Whether you can hardly remember what SEO is an acronym for (it’s search engine optimization) or you can tick off black hat tricks like nobody’s business, it’s worth taking a refresher from Matt Cutts. He’s the head of Google’s Webspam Team and originally joined the tech giant in 2000 as an engineer. With a PhD in computer Graphics, a master’s and bachelor’s in computer science, and author of the first SafeSearch version—Google’s family filter—he’s a pretty hefty top dog in the world of SEO.
In April 2014, Cutts released a video on his official Google blog aimed at debunking the biggest SEO myths that just won’t die. Basically, he split everything into two key categories: Ads along with their influence on scoring organic results, and fast fixes that can allegedly “break” the Google algorithm. Of course, there’s a lot of other misinformation out there, but Cutts considers these two camps the most frustrating. But what about them exactly is false?
Debunking the Ad Rumors
Cutts noted that a lot of people say Google changes organic results in order to favor those who buy ads. They see it like a Publisher’s Clearinghouse approach where the more you buy, the better your odds of winning the jackpot. In the world of SEO, the “jackpot” is Google’s top ranking for your keywords and phrases. However, he says this is completely untrue—but it does make some people feel better when they can’t quite make the top spot.
He points out that there’s truly only room for one at the top, and your odds of getting it decrease when facing a more competitive market. For example, if you’re the only hot yoga teacher in a rural area, it’s probably going to be pretty easy to rank number one for “hot yoga Nowheresville,” whether you buy ads or not. On the other hand, if you’re one of several florists that ship around the country and don’t have a geo-target, good luck taking on the biggies like 1800 Flowers and FTD for “order flowers” as a key phrase.
Stop Looking for a Shortcut
When it comes to quick fixes and breaking algorithms, Cutts simply points to the abundance of what he calls “groupthink” in black hat forums. It’s easy to get a rumor started, and the thrill of trying to break a Google design is tempting. You can easily spend hours, days, or even weeks trying to find that shortcut—but Cutts says they don’t exist, and even if they did are you really saving time or effort at this point?
Perusing forums, you’ll find that some gossip mongers hawk guest blogging as a tactic, others say link wheels, and then somebody else comes up with an entirely new theory. If one person says X tactic works like a charm, they’ll send everyone on a wild Panda chase. The truth, according to Cutts, is that if a real loophole existed, it would have been well taken advantage of and addressed long ago. Plus, it’s kind of like finding a massive gold treasure trove—you keep that secret to yourself and don’t share the address with the world.
The fact is that SEO is both a skill and an art that requires a variety of white hat techniques over time to produce results. Anyone who promises to get you to number one in 90 days or less is not only lying to you but clearly does not know anything about internet marketing.