SEO Is Not Spam, Says Google's Matt Cutts

Alan Perkins

Alan Perkins

25th October 2011

Google's Head of Webspam, Matt Cutts, has posted a video to the Google Webmaster Youtube Channel explaining what he's been saying in private and on conference platform for years - that SEO per se is not spam; ethical SEO as practiced and long advocated by me (so much so that I worked with Matt when he was putting together the original Google Webmaster Guidelines a decade ago this month) is certainly not spam; but that some forms of SEO, in particular black hat SEO, are spam.  The video is below and, for those of you without video playing capabilities, a transcript prepared by Lynda follows:


Transcript of "Does Google Consider SEO to be Spam?" By Matt Cutts

I wanted to take a minute and talk a little bit about search engine optimization and spam, and answer the question “Does Google consider SEO to be spam?”

And the answer in “No. We don’t consider SEO to be spam.”  Now a few really tech savvy people might get angry at that. So let me explain in a little more detail.  SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  And essentially it just means trying to make sure that your pages are well represented within search engines.  And there’s enormous amount ...of white hat, great quality stuff that you can do as a search engine optimizer.

You can do things like making sure that your pages are crawlable. So you want them to be accessible. You want people to be able to find them just by clicking on links. And in the same way search engines can find them just by clicking on links.

You want to make sure that people use the right keywords. If you’re using industry jargon or lingo that not everybody else uses, then a good SEO can help you find out, oh, these are keywords that you should have been thinking about.

You can think about usability, and trying to make sure that the design of the site is good. That’s good for users and for search engines.

You can think about how to make your site faster. Not only does Google use site speed in our rankings as one of the many factors that we use in our search rankings. But if you can make your site run faster, that can also make it a much better experience.

So there are an enormous number of things that SEOs do, everything from helping out with the initial site architecture and deciding what your site should look like, and the url structure, and the templates, and all that sort of stuff, making sure that your site is crawlable, all the way down to helping optimize for your return on investment. So trying to figure out what are the ways that you are going to get the best bang for the buck, doing AB testing, trying to find out, OK, what is the copy that converts, all those kinds of things. There is nothing at all wrong with all of those white hat methods.

Now, are there some SEOs who go further than we would like? Sure. And are there some SEOs who actually try to employ black hat techniques, people that hack sites or that keyword stuff and just repeat things or that do sneaky things with redirects? Yeah, absolutely. But our goal is to make sure that we return the best possible search results we can. And a very wonderful way that search engine optimizers can help is by cooperating and trying to help search engines find pages better. So SEO is not spam. SEO can be enormously useful. SEO can also be abused and it can be overdone.

But it’s important to realise that we believe, in an ideal world, people wouldn’t have to worry about these issues. But search engines are not as smart as people yet. We’re working on it. We’re trying to figure out what people mean. We’re trying to figure out synonyms, and vocabulary, and stemming so that you don’t have to know exactly the right word to search for what you wanted to find. But until we get to that day, search engine optimization can be a valid way to help people find what they are looking for via search engines.

We provide webmaster guidelines on There’s a free webmaster forum. There are free webmaster tools. There’s a ton of HTML documentation. So if you search for SEO starter guide, we’ve written a beginner guide where people can learn more about search engine optimization.

But just to be very clear, there are many, many valid ways that people can make the world better with SEO. It’s not the case that...sometimes you’ll hear SEOs are criminals. SEOs are snake oil salesmen. If you find a good person, someone that you can trust, someone that will tell you exactly what they’re doing, the sort of person where you get good references, or you’ve seen their work and it’s very helpful, and they’ll explain exactly what they’re doing, they can absolutely help your website. So I just wanted to dispel that misconception.

Some people think Google thinks all SEO is spam and that’s definitely not the case. There are a lot of great SEOs out there. And I hope you find a good one to help with your website.

!-----************** JS********* --Google Webmaster Guidelinesare //objectDoes Google Consider SEO to be Spam?nbsp;And essentially it just means trying to make sure that your pages are well represented within search engines. re’s enormous amount ...of white hat, great quality stuff that you can do as a search engine optimizer.p

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