Latest Interview: Matt Cutts

During my recent trip to SMX Advanced, I sat down with Google’s Matt Cutts to discuss link building. In the discussion, we covered a wide variety of white hat link building techniques. What makes this interesting is the insight is provides on what Matt considers to be White Hat.

Check it out, and then comment below if you want to discuss it.


  1. says

    I found the interview fascinating. I have been struggling to get links. I was strongly tempted to succumb to some of the paid links. Something criedout that it didn’t make sense, so I didn’t do it. I have been at this since March and found there is no easy way to be a success. I have tried to buy success with software to do something for me but have found in the end it just pays someone money without benefiting me.

    Thought I would be able to make money overnight. I wish I was being paid by the hour. Thanks for the article. I will be back for more.

  2. says

    Very interesting. I loved the part where Matt Cutts says “It’s almost certain that Google links to Yahoo and Yahoo links to Google on some level”. Is there any kind of double meaning or something like that ? A Freudian slip, maybe ? (I am thinking about the new advertising collaboration deal between Google and Yahoo).

  3. says

    As someone who is still trying to develop my link building skills, this post is extremely helpful. Too many focus on link numbers, but here quality beats out quantity. I particularly liked Matt’s examples of what is good link practices.

  4. says

    Don’t miss this tip , I thought this was, and should be the case.

    Matt Cutts: We do still encourage people to have interesting and helpful links for their users. **And, don’t focus too much on trading with the authoritative guys and never the smaller guys**

  5. peterK says

    Very refreshing interview! Thank you for being there and sharing the information. I for one rather have a better internet than a vast collection of crappy link-whores…

    One subject concerning link building strategy that I feel was not mentioned is when your competition buys many many links and use your domain as a “test subject”…

    If victim site punished = good,

    Else hole in Google detected, redirect links to perpetrator…

    I read about this “technique” yesterday and am wondering what Google plans to do to protect the web’s “fair-play”

  6. says

    “Very interesting. I loved the part where Matt Cutts says “It’s almost certain that Google links to Yahoo and Yahoo links to Google on some level”. Is there any kind of double meaning or something like that ? A Freudian slip, maybe ? (I am thinking about the new advertising collaboration deal between Google and Yahoo).”

    Yahoo! Directory paid links have been a boost in google’s rankings since day one.. the two are not related…

  7. says

    Great – I need clarification on these topics. But I am wondering if unpaid posting to relevant forums (with a signature file) is still an accepable practice.

  8. says

    Excellent interview… and a real pleasure to read.

    However, with regards to widgets, should any ‘relevant’ links be directed to a specific ‘Widget’ page? perhaps with details of how ‘other’ users can harness the widget.

    Otherwise, will driving lots of different widget links into the homepage trip a filter and affect the external link profile of the homepage?

    I’m 110% behind adding value to the web, but it can be a struggle trying to get clients to think the user, rather than the customer.

    The quest, as they say, continues.

  9. says

    Hi Simon – I’d say that you can link to a deep page on your site with a widget, provided that page is the source of the content on display in the widget.

  10. says

    Hi Eric and thank you for taking the time to reply. That’s great, and I agree with you.

    I think in terms of the user, they would probably be interested in finding out ‘where to get the widget’ or ‘what it’s about’ so it makes sense to include links ONLY to the deeper pages with discuss the widget or the data/ info/ results from the widget.

    This, of course, will not sit with the strategies of many a web marketer…. but at least this will give us a best case to work with.

    Also, with keyword selection on those link, would you recommend being really strict with these keywords? so that they aren’t “Currency Conversion” (for example), but instead, Currency Conversion Widget from ABC Exchange”?. Now I’ve included the key term at the front, but is the safest option just to link the brand / company name?

  11. says

    Hi Simon – I would feel OK being a bit more liberal than what you suggest. The key thing is to be keep in mind the users. For example, you could put something that says Click here “for more information on Blue Widgets”, with the quoted part being the link text. Here you are honestly telling the user what they will get if they click on the link.

    As long at the text is genuine, and targeted at users, you should be OK. I know that he did warn us about trying to do too much with anchor text, and you should be concerned about not going off the deep end with it, but the real key is taking care of the user.

  12. says

    Thanks Eric and I think you’ve summed it up nicely with the follow:

    “The real key is taking care of the user”.

    Aside from link building, baiting and all sorts of on and off the page optimisation, this is a key statement which I think everyone needs to read, understand, practise and preach.

  13. says

    Regarding hidden anchor text.

    I’m curious about the anchor text for the main nav on one of the sites that Matt mentions ( They’ve used a CSS technique where the top tabbed nav in the header is created with images but has text in the code that is indented -999 ems and the overflow hidden so users can’t see it but search engines and screen readers can.

