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What has been the biggest surprise of 2012 for you and your spam team?

What has been the biggest surprise of 2012 for you and your spam team? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

SPEAKER: Today we have a great question from Daniel Roofer, who asks, what has been the biggest surprise of 2012 for you and your spam team? That’s a good one. I would probably say the sheer number of people who continue to be snookered by snake oil salesmen products– sometimes that you can find on web forums– that promise to instantly rocket you to number one. I would expect in 2012 that people would be a little bit more skeptical about that, especially after we do a pretty good job of finding various link networks, different ways of spam, and Google, all that sort of stuff. If I were to come to you and say, I have a foolproof, money back guarantee, idiot proof way, to make money on Wall Street. You just give me $500 a year, or $500 a month, or $99. And I will guarantee that you’ll make money on Wall Street. How would you react to that? You would probably be a little skeptical, right? You’d think, well, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. And I think that’s the right reaction. Because if there were a guaranteed way to make money on Wall Street, you would use that to make money on Wall Street. Rather than selling that technique to other people who hope to make money on Wall Street. So a lot of the times black hat guys will use a particular technique, and when it looks like it’s reaching the end of its lifespan, they’ll package it up. They’ll sell it to you in an ebook. Or they’ll sell it to you as a script package, or a recurring service, or a link network that you can subscribe to. I’m like, I don’t get why people would believe this? They’re like, well there’s two other guys on the forum who say that it’s great. And it’s like, well their named dog fart junior, and black hat assassin, and the package that you’re thinking about buying is to spam forum software. You think those guys don’t know how to make sock puppet accounts that say, yeah this is great. Has anybody else used it? I love it. It’s like, just be a little skeptical, right? And the craziest parts are the people who are like, well the last set of domains that I contributed into the kitty, they got burned to the ground. But this time the guy says it’s completely undetectable by Google. And he realizes how Google caught him. And this time he’s totally changed everything. And there’s no way Google can catch him. That guy doesn’t know how Google caught his domain. He has no idea the different techniques or tools that we’re using. He’s taking his best guess. And so the fact that people not only lose money, or lose domains, but then they’re like, oh OK, this time for real. Let’s go chip in again. At some point, especially if you’re on some random web forum, or black hat forum, or wherever, and somebody’s like, I have a foolproof way to make money. Just give me your money. That’s when you should be a little bit skeptical. So that continues to be a surprise to me. It’s at the point where if people just decided– and we’ve seen this, where a few people on Twitter will say, if you look at the money involved, it’s cheaper and easier and more sustainable over time to go white hat. And to keep changing the algorithm, and trying to put in the money such that you can fly under the radar. And I think if that’s not true now, that equation is absolutely going to keep moving in the direction towards things that are more sustainable. Rather than churn burn domains, and churn and burn techniques. So it’s a surprise to me that people will continue to read these things long testimonials where it’s like, postscript, post postscript, post post postscript, and they’re 40 pages long. And by the end it you’re like, well of course I’m going to give this guy money. Just think twice whenever you’re presented with an offer like that. Because sometimes when something looks too good to be true, it is too good.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


Original video: