Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Matt Cutts

I spoke yesterday at the excellent Distilled link building conference in London and will be again in a week. While my session covered a range of white-hat to black-hat techniques in social media link building, it was certainly the darker side of marketing that drew the most attention as the conference it self in general focussed on white hat techniques.

At the end of the session, someone joked if I was afraid if Matt Cutts was in the audience, and I brushed it off saying “Im not afraid of Matt Cutts” and I think it came across as a bit braggadocios.

The truth is that no one needs to be afraid of Matt Cutts. His goal is not to scare people into using particular tactics – in fact, his primary agenda is to protect the integrity of google search results and assist webmasters to that end.

While I made it clear, or at least hope so, that you should never use black hat strategies to promote your primary brand site, if you choose to do so on any site, it is not a reason to fear the spam team. If you feel fear, you are doing it wrong. Be an adult and make your risk calculations carefully. If you are going to buy links, figure out how much it will cost you to have them removed in the future, how much you think it is likely you will be penalized, and how much money you would be out if you lost rankings for 4 months. These are all logical calculations your company should be making in every marketing venture, and SEO is no different.

If you do resort to gray or black hat tactics, don’t fear the spam team, just realize that if they catch you, you are going to have to clean up the mess you created completely… Each and every dirty link… before you get reconsidered. And the process can take months.

No one should fear Matt Cutts, but every SEO should respect him.

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  1. Ross Tavendale
    Mar 19, 2011

    Hi Russ,

    Great talk on Friday. I was very impressed at the techniques that were being shown with reddit. Just wondering if there is any chance of getting those links that were in the presentation?

    Cheers Mate,


  2. @rodneycullen
    Mar 21, 2011

    Hey Russ,

    Great chat! was glad I made the effort to fly over from Spain for all the amazing speakers. Don’t think I’ve ever been witnessed so many people simultaneously take a sharp intake of breath myself included!

    Hoping some of your tips should prove useful, although I can appreciate that there a quite a few others that are not easily replicable without the ninja skills demonstrated last friday.

    Would be great if you could send me the (removed) link via twitter (@rodneycullen or email (added my address in the Mail field of this post). Thanks a heap!

    If you’re ever interested in taking a peek into some of the metrics behind a few adult sites (Alexa top 500) hit me up and I’d be glad to show you around some of the stuff we’re currently working on.

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