Matt Cutts Ruins “Link Buying” Session at PubCon

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As most SEO specialists know, Matt Cutts — aka Google Search King — hates paid links. In fact, he has an all out war against link brokers like PayPerPost and Text Link Ads.

Unlike other search marketing conferences, PubCon is known for teaching the darker side of SEO and SEM. It’s been called the DEF CON of webmaster conferences, which is exactly why it attracts Matt Cutts. Consider Matt the equivalent of a federal agent, but out in the open, wearing his Google sheriff’s badge.

One of the highlights of PubCon Las Vegas 2007 this year was the session on Link Buying — at least it was until Matt showed up. The headlining panel of speakers included experts like Rand Fishkin, Aaron Wall and Jim Boykin. However, once they saw Matt in the back of the room, the panelists were too afraid to talk about anything interesting or important in regards to link buying. The best example of this was when Jim Boykin stood up to give his presentation, and basically told everyone he didn’t have anything to say.

In the back of the room — as this picture clearly captured — Matt Cutts took out a candy bar and crushed it in the palm of his hand, obviously signaling to the panelists that they would be next if they said the wrong thing.

Update: At Matt’s request, he wanted me to make it more clear to people that this entry was posted in the Humorous section. And indeed, this entry was 50% joke and 50% serious. Serious, only in the fact that I think some of the panelists’ presentations would have been a little different if Matt hadn’t been there. If anything, Rand’s presentation probably stuck the closest to what he was going to present, because it basically mimicked his link buying blog entry from earlier in the week. Oh, and lastly, this is just my opinion and impression of that session — which happens to be shared by many of the attendees I talked to.

23 Responses to “Matt Cutts Ruins “Link Buying” Session at PubCon”

  1. Hmm…watch out boys, here comes the momma…

    I can’t understand how can Google find if the review was a paid or not!

    For this the bloggers would have to keep few points in mind like not showing up those big banners of PPP or reviewme. Write posts about their niche. Review sites in their niche. Write a few non-review posts. Then let’s see how can Google find them?

  2. I thought the picture and caption was great. Shame that the panel didn’t teach you anything new! Do you have any suggestions on paid links to share? BTW, I liked the Def Con link and also your sidebar presentation of post data is sweet! Is that custom or a public plugin?

  3. Those of us up here at SES Chicago missed all the fun, alas. We had a couple of Google engineers in our session, but we still managed to point out some of the ten-mile wide swaths of gray in the paid link discussion (such as bundled pricing deals with traditional publishers that include “free dofollow” links on their web properties as part of the package).

  4. Matt Ridout

    Brilliant post I must say, made me laugh a bit. They should ban Matt from such events in future lol, or rufuse him entry if he has any candy in his pockets lol

  5. Paul McNamara

    Fishkin has a slightly different take on the matter, which you can read on my blog. He also didn’t see the candygram.
    Is Google’s Matt Cutts a PubCon party pooper?

  6. Man am I glad my business doesn’t rely on anything from Google…

    Matt C is nothing but a puppet and if paid links could hurt websites then we could buy links to competitors and they would disappear..

    That won’t happen….

    Time for some common sense to be applied.

  7. Karen Andrews

    good lord enough of this link buying mess. Google is going to continue to alienate themselves from webmasters if they keep up their threats. in the meantime, I am still buying links very carefully. I’ve also gone back to relevant link exchange which appears to work better than buying links.

  8. Matt Cutts

    Hi, this is Matt Cutts.

    Jon Henshaw, I believe your post was joking. If you notice, the post was filed under “Humorous.”

    I often take powerbar-type stuff to conferences in case I’m not able to grab lunch. I was just sitting in the back of the room eating one and talking to a fellow conference member; I didn’t even know someone was taking my picture, and certain I wasn’t trying to eat my protein bar in any kind of aggressive way. 😉

    Jon, it looks like a few people have taken your post seriously, as if I was actually trying to intimidate someone by eating a candy bar. If you intended this post to be humorous, could you make that a little more clear for readers? 🙂

  9. Matt Cutts

    Many thanks for making that more clear, Jon. I really liked your dry sense of humor, but just in case some folks didn’t get it, I appreciate you doing a quick update. 🙂

  10. Phew!
    Perhaps my browser was playing was playing up, but I could have sworn I saw an image of the Dark Mark on page load-up.
    Anyway I am glad you have sorted out this matter out with Mr ‘Sectumsempra’ Cutts. The picture looked more like he was going for his forearm not the food.
    At great risk I am linking to my incoherent website.
    Oh how the “perverted fear of violence puts a smile on every face” 🙂