• Lyndon NA

    Great piece!

    I’m tempted to say I cannot believe Matt Cutts is shirking and dumping the responsibility/workload on the Forum Volunteers … but I’d be lying!
    Seriously, G needs to buck it’s ideas up.
    It’s spent years passing the buck to volunteers – it’s about time they did some of the work themselves.

  • Nandita B

    Matt Cutts should also think about webmasters who have been hit by “Algorithmic Penalty.” There are lots of webmasters who don’t know which algorithm (Panda, Penguin, EMD etc.) has hit their sites.

    There should be some kind of “form” inline of “reconsideration request” to know the exact reason of penalty (adjustments).

  • Mark R

    Some of Matt’s responses make it sound like he was getting a little annoyed with your questions.

  • http://twitter.com/Primod Jason Snape

    Ha, this is pure gold:

    “we recommend asking questions in our webmaster SEO forum.”

    Well, as someone who has spent a little time in that forum, I can say that it is the most unhelpful place on the entire internet full of ‘helpers’ 0- many of these folks don’t run businesses, don’t have websites but that essentially act as Google’s hounds and chide webmasters about all of their nasty, evil spamming.

    If only it were this easy. If only most people understood that the companies they hired to promote their sites were not doing things exactly the right way. And heaven forbid you should ask for help in the webmaster SEO forum and actually expect some help. You may get some abuse, but help, not in my experience.

    This may seem unfair and there are a lot of folks there that do want to help but a few, high profile members seem to enjoy chasing people out of dodge that ask any questions and even chasing away people trying to help.

    The members there seem to assume that every business owner has an in depth knowledge of search and the guidelines that Google has laid down. They assume that if someone has purchased a dodgy SEO package in the past that they are 100% responsible and personally, I don’t think that is right.

    I have worked with many small companies this last year or so who have been buying ‘SEO’ or at least something that worked with regards to their rankings and when the various P bombs dropped this last couple of years they got hurt.

    Okay, fair is fair, whilst they profited, others trying to do things by the book floundered so they are not innocents here but small business owners should be able to go to those forums and ask questions and educate themselves without being abused and chased of the board which is what seemingly happens in many cases.

    There are a lot of hard done by folks that have knowingly spammed who go to these forums for help and maybe they deserve such a response but in the midst of those are small business owners, mom and dad businesses that are having a hard enough time, bought something that worked and get their asses kicked just for asking for help.

    Not cool Google. Not cool Matt Cutts. Not cool Google product forum volunteers – you know who you are.

  • Jamie Press

    Here’s a cool Chrome extension which looks at your Google Analytics chart to overlay Google algorithm updates including Panda and Penguin: https://secure.chartelligence.com/ https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/chartelligence/njhdcfdiifemfnfddhfjmfbkajajceag?hl=en

  • TmWe

    This is absolutely true. And never mind the abuse, a lot of what they say is totally wrong. You see it on all forums though when you give people badges, those with low self-esteem and personality issues think it gives them some sort of importance in life.

  • http://profiles.google.com/gladstein Bob Gladstein

    I wouldn’t go so far as to call it FUD, but I can see why Google would choose not to be completely transparent about this (no matter what they may publicly say). If you find out you’ve been penalized for something you did, but you’re not told exactly what you did, you need to think about the risks you’ve taken. There are probably a few different things that may have caused the penalty. If the reconsideration request calls for a mea culpa, then you’re going to have to fix all of those things and admit to having done them. That may help Google improve their algorithmic methods of detecting those practices that they didn’t happen to catch you for.

    It also gives them clues about what you might typically do. If Agency X did this, this and this on Site A, maybe they did the same kind of things on sites B, C, and D.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jan.willers Jan Willers

    I believe Sometimes Google sents out manual penalties even without they have found something. Why do they do so? To learn how SEO’s react who actually did something compared to the others who did not. Even Google has to learn the old fashioned way.

  • http://twitter.com/durant_imboden Durant Imboden

    Well, his job is to stop spam, not to help spammers who have seen the light and repented. :-)

  • Daria Mack

    Wow Danny, this is a new level of being useless. The best site for Search Engines is parroting from Google that we need to post on a useless and abusive forum and then do a reconsideration request. Such breaking news!!

    Why don’t you just give up the pretense? Google has gone pay to play on all commercial SERPs and all they care is ads and ad clicks. Even the ever phony Matt Cutts couldn’t help but show his annoyance with your questions. (He’s done with Google too, he just has to wait for the current batch of stock options to kick in.)

