​Cutts revisits webmasters notification issue and reaffirms 90 percent go toward black hat issues.

Cutts confirms black hat SEO drives webmaster notifications

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Google has been pretty transparent in how it handles black hat SEO content practices, and yet it seems many sites still try to pull a fast one on the search engine. Esteemed engineer Matt Cutts shares insights in YouTube videos regularly, answering questions from industry insiders and the average internet folk. In a video from February 13, 2013, Cutts spoke about the types of notifications Google sends out via Google Webmaster Tools. According to Cutts, Google issues thousands of messages each month to site owners – most are bad.

The message breakdown showed that 90 percent of notifications are black-hat related. Four percent highlight low-grade content, 3 percent underscore hacking instances, 2 percent flag paid link practices and 1 percent call out link selling initiatives.

In early December 2012, Cutts broached this same topic. He said rumors of Google sending nearly 700,000 messages to webmasters about unnatural linking strategies were false. The bulk of notifications aim to stop black hat practices, and only 3 percent went to site owners with unfavorable links.

It seems two months later, the same averages still apply, so why do internet users keep asking for the notification breakdown? Tell us what