Matt Cutts: Here’s How To Expose Your Competitors’ Black Hat SEO Practices

    May 27, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Google’s Matt Cutts put out a Webmaster Help video discussing how to alert Google when your competitors are engaging in webspam and black hat SEO techniques. The video was in response to the following user-submitted question:

White hat search marketers read and follow Google Guidelines. What should they tell clients whose competitors use black hat techniques (such as using doorway pages) and whom continue to rank as a result of those techniques?

Do you you think Google does a good job catching webspam? Let us know in the comments.

“So first and foremost, I would say do a spam report, because if you’re violating Google’s guidelines in terms of cloaking or sneaky JavaScript redirects, buying links, doorway pages, keyword stuffing, all those kinds of things, we do want to know about it,” he says. “So you can do a spam report. That’s private. You can also stop by Google’s Webmaster forum, and that’s more public, but you can do a spam report there. You can sort of say, hey, I saw this content. It seems like it’s ranking higher than it should be ranking. Here’s a real business, and it’s being outranked by this spammer…those kinds of things.”

He notes that are both Google employees and “super users” who keep an eye on the forum, and can alert Google about issues.

“The other thing that I would say is if you look at the history of which businesses have done well over time, you’ll find the sorts of sites and the sorts of businesses that are built to stand the test of time,” says Cutts. “If someone is using a technique that is a gimmick or something that’s like the SEO fad of the day, that’s a little less likely to really work well a few years from now. So a lot of the times, you’ll see people just chasing after, ‘OK, I’m going to use guest books’, or iI’m going to use link wheels’ or whatever. And then they find, ‘Oh, that stopped working as well.’ And sometimes it’s because of broad algorithmic changes like Panda. Sometimes it’s because of specific web spam targeted algorithms.”

I’m sure you’ve heard of Penguin.

He references the JC Penney and Overstock.com incidents, in which Google took manual action. For some reason, he didn’t bring up the Google Chrome incident.

This is actually a pretty timely video from Cutts, as another big paid linking controversy was uncovered by Josh Davis (which Cutts acknowledged on Twitter). Google ended up de-indexing the SEO firm involved in that.

“So my short answer is go ahead and do a spam report,” Cutts continues. “You can also report it in the forums. But it’s definitely the case that if you’re taking those higher risks, that can come back and bite you. And that can have a material impact.”

He’s not joking about that. Overstock blamed Google for “an ugly year” when its revenue plummeted. Even Google’s own Chrome penalty led to some questions about the browser’s market share.

Cutts notes that Google is also happy to get feedback at conferences, on Twitter, online, blogs, forums, “if you’re seeing sites that are prospering and are using black hat techniques.”

“Now, it’s possible that they have some low-quality links, and there are some links that people aren’t aware of that we see that are actually high quality,” Cutts notes. “But we’re happy to get spam reports. We’re happy to dig into them. And then we’ll try to find either new algorithms to try to rank the things more appropriately in the future. Or we’re certainly willing to take manual action on spam if it’s egregious or if it violates our guidelines. We have a manual web spam team that is willing to respond to those spam reports.”

According to Cutts, you can even submit spam reports using Google Docs. Here’s a conversation he had on Twitter recently:

@mattcutts Can we send a link to a Google Docs spreadsheet when reporting spam? #penguin 1 day ago via web ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

After Google launched the Penguin update, Cutts tweeted the following about post-Penguin spam reports:

To report post-Penguin spam, fill out https://t.co/di4RpizN and add “penguin” in the details. We’re reading feedback. 5 days ago via web ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

Shortly thereafter, he tweeted:

@Penguin_Spam yup yup, we’ve read/processed almost all of them. A few recent ones left. 10 minutes ago via web ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

I’m sure plenty more reports have rolled into Google since then, but it does seem like they process them fairly quickly.

Do you think Google has done a good job at cleaning up webspam? Share your thoughts.

