Aaron Wall Interviews Matt Cutts

Aaron Wall of SEO Book (who BTW, happens to be a great guy and really cares about helping out others) recently interviewed Matt Cutts, an engineer at Google who is pretty well-known in the SEO community. In particular, I’d like to highlight one Q&A from the interview:

Is all SEO spam?

Absolutely not–I need to do a post about this on my blog sometime. Lots and lots of search engine optimization is white-hat and not spam at all. Things like making a site more crawlable, tweaking the words on a site based on what users type in or what you see in your server logs, and gathering links by coming up with creative ideas or services that make people link to you naturally. To me (and Google), spam is search engine optimization that is outside our quality guidelines–things like hidden text, hidden links, doorway pages filled with gibberish words that do a sneaky JavaScript redirect, and so on.

Personally, I have a theory that some spammers want everyone practicing solid, common-sense SEO to believe that they’re spamming, or that everyone is a black hat. To me, that fails at first blush; was I a spammer for changing the word “howto” on a page to “how to,” because more people type it the second way? Of course not. I have a similar theory about doing spam reports–why would someone who claims that they will use any trick in the book whatsoever then turn around and try to convince people not to do spam reports? Those two beliefs (“I’ll do anything to get ahead in rankings” and “Don’t report a competing site that is using spam tactics”) aren’t especially consistent. There’s a lot more nuance that I’d like to go into sometime, but I’ll throw those points out there for people to discuss. :)

Phew. I love hearing that reassurance. :)

Please do go read the whole interview – as its a well worthwhile read.