  • Daria Mack

    How do you know what his real job is?

  • http://twitter.com/durant_imboden Durant Imboden

    I don’t think it’s any secret that, to use his own description, Matt Cutts is “currently the head of Google’s Webspam team.”

  • http://www.infoeducations.com/ chaudhary amir

    wonderful great article Danny

  • http://twitter.com/durant_imboden Durant Imboden

    Maybe the solution would be to have openness and transparency on both sides. Site owners or SEOs could submit a list of their guideline violations, and Google would tell them which items on the list were responsible for the manual penalty.

  • Lyndon NA

    Not being funny – but I actually spent a fair bit of time in the Google Webmaster Forums, providing help and support to hundreds/thousands of people/sites/businesses.

    It’s not always “spam” as in Spammers.
    Sometimes it’s “spam” out of naivety.
    Sometimes it’s just a misunderstanding.
    Other times it’s due to what someone else has done.
    Other times it’s an intentional quality issue.
    Other times it’s an accidental quality issue.
    There are times when there is no rhyme/reason (they get hit, competitor with same setup doesn’t).

    On the odd occasion it’s actually a problem with Google.

    So not exactly as clear cut as you paint it.
    (You try spending a few hours a day, every day, helping out people and then pass judgement. The vast majority don’t read the FAQs, don’t have a clue what they are doing … and start doing some seriously dumb things out of panic.)

    Sure – don’t help the spammers – I think that’s fine (Something many will agree with!).

    That still leaves plenty of others that are deserving of support and some help.

    G have the capacity to identify a level of trust and a degree of transgression.
    But they don’t bother.
    Instead, we see the bigger sites get some feedback, whilst the huge number of normal sites are left to fend for themselves, or get help from volunteers doing Googles job.

  • Lyndon NA

    I’ll counter that.
    I know that some of the TCs and Regulars there happen to run their own businesses, and run their own sites, and some happen to do the same for their clients/family/friends etc.
    (Please get your facts right)

    As for the grief … yes, it can/does happen.
    Usually to those that don’t bother reading the FAQs, Searching for similar topics, looking at existing/current topics and often don’t provide even the basic details (such as a URL, the date they saw things go wrong etc.).

    When you are faced with lazy people that are wilfully ignorant … and you are left with the same question you have handled 3 times that day, 20 times that week, 180 times that month… you tend to get a bit peevish.

    Throw in the fact that a fair % of those posting are actually crummy SEOs looking for free education … often charging their clients then posting to get free help for something they cannot do…
    … or are people that have intentionally spammed G, got caught and now looking for a way out…
    … and the level of peevishness goes up.

    Maybe YOU should try giving a few hours a day, every day, and see what it’s like?
    Maybe after you’ve dealt with 50-100 people posting about the same 6 topics, failing to provide any commonsense details and are generally overly defensive … you’ll have a slightly more mature and informed view?

    No, that doesn’t excuse some of the behaviour.
    No, that doesn’t legitimise some of the language.
    But it does portray “the other view” that so many fail to mention.

    As for the answers … all in all, most of the answers are accurate/correct.
    People may not like them, they may steer away from common SEO scummy tactics … but they do tend to provide safe, solid information.

  • http://ftc.gov/ MonopolizedSearch

    Jason is right. Google earns so much money but gives so little back to the community. Google’s webmaster help forum is simply an unmoderated place for webmasters to get trashed by others in a public setting. Talk about a very poor user experience! Hey Google, practice what you preach and clean up that cesspool of a forum that is supposed to “help” webmasters.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    “The concern here is that publishers — large or small — potentially enter
    the forums for advice about a penalty Google has sent, then get sent on
    a wild goose chase to fix things that might not be the actual problem.”

    No one can ever get a complete look under the hood of your website, so the real issue might be completely overlooked or misdiagnosed by people in the forums. It’s not to say that you can’t learn something or walk away with some tips, but it’s still just an educated shot in the dark.

  • http://www.v2interactive.net/ Josh

    So what we learned from this was… Nothing.

  • http://www.v2interactive.net/ Josh

    Annoyed? I picked up apathetic. But regardless, useless.

  • TmWe

    I see. So, it is not the forum ‘volunteers’ who make the forum such a hostile, challenging, confrontational, discouraging and downright worthless place to ask questions. But it is the people who are asking the questions who are the root cause. Interesting angle.

  • Lyndon NA


    It’s a matter of Both.

    There are some efforts that could be made from the Regulars/TRs … but not having to face hugely repeated questions, not having to drag the obviously required information out of posters etc. would go a long, Long, LONG way to reducing irritation.