  • gina

    Is it just me? Or is anyone else getting sick of Matt Cutts and his STUPID videos? Enough already!!!

    • https://plus.google.com/115194199565322841506/about John S. Britsios

      Gina I am getting too. Why the hell doesn’t he give an advise how to defend yourself from “Negative SEO” which is the biggest problem now?

    • Jerret

      Yep. He’s been an empty suit for years. Just a tool of the machine.

    • http://futurepocket.com Hasan Khan

      I couldn’t agree more — since the Penguin update, negative SEO has become that much easier. Google has absolutely no way to combat that; my website was a victim of negative SEO too and it hasn’t come back up in the rankings since then. It’s stupid too because whoever did it did it so smart to make it look like that I was responsible for the links.

  • http://www.google-is-evil.xxx Lester

    But just keep this in mind while you are playing RAT;
    1)Google isn’t paying you to do their work for them
    2)As long as you do this free work for them they won’t be forced to fix their own problems with linking
    3)Google is undermining one of the basics we were all taught in elementary school – don’t be a tattle-tail
    4)At the very least hold out for a Google Whistle before selling out for your very own Karma payment
    5)What has Google done for you lately-seriously what

    • John

      very well said…once one start tattle-tail all will be doing it… webmasters stay strong and together!

    • Jeff

      Very well said – I sure won’t be assisting Google in this effort after the games played with my Adwords account!

  • BC

    Good luck with that. Now millions of people will overflow Google’s email with useless BS reports. It will be war. Be careful people; you are opening yourself for lawsuits.

    Matt Cutts is the Baghdad Bob of Google. Don’t take his advice too seriously. He is just trying to scare you.

  • http://ms1.gotdns.com jonny rocket

    huh? people still use google?

    • http://www.LAokay.com Steve G

      I know, I’ve switched to Bing. I’d move my website’s site search over to Bing if it weren’t for Google site search being free and Bing wanting money for theirs.

      • http://mathatube.com denzil

        Steve, becaefull what you wish for. If Bing become the numbered search engine, you might have to pay justto be index

        • http://www.LAokay.com Steve G

          If Bing became the #1 search engine, my traffic would skyrocket as my sites do very well in Bing rankings, and just so so in Google. I wouldn’t mind paying for site search from Bing at that point as I’d have the revenue to justify it. Who knows, Bing might even give it away for free at that point, just like Google does.

  • http://notordinaryblogger.com Okto

    I think this is going to be unfair if google accept spam reports. They should know it without reports though

    • http://www.mediafortemarketing.com Lisa Williams

      Google has accepted spam reports for a long time.

    • http://www.LAokay.com Steve G

      The problem with your statement is that there are ways to try and hide deceptive link scheming from Google which are nearly impossible for Google to send it’s bots out and notice. Mostly because the bots see one thing and the public sees another. You’d think that Google would simply not announce who it is through using the regular ip addresses and user-agents that everybody expects and that would tell them if the site was trying to serve up different versions of their pages, one to bots and one to the public. I mean sure they would send out their normal bots, but they should have some that hide who they are just to see if a publisher is trying to hide something.

  • https://www.comantra.net/site/quick_help_pages/1 comantra

    Thank you for your post. Now I want to know that can I implement Black Hat SEO for online reputation management of a website.

  • http://www.mediafortemarketing.com Lisa Williams

    I appreciate Matt’s response to this question and his feedback is also outlined in Google guidelines. We submitted a very detailed spam report last year and I’m hopeful that the spam will be dealt with according to guidelines. In the meantime, my question is, why do techniques which are violations established 10 years ago still work? It seems the answer is that it just takes time. It may not be an answer I like, but it’s a fair one.

  • http://www.casperscreens.com/ Charles

    But why to tell Google about black hat techniques of competitors? Is Google not eligible himself to identify those?

  • Roger M

    Google is your competitor

    Post Panda/Penguin if you run “top quality” website google is your major competitor, becuase google wants to send your prospective visitors to adwords advertisers.