    This is a nice technique, looks great, doesn’t use java or anything and is good for accessibility but it’s also hiding the text and Google has no way of knowing that the nav images say the same thing that the text does (which it does actually) so is this a safe technique to use in web site design? Or does it risk a hidden text penalty?

    Can Google interpret CSS?

    Cheers, Rich

  14. says

    Hi Rich – A safer way to do this would be to use Scalable Inman Flash Replacement (SIFR). This is technique that allows you to render your key page headers in a more visually appealing way. Note that with SIFR, the text rendered graphically is guaranteed to be exactly the same as the search engine visible text (because the higher quality text is generated from the HTML text.

    Ultimately though, if someone at Google were to manually look at the example you spoke of, they would be mainly concerned about whether or not the text moved off screen by the CSS was identical to the graphically rendered text.

    How much Google reads CSS is not well known to the general public. Clearly, it is something that they could do, and positioning elements off screen in the way you described above would be pretty easy to detect.

    What is clear, is that Google has no way to algorithmically determine if the nature of the way the technique is being used is nefarious or legit.

  15. says

    Hi Eric,

    Thanks for your fast response, I don’t want to cause a big deviation in this thread as the interview was ‘about the ‘right kind of link’s rather than questionable use of anchor text, so I’ll keep this short, maybe you could post on it sometime.

    I had a look at SIFR and it seems I’m caught between the rocks and a stony place as one technique involves the use of hidden text which Google might frown upon as their default position because they have no way of knowing if the images show the same text to users that the anchor test is showing to their bot, or a techniques that required that suers have both Flash and Java enabled or it won#t work and will default to the CSS styling anyway.

    I wonder if Matt’s endorsement of IZEA also includes their coding practices, or maybe I’m reading too much into it and that never even crossed his mind. He must have to so careful what he gives public approval too.


  16. says

    Hi Eric,

    First time posting on your website. I read that interview, it’s great! Thanks for asking such good questions. It really helps clarify some things I’ve wanted to see a source such as Google state.

    Thanks again,

  17. says

    I have been really interested in this topic of recipricol links. Most non-SEO webmasters still have this belief that recipricol links rule. However, I get the impression from comments by Matt Cutts that the importance of recipricol links is irrelevent today. They may happen naturally and that is okay. If you pad your site with recipricol links, you may get penalized or banned. However, targeting the obtaining of recipricol links is a meaningless practice that will not do much for you anymore. Am I reading between the lines correctly on this concept?

  18. says

    Brian – I think you’ve got it. However, if you get “too many” reciprocal links, I don’t think of it as a penalty. I just think they become valueless.

  19. says

    V interesting interview – I actually found this page from a search on ‘overflow:hidden’ which popped up in an earlier comment. I know it was too much to hope for that the interview itself would have included Matt Cutts endorsing negative text indent or overflow:hidden. I’m a bit worried now as I’ve seen it recommended (and used it myself on some sites) as a means of getting indexable text into a site branding div which would otherwise be an image only.

  20. says

    Thanks Eric for sharing this very engaging interview with Matt had some great insight into what Google might think is good linking practices.

  21. says

    Eric, thanks for such a great post , I really enjoyed it, actually reading this,It’s good to see these features coming from you ,you raise a very good point for the open and transparent community you and may of us, your readers, aspire to adopt and be a part of.

  22. says

    Great – I need clarification on these topics. But I am wondering if unpaid posting to relevant forums (with a signature file) is still an accepable practice.

  23. says

    Hi tn requin – Putting quality comments in forums is in general fine. If you do this in volume, you need to be careful how you go about it. The question is whether or not you are adding value to those forums. Lots of low quality comments would not meet the spirit of how Google would like you to do your link building.

  24. says

    that interview was awesome. With the things that you have discussed with Matt Cutts, i’ve learned about the following:
    1. Good link building strategy
    2. About Page Rank and paid links
    3. About SocialSpark – i’m a part of it right now
    4. and SEO techniques

  25. says

    Hello there,
    I may not have anything to say specially related to this page, but i just want to say that I’ve been reading for about 2 hours all the interviews you have in here and I want to thank you for all of this valuable information.
    Just making a comment here because for me it’s one of the interviews I liked most.
    thanks to you and to Matt for this info

  26. says

    Great interview, Eric, but…

    Matt is a smooth talker, but Google has become a massive bully and gets it wrong in ways that ruin businesses.

    The main problem is that Google used to assess things differently and caused the whole market to work by their old linking rules. Now that they’ve changed their mind, penalizing old practices and demanding that people undo things that are beyond their control (and sometimes beyond their knowledge) is just not realistic, but they do it anyway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *