Just Because Someone Works At Google Doesn’t Make Them An SEO Expert

I had an interesting email hit my inbox, someone showing me how a Google employee was “100%” sure there had been no Penguin Update. There was, of course, and it’s a reminder that just because someone is a Googler, that doesn’t mean they know how Google Search works.

Google has nearly 25,000 employees (according to a search I did on Google just now), and they’re involved with all types of projects. Many have nothing to do with search.

In the email I saw, a Googler (yes, it really was someone who worked for Google) was asked about the Penguin update, if they knew anything. Response?

I assure you 100% that there has been nothing at Google referred to as “Penguin.”

If you notice on those search results you sent me, not a single source is from Google itself.

The person asking had forwarded the Googler search results for “Penguin Update.” I’m not surprised there was no source from Google itself in those results. That’s because Google didn’t formally give Penguin its name until I pried it out of them two days after the launch, two days after the official blog post went up.

The Googler went on:

From what I just saw on this whole Penguin thing–it sounds to me like a lot of SEO companies that use shady and unethical practices are upset that their loop holes have been cut out!

Actually, it’s not really been a lot of SEO companies that I’ve seen complaining. It’s been a lot of individuals who have been hit, and quite likely for black hat SEO tactics that Penguin was intended to punish.

Bottom line: should you encounter one of those 25,000 Googlers, don’t assume that they have inside knowledge about ranking issues. Chances are, they don’t.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Employees | Google: SEO | Top News

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Matt McGee

    This is very true. I was speaking at local search conference three weeks ago, and one of Google’s main local guys was there, too — sitting next to me at the speaker’s table. Two things to share from the Q&A:

    1) An attendee asked how she could go about finding who is already linking to her site. The guy from Google leaned over to me and asked, “Can’t she just do that link: command search on Google? Or did we turn that off?” I said, “No, that hasn’t worked for years.”

    2) There were several occasions where an attendee had a question for Google and he had to explain that he works in Maps/Places, and doesn’t know what the other departments are doing. (i.e., social search, webspam, etc.)

  • http://www.rustybrick.com/barry Barry Schwartz

    Love it

  • http://www.kezber.com/ Etienne Dupuis

    Unless his name is Matt Cutts ;)

  • http://twitter.com/matthewmarley Matthew Marley

    haha thats funny…… 

  • http://twitter.com/timothyjjensen Timothy Jensen

    Not surprising…on the PPC end I know it’s always hit or miss with AdWords support reps to get people who actually understand what you are asking vs. those who just hand out canned responses

  • Hashim Warren

    I heard Matt Cutts defend “Search Plus Your World” on This Week in Google, and I thought he was either being disingenuous or ignorant. 

    He claimed that there were technical limitations to Google surfacing public Facebook and Twitter results in the special social one-boxes. It was obvious to the rest of the world that Google was willing to sacrifice relevancy for the sake of promoting its own property.

    It was also clear that the Matt either wasn’t being forthcoming about the motivation for SPYW or he was out of the loop on the decision.

  • http://twitter.com/otep_enmanuel Joseph Enmanuel

    Like in any company, even in SEO company, not all are SEOs.It’s  a common sense,  If you will ask google employee(s) “What’s penguin update?” …maybe they’ll answer you “What the hell are you talking about!” .. it’s not surprising! just my opinion  ^_^

  • http://twitter.com/slivengood Shawn Livengood

    Ha!  This also reminds me of all those SEM agencies who claim to have a “former Google employee on staff.”  I always just assume they hired some guy who used to work in the Google cafeteria.

  • Nathan Giesbrecht

    I can attest to this fact first hand! I’ve worked with an SEO who liked to bill himself as “a former executive at Google”. After seeing what he was doing (nothing but buying links), it became painfully obvious that this guy wasn’t just a fool, but he was dangerous as well. After looking him up, it turns out he was an AdWords Marketing director at Google UK. Ie. He was an AdWords salesman. This, however, did not stop him from lying to customers about his professional history. It’s unfortunate that so many SEO’s are scum bags.

  • http://www.simplyclicks.com/ David Burdon

    A few years ago I had a furtive enquiry for SEO training. The person was reluctant to discuss there employer and wanted to pay for the training course via a private credit card. Turns out the person worked for Google in Dublin.