    Recently we are seeing desperation in their actions google employees are obviously using black hat tactics, keep your eyes open and you can easily spot them. This will lead to their downfall.

    • Sabina

      We’ve become too dependant on Google… Unfourtunaly… Completely agree with you.

      • Roger M

        Nope, google is absolutely dependent on free content created by webmasters 😉

  • Howard

    Yea, let google do their own work. Its great to know a competitor can now submit a bullsh*it spam report now. I see google going down in flames soon..

    And BTW, I have never paid to be in Bings search, not sure where you are coming up with that, but they have organic and paid search too. I dont use their paid search.

    • Sabina


  • Sabina

    Google does not do a good job. I am trying to be objective because I am doing 120% to offer my visitors good quality and exactly what they need. However, for some reason Google favorites sites that are stuffed with keywords (even though they publicly say this is against their rules), which do not offer nearly as much unique and relevant information. So what do you do? I guess look for other search engines who are more objective then Google. And I certinaly hope more and more people will go back to Yahoo and other SEs.

  • janedd

    So we can send spammy back links to our competitors and then report them to Google and they will penalize them? SWEET!!!

  • Josh

    Matt Cutts, you sir are full of sh*t
    So what, all our competitors just have to:
    1. Spam our website
    2. Report it to Google
    3. Profit??

    What a load of crap..

  • Matt

    “Search should be about tattle tales” – Matt Cutts, Google 2012

  • seoONe

    so how to remove inbounds [spam] links to my site?


  • http://www.lots0cash.com lots0

    I wonder how much longer Google will ignore the Negative SEO problems they have created.

    Spammy sites everywhere because the good sites have been knocked off the SERP by Negative SEO spammers…

    You can go to freelancer and get your competitors sites penalized for spammy links for under $200…

  • WebbedOut

    Hmm, I was surprised nobody made the comment that seemed so obvious. It is kind of eerily reminiscent of our repeated sad history; the Communist Days and/or Nazi era of SS and KGB, neighbor telling on neighbor. Salem and the witch hunts. Has google become BIG BROTHER? Do we really want to go there and open Pandora’s box?

  • http://ultimatemarketingstrategies.net Peter Sundstrom

    I don’t know how many reports Google has received, but I’m guessing it must be pretty substantial. I find it hard to believe they could process all those spam complaints unless they had a very large review team.

  • http://www.healthieus.com/ Katherine McClendon

    I doubt it also. With thousands or even millions of requests pouring in every day, it’s hard to believe they would attend to it manually. Or, perhaps they can categorized it again using machine.

  • http://www.xprocreative.com Brandon

    Penguin was a major failure… only Google could claim it was a success.

  • ken

    old news, bla, bla, bla, lack of common sense, as a legit webmaster whos content been scraped and stolen ive been doing this type of stuff for years, good info for the clueless though

  • http://www.autorecar.com autorecar

    Whatever google do, Me and autorecar.com always have a big expectation for google…I think google had some reason to do that…let see what happen then

  • http://www.we24support.com seo man

    Hi Matt cutts,
    I want know about black seo and know how to remove Negative Complaint.

    seo man

  • http://www.replica-sunglasses.co.uk/mens-sunglasses/ Lisa

    Its google’s strategy i feel that it would be like White hat seos vs negative seo. If google is serious about its search then google should have given seo’s more flexibility to rank better. This is like closed doors with very little options.

  • Matt Cunts

    THis is hilarious!! Matt Cunts do you know your a pretty bad liar? Seriously this garbage you speak work well for retards at digital point but anyone with a half brain knows that this is a crock of shit. Brainwash all you want but you aint got me fooled Cunts

  • http://espertoseo.com emanuele tolomei

    I’ve got a Penguin penalized site http://www.laseduzione.net
    I’ve made corrections about an iframe above the fold, but the situation isn’t changed
    What can i do? I’ve just compiled form to reconsideration and Penguin form bookmarked by Cutts on Twitter
    Thank u!