    Seriously – go and try it. See how you feel after answering “how long till indexed” for the 20th time in a week …. then compare it to your feelings at the end of a month and answering it 100+ times.

    I also notice you blithely ignored your previous inaccuracies being pointed out :D

  • Lyndon NA

    I cannot believe this … but I’m going to step up on behalf of G here…


    Google do a lot of good … there’s various donations, endevours and support efforts they do each and every year.
    It’s not like they simply take money and don’t give anything back.

    The problem is, most site owners don’t realise … they are Not G’s clients/customers.
    They are Googles food … and there is no shortage of it.

    So what if you site tanks, there’s 100+ others out there to take your place.

    Why should G expend even more money on supporting people?
    They paid for the forum format etc.

    know, I think it sucks too – it took years of some of us screaming at
    them to get improvements (Some of which I only saw a few years after I
    left the forums).

    But G really has little interest in handling the basic stuff of the multitude.
    And, not being funny – but translate it to a “real world” scenario. Websites are assets, like a company car.
    How many people try to fix their own company car? How many try to tweak it to race? How many expect their car to win?
    there are thousands out there that fiddle without much of a clue, that
    haven’t read the manuals, that don’t have the right tools etc. :(

    Personally I’d like to see much better support … but I wouldn’t hold your breath if I were you.
    Personally, I’d love to see G provide real support (Rather than using and abusing volunteers)

  • TmWe

    “I also notice you blithely ignored your previous inaccuracies ….” Not me, looks like you need to review this comment thread!

  • Lyndon NA

    My apologies, I merged your comments with the OPs.
    You are correct, it wasn’t you.

  • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

    Just want to throw in another thing the Google Forum TCs face, as I have had it happen to me when attempting to help there or just about anywhere else.

    Imagine taking some time to offer some knowledge, or even digging in and doing some analysis for someone who needs help. Then that person gets angry with you for pointing out problems with their site, their incoming links or whatever the issue is. So yeah, if you are going to act like a jerk, someone is going to call you a jerk sooner or later.

    It seems a great many of the people who seek help in the forums aren’t really looking for help. They are looking for someone to tell them it’s all Google’s fault, or they are looking for a get out of jail free card. Some will even flat out lie about their situation – “I don’t have any spam links” when there are thousands, “I have all original content” except for 80% of the blog which is copied from elsewhere, or “this is the first time this has happened” then you find where they asked the same question 3 months ago.

    I can totally understand why the TCs get frustrated, but there are a few who start out a little abusive, rather than being pushed toward it.

    All that being said, there are plenty of site owners who really haven’t done anything particularly bad who have a tough time getting a straight answer when Google does screw up. Google Places/Local comes to mind as a problem area with few official answers and they are often incorrect.

  • http://twitter.com/ceilascorner Charlotte Klein

    People seem to be confused and upset, looking for the right answers. Maybe if we could all connect and be friends it could lead the way for a better understanding of the rules and practices we need to implement for ourselves and others in the Google world.

  • Lyndon NA

    Not a problem Nick … and good call.

    I’ll admit – I used to start off answer about 60% of posts with a bit of aggression/frustration … but that’s roughly the % of posts that were duplicated, lacking the requested information, the poster had blatantly lied about reading the FAQs/Searching etc.
    If that isn’t enough to put someone in an irritated mood, what is?

    One of the things I used to get was “then don’t answer”.
    The problem there is that results in a larger % of posts getting no answer. Further, it encourages that sort of behaviour – it teaches peopel that they don’t need to comply with polite requests that save time/effort/resources – instead they can waste other peoples time.

    No, being harsh to people is not a wonderful thing to do … but nor is taking up other peoples time unnecessarily.

    Both sides need to fix their issues :D

  • http://twitter.com/GooglePenalty Gary Lee

    “Turn to Google’s webmaster help forum”? Matt Cutts you are an idiot! Yep pass the workload to the Volunteers! You should be ashamed of yourself. You are letting your search customers down and the whole internet. With every second you delay on helping clean up spam by not having a GOOGLE EMPLOYEE on the actual forum to help you are making the issue worse.

    You are a disgrace and so is Google. You have been caught giving wrong information to webmaster here http://www.reconsiderationrequests.net/google-hangouts/26-April-2013.php#Q5

    The webspam team is so slow to react to webspam reports that it encourages spam! It has for years and years.

    Sort it out!!!!!! OR quit your job!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mücahit-Güner/100003339168229 Mücahit Güner

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