  • http://profitpathz.com/ Bill Davis

    Asking the janitor at NASA how rocket propulsion works is along the same lines. Most people go to work, sit in meetings all day, and know less about their company than outsiders who have to deal with the 8000 pound gorilla on a daily basis…

  • http://twitter.com/FirstManOnDaMoo pieter mergan

    it becomes really funny when, at SMX London last week, Amit Singhal says he doesn’t know what the Venice update is

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JKCNL3CR4UJXIFYXD3FWZ2HEAE Arthur

    my classmate’s step-sister makes $62 every hour on the computer. She has been without work for 8 months but last month her paycheck was $20668 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this web site CashLazy.c&#111m 

  • http://twitter.com/seocharlie Carlos Chacón l SEO

    Average people don´t know about SEO. Average Google`s employees don´t know about SEO too. So, just because we ARE in this little world, it does not mean everybody knows about how SEO works…

  • http://www.digitalmoz.com SEO Philippines

    haha this guy might be from Google mars. I am not sure who this guy is but he really should be looking for reference and has to be sure before he say something. After all, he’s working for a big company and he could easily escape with a line “We, Googlers, aren’t authorized to say something about this issue.”. Period. 

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/111506395990228434496/about Stacey Cavanagh

    Haha, that made me laugh too.

  • http://arie5758.blogspot.com/ arie5758

    In the company there some departement to support.
    For example: one of steel company, not all employees will understand how to make steel. Finance people do not necessarily know the type of steel

    So did employees goggle

  • olafpijl

    Same goes for some Google AdWords professionals. Some don’t know the first thing in setting up a campaign. Every time you contact them, they throw in the “advice” to start advertising on YouTube.

    Just last month, we managed to increase sales results from an AdWords campaign (set up and managed by Google) by 1590%! Took us 2 hours. Go figure!

  • http://gyitsakalakis.com/ Gyi Tsakalakis

    Don’t ask your Adwords Rep. questions about search quality.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YMTXAXV55SZZXSI7BIXKJZLESA Mia

    my classmate’s aunt makes $76 hourly on the internet. She has been out of a job for 10 months but last month her pay was $20543 just working on the internet for a few hours. Go to this web site and read more CashLazy.c&#111m

  • http://twitter.com/MaryKayLofurno Mary Kay Lofurno

    You can say the same thing about other things as well.  Not surprising. 

  • Cbellamlr

    I work for an SEO company and it has always been our policy to never use black hat techniques (www.pathinteractive.com). Sometimes it hurt when another terrible website with a million links in the footer outranked us, but that’s much less of the case now. Penguin IS real!

  • http://www.webstatsart.com/ Webstats Art

    It takes a certain inquisitive mind to be interested in Google , SEO, SERPS, algos and other nonsense. Don’t question google employees about this because if you know too much, you might make them afraid and get defensive. 

  • robthespy

    In general, there seems to be a major disconnect between the various departments/groups at Google.

    Even the cleaning staff at Apple know when there is an iOS update.  :0

  • robthespy

     Don’t ask your Adwords rep. about Adwords!

  • http://gyitsakalakis.com/ Gyi Tsakalakis

    It would have been really tough for me to refrain from saying the link: operator was gold. Or alternatively, yahoo site explorer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/seo.jaipur Seo Jaipur

    Googler is Very Funny

  • McdanielLawrence

    my classmate’s step-mother makes $71 hourly on the internet. She has been out of work for seven months but last month her pay was $14937 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site CashLazy.c&#111m

  • http://www.workonlinelegit.com/ Stephen Kavita

    This story reminds of a similar thing that happened to me recently. A friend was insisting I enroll for an SEO training class. My friend told me that the guy training has lived in the US for a long time and used to hang around top SEO expects. But on comparing my site ranking with his i discovered my site was ranking better than all his sites.

    Just because you hang around ducks does not imply that you can produce the same sound as they do.

  • http://www.atishayjain.info/ Atishay Jain

    Ahha if it would be someone like Matt Cutts then it might be possible to know how the search engines actually works.

  • http://www.technoworldnews.com/ Debarup Mukherjee

    you snatch my words… 

  • Mark Thomas

    I think this is pretty obvious…did it really need an article to be written? Just because someone works at a company, they’re not going to know everything about the business or how it operates, just what they need to know to do their job.

  • http://www.inboundmarketingexpert.org/ Inbound Marketing Expert

    i am totally agree with dan

  • newyorker_1

    this makes sense. just like in any other organisation, many departments have no idea what others are doing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AlRabinowitz Alan Rabinowitz

    So true! I have been given misinformation from Google Staff on multiple occasions. Its very sad.

  • Bernadette Asilo

    I am really agree with it. You made an awesome work! :)
    http://www.rankbyte.com

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