  • http://www.seonorthamerica.com Tom Aikins

    I find it harder and harder to take Matt seriously. This whole charade that Google has built up over the years about showing the best and most relevant content is nothing but bull***t. And now they want us to start ratting each other out. Sounds like they’re getting desperate to me.

  • http://how2earnonline.org/ Mark

    I thought penguin was the “webspam update” if it was so successful why do Google need people to complete this form?

  • http://become-alpha-as-fuck.blogspot.com/ Alex

    Do you really think google will check all the millions of spam reports? Don’t think so. This is just bullsh*t.

  • http://www.duckduckgo.com Patricia

    it reminds me of a certain era of history, when people were reporting other people (ww2 anybody ? ).

    Ok so now google has revealed it’s real face.

    here is the penguin algorithm :

    if (seo == true ) then penalize because we want you to buy adwords !

    if ( site stops buying adwords ) then rank it down ! ( happened to us, we lost 8 pages after stopping our non profitable adword campain )

  • Steve

    Isn’t the fact you’ve quoted Matt Cutts’ video blog verbatim the same as spam? Why not put up a notice saying your quoting the text for those who might not have access to his blog?

  • http://dollarstips.com Krishna

    Big drama, lots of noises and fury signifying nothing, and Google will be the ultimate gainer, collecting profits from spoils. Report and tell them what people are doing. Maybe the next Algorithm will hit you, because their next algorithm will take care of what you report now.

  • Susie

    Matt, you are full of s h i t

  • http://dollarstips.com Krishna

    Here is a malware distribution report by Google SafeBrowsing that shows Google has hosted and distributed Malware: http://dollarstips.com/has-google-hosted-malware-safebrowsing-says-yes.html

  • http://www.napnipnop.web.id napnipnop

    Thank you Google, my site is now completely gone from your search result. RIP for http://www.napnipnop.web.id This current regular update will make all small business and newbie blogger who use TLD drop. Now those rubbish blogspots with my copied contents inside got No. 1 position.

    My advice is use free blogspot to create blog or business even if you put duplicate content on it you will get high rank since its part of google. Then for TLD user, google insist you to use adword for traffic, and don’t depend to search result. This is how the king rule the world now.

    Because I use Bahasa Indonesia language for my blog, some of Google experts from Google webmaster forum called my blog is junk. I use local TLD and put banners + links for my others blog (no link market) and this way got me Penguin punishment. Don’t trust cute little black and white animals like panda and penguin. Next Google take Zebra to their office.

  • http://www.ftc.gov Antitrust

    Mt Cutts, google et al. How do you think this is going to affect antitrust issues in the eu as well as pending antitrust issues in usa. I know of one stealth start up that, if successful, is going to make googles penguin update the worst business decision in history. They call is Operation Death by Cutts.
    On a personal note, it seems that google has now admitted to failing, now that they are taking the 1996 approach to manually approving sites directory style. Yahoo was so ahead of it’s time.


    btw, i have been contacted by the ftc regarding potential antitrust issues they didn’t foresee.

  • Matt Cuttssucks

    Well doorway pages and full-on deception are one thing, but penalizing for something that can be gamed like Negative SEO is just stupid. Devalue spammy links so they don’t count toward rankings but penalties are just inviting people to attack their competitors. Lameness Matt… totally lame.

  • http://xfinity.wedocable.com/ Cody

    Well, the information was kind of mixed for me. But one thing that is good about the video is that you should try not to violate the guidelines of Google.

  • http://bluegoldmedia.com Houston SEo

    Well Matt, how do you distinguish between disgruntled competitors who are simply trying to knock down a website and genuine individuals making legitimate complaints? This is a dangerous game you are playing. People will find ways to abuse it and Google may not be able to do anything about it.

