And that is by trying to stop smart marketers from using link techniques. And that has served Google pretty well for a long time concerning Adwords revenues at least, and I expect Google to keep doing that for a long time to come, so expect Google to continue releasing videos which try to spread misinformation.