Cutts Talks SEO ‘Myths,’ Says To Avoid ‘Group Think’

By: Chris Crum - April 17, 2014

In the latest “Webmaster Help” video, Matt Cutts talks about SEO “myths”. He responds to this question:

What are some of the biggest SEO Myths you see still being repeated (either at conferences, or in blogs, etc.)?

There are a lot of them, he says.

“One of the biggest, that we always hear,” he says, “is if you buy ads, you’ll rank higher on Google, and then there’s an opposing conspiracy theory, which is, if you don’t buy ads, you’ll rank better on Google, and we sort of feel like we should get those two conspiracy camps together, and let them fight it all out, and then whoever emerges from one room, we can just debunk that one conspiracy theory. There’s a related conspiracy theory or myth, which is that Google makes its changes to try to drive people to buy ads, and having worked in the search quality group, and working at Google for over thirteen years, I can say, here’s the mental model you need to understand why Google does what it does in the search results. We want 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, and so if we give them a good experience on one search, they’ll think about using us the next time they have an information need, and then along the way, if somebody clicks on ads, that’s great, but we’re not gonna make an algorithmic change to try to drive people to buy ads. If you buy ads, it’s not going to algorithmically help your ranking in any way, and likewise it’s not going to hurt your ranking if you buy ads.”

Google reported its quarterly earnings yesterday with a 21% revenue increase on the company’s own sites (like its search engine) year-over-year. Paid clicks were up 26% during that time.

Cutts continues with another “myth”.

“I would say, just in general, thinking about the various black hat forums and webmaster discussion boards, never be afraid to think for yourself. It’s often the case that I’ll see people get into kind of a ‘group think,’ and they decide, ‘Ah ha! 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, they’ll be like, ‘OK, guest blogging! This is totally it. If you’re guest blogging, you’re gonna go up to number one,’ and a few months before that, ‘Oh, link wheels. You gotta have link wheels if you’re gonna rank number one,’ and it’s almost like fad.”

To be fair, some of this “group think” stuff has worked for some sites in the past until Google changed its algorithm to stop them from working .

He suggests that if somebody really had a “foolproof” way to make money online, they’d probably use it to make money rather than putting it in an e-book or tool, and selling it to people.

“The idea that you’re going to be able to buy some software package, and solve every single problem you’ve ever had is probably a little bit of a bad idea,” he says.

“It’s kind of interesting how a lot of people just assume Google’s thinking about nothing but the money as far as our search quality, and truthfully, we’re just thinking about how do we make our search results better,” he says.

Google’s total revenue for the quarter was up 19% year-over-year, which still wasn’t enough to meet investors’ expectations.

Image via YouTube

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • BobP

    Oh come on. If you want to be a better search try finding what people actually search for. For example, one wants to find the Possum Festival and enters the words, possum festival in the Google search box. 15 pages later Google has yet to find http://www.wausaupossumfestival.com/ and has found 15 pages of ads, articles and casual mentions of same.

    Whether man or machine, something at Google checks websites, there should be a visual check and I find it hard to believe there isn’t a plus check mark for a Google ad on site because we know there is a penalty for too many Google ads and Google ads above the fold to the point where Google stops serving some of the ads.

  • http://gastricbandfrance.co.uk/ geofflord

    mmmm Strange how nobody seems to believe you Matt !! or is it just a coincidence that “Google” profits increase exponentially with every algorithm change !!

  • http://www.rechargelife.org Brian Baulch

    If you don’t like what Matt has to invaluably say! May it be time you to go to the competition

    • james morton

      I think you should maybe come from the room you must be locked in & have a look at the real world

      • http://www.rechargelife.org Brian Baulch

        Look in the mirror first faceless man

        • james morton

          I am surprised we can see yours at all with it being lodged so far up Googles behind. Google is a business to make money. The search results are worse than they have ever been. It is weird how more people now click ads than organic results. Call me what you like, yet this is clearly down to poor organic results. Google want advertisers pushing the auction prices up on their adword campaigns. check the figures yourself. the price per click only ever goes up regardless of quality score, CTR, blounce rate, landing page etc etc etc

  • Peter Maguire

    I created and maintain the most comprehensive listing of world jazz clubs on the Internet. http://www.jazz-clubs-worldwide.com For sixteen years – from the start of Google my site was Page One and usually Number One. Then Google trashed my ranking. Why ? MY site remains the best source of information about the global jazz clubs scene – used by jazz fans, musicians, promoters, agents et al. But Google apparently now considers my site to be of little or no value. Nothing comparable has replaced my site in the Page One slot. Great search results ? Please explain to me why for sixteen years my site was considered to be of high value – now? Well you tell me.

    • topazg

      FWIW, I’ve just searched for “Jazz clubs around the world” and “global jazz clubs” and your site ranks #1 in Google on both – what exactly do you mean by your ranking being trashed?

    • Vrs Real Esatate Agents

      because of all the money your making off your ads….look at my page and you will see a good example of no ads my friend….http://www.vrsrealestateagents.com/web/AR475111/ListingSearch/load_saved_search/?ss_id=5275252&nav_page_id=6598440

      • Guest

        “All the money your making off your ads” if only this were true. I am a web project developer. Also a jazz musician. My jazz club site is a labour of love with more than seventeen years and tens of thousands of hours of work devoted to the project. The very modest amount of money I was earning on Adsense just about covered the server costs. Now it doesn’t even cover a fraction of this expense. Not sure if you are familiar with the global jazz scene ? I can assure you it is to road to riches. Unlike the real estate business.

      • Guest

        All the money your making off your ads” if only this were true. I am a
        web project developer working in this area since 1996 involoved with major and minor projects . I am also a jazz musician. My jazz club site is a
        labour of love with more than seventeen years and tens of thousands of
        hours of work devoted to the project. The very modest amount of money I
        was earning on Adsense just about covered the server costs. Now it
        doesn’t even cover a fraction of this expense. Not sure if you are
        familiar with the global jazz scene ? I can assure you that it is not the road to
        riches. Unlike the real estate business.

      • Peter Maguire

        All the money your making off your ads” if only this were true. I am a
        web project developer working in this area since 1996 involved with
        major and minor projects . I am also a jazz musician. My jazz club site
        is a labour of love with more than seventeen years and tens of thousands
        of hours of work devoted to the project. The very modest amount of
        money I was earning on Adsense just about covered the server costs. Now
        it doesn’t even cover a fraction of this expense. Not sure if you are
        familiar with the global jazz scene ? I can assure you that it is not
        the road to riches. Unlike the real estate business perhaps. Frankly I
        really am not sure what coordinates you are using as a comparison ?
        Looking at your site and my project there seems to be little or no
        synergy

  • G Rupert

    Bah! My vision is narrow. The word insidious comes to mind. Everything Google does is to make money for itself. Who benefits from the paid ads at the top of search results? Why are sites included in the results that have absolutely nothing to do with the search? Why does Google need all the permissions they ask for to sign up for apps, for “joining”….? BobP’s comments are bang on. I’m going back to my Black Berry and disable google search

  • http://www.netbuilder.com.my/home/SEO+Malaysia/q?m=article&article_id=24 Danny Cheng

    Google’s not thinking of money all the time? Really?. LOL (nothing wrong with that btw, Google is a business after all)

  • lauralouise90

    Rumours and rumours… there will always be people who believe certain things like buying ads can influence rankings.. I prefer the facts and seeing the rankings change because of something you’ve done directly. Stick to the facts and the legit SEO sites and you can’t go wrong. Laura @ Ricemedia SEO