    • James

      Might as well just put Amazon, Wiki, About, etc in the top 10 spots, and f*ck everyone else. It’s what they are slowly doing anyways.

  • http://www.duckduckgo.com Matt Cunts

    What a clown this guy is. Not even funny anymore.

  • http://www.seo-expert-specialist.com/ Sunil

    Google has opened up PANDORA’S BOX with PENGUIN. PENGUIN may have removed some spam – but it has also thrown the babies out with the bath water. Google has also made a mockery of the Location option in Webmaster where one could specify a country. You now have UK sites ranking in Google.com (US) and vice versa and much more.

  • James

    How does this guy still have a job? He’s doing such a terrible job it’s not even funny.

    1. Tell people that a competitor can’t do negative SEO on you, it won’t effect your ranking.
    2. Run an absolutely retarded Penguin update, that messes up white and and black hat sites. He admits it was such a dumb f*cking update, that he gives a form for you to fill out.
    3. Negative SEO now works, and is now the most popular thing people are doing.
    4. Crap sites are still at the top of Google. That or irrelevant sites to the subject like Amazon and other big name stores.

    Great job you idiot.


      You are sooooooooo darn right. Matt’s just a corporate over paid Google lazy cubical, corporate BS – spoke person politician. Notice he’s been highlighted lately because Google’s being sued all over the world on SEO and abuse. The other countries want Google to get out ! CEO set it up as linking.

  • http://www.mattcutts.com we want ALL of your monies

    yep, that’s the bottom line.

  • http://www.q3tech.com Q3

    Well one of the reason Google is the best search engine is because no other SE fights spam the way they do.

    • Order



      Yep. Google Matt Cutts wants the global world to police Google and report abuse. I have a life too. If Google want’s us to police Google and report their illegal Black Hat SEO – I want Matt Cutts paycheck. Google is SEO linking abuse of —-.

  • BrianF

    This is Google wanting you to do it’s job. This can be another mistake (how many can Google make) for reporting on your competition just because you want to knock them out. Very much a case where abuse can be the result. I know I see plenty of garbage now on Google, tons of garbage sites ranking on page one, they’ve totally screwed up their searches, and they know it. Time for Google to stop manipulating search completely, they’ve stirred up the bottom feeders and destroyed the good sites. Google needs competition to keep it honest.

    • Illegal Black Hat Blasting Software

      You’re darn right “they stirred the bottom feeders.” Google’s destroying our freedom of speech. People are so darn mad they have no privacy, at all, because of Google. They’re filing law suites to limit freedom of speech around the world, to save their asses from global seo name trash abuse. Most would rather have their freedom of speech taken away then be seo name and reputation trashed by google. You can’t do this to millions of peoples names and businesses and not pay the piper some day. Then, BS claim it ALL under freedom of speech. Have, just a little respect for people and some privacy of families.

  • http://m3autotransport.com/ Michael Fox

    When your government starts asking people to report their neighbors to that government, they have crossed a line. This is always done to keep people infighting while the government goes on about doing whatever it wants to whoever it wants. Since google has become so cozy with our government, it seems they are learning from them as well.

    Well I gotta go, I think my neighbor is drinking a sugary drink and I need to let Michael Bloomberg know about it!


      YOU ARE SO RIGHT. Google is an SEO mess of Black Hat illegal blasting crappy abusers. You can’t find the real information your looking for any more. I tried to find our storage place on-line. A nice medium size, mom and pop, that runs ethically. I use to be able to look them up. NOW, they are SEO abused to the hilt and when Google-ing the address, company name, it brought up large competitors for pages and pages (after the entire storage complete information was searched) that tagged the poor nice storage place with their information. So the mom and pop are loosing business to large competitors because no one can find them at ALL. I’m in tech and now Boolean. They didn’t even come with advanced search techniques. There are Black Hat SEO blasting software on-line like blastomatic, verretekk – used to trash their enemies instantly. Google allows them to function.

      Mat Cutts, is getting big Google corporate money for a cush job by telling everyone else to ‘report’ abuse. Not my job to spend my spare time reporting Google abuse and cleaning up the CRAP THEY GET PAID BILLIONS TO TRASH PEOPLE BY CREATING THE LINKING THAT CAUSED IT ALL.

      Matt Cutts – GET OUT OF GOOGLE AND LET A REAL MAN HAVE THE JOB. Stop using your customers to police Google.

  • Matt Coward

    Yes, Matt wipe the Google off your chin. The FCC needs to just shut down Google for it’s illegal practices (especially adsense). Google has made the whole internet suck. Stop using Google for all your internet needs. Wanna bet their saving info on everybody?


    Mat Cutts, is a big corporate over paid BS idiot. I know this first hand from the Black Hat SEO illegal blasting software that is allowed to used in instant abuse. Google, does not stop it.

  • Illegal Black Hat Blasting Software

    Matt, your are so darn corporate full of it. Look up all the illegal black hat seo illegal blasting software that back-links in the millions and illegally hacks information on web sites. It disrupts internet businesses. I’m a white hat starter up due to unemployment in regular field. I can’t compete against the google allowed illegal blasting software and internet sites. People are right as your only desperately trying to get all us, to police and report on google. I reported months ago. Google’s didn’t do a thing.

    Seems your fighting law suites on this all over the world. Didn’t you get nabbed for 22 million from FTC for other illegal practices ?

    We don’t know one person who looks up their name on google to see see their name in lights. It’s only to see what google has trashed their name with now under seo abuse and disgusting spamming crap.

    Matt, your a corporate spokes person with NO SUBSTANCE. Everything you say, do, write is from google legal approved. Not from a guy who wants to really solve the problem.


  • http://www.whitehatseoteam.com/ Precious@ white hat seo

    yup,,,It’s great to know the things which are happening in SEO world…some people are doing Black Hat SEO but Google can’t take any kind of steps to stop and ban them. It’s embarrassing for me who are doing white hat SEO…Thanks

  • http://amenaakter.com/ Bonnie@ on page seo

    Hey precious, I’m also feeling worried why google aren’t penalizing them who are practicing black hat SEO…I’ve been practicing white hat seo over 2 years…I hate using black hat methods…Thanks for sharing this useful article

  • http://www.giryagirl.com/ Adrienne Harvey

    Interesting… and so good to see a demonstrated open line of communication to Google!

  • sherry snyder

    My question is the company I’m working for unknowingly hired a blackhat and he has 302’ed his personal sites to my customer and they are totally off of google serps and only his sites are now showing up for related searches for this company?

  • CA

    I’m sure the Google is impressed with its own record of catching webspam, but in my experience they completely miss the mark, and won’t even share what the legitimate publishing community should do to help them combat it. This post from Matt Cutts is a common example. He doesn’t define what the black hat practices are. He doesn’t share any information about how they can be detected or identified. He just says that if you find them, then sure, Google wants to know. Not that they are going to do anything about it. They just want to know.
    Meanwhile, legitimate publishers continue to get slammed. Google treats popular, original source publishers as though they are part of the problem. The only lesson I can find is that a publisher should avoid being too successful, because then it will be copied by spammers, and Google will lump the origin in with the spammers.
    My site lost over 1,000 #1 keywords in 2 days. Google has not listened to anything. Google has done nothing to help. The spammers are climbing in the ratings. My site has plummeted. They run more ads than I do. Google makes more money from them than they do from me. It isn’t about helping people on the web find the resources they want. It is all about Google gouging what it can and proving that it is the 800 pound gorilla.
    But I was online before Google. They will continue adapting to the AltaVista model. I watched AltaVista come and go. It will happen to Google, too. Just a matter of time when they are driven more by greed than information.

  • Cruth Cat

    Thanks Matt, but iv’e tried everything and nothing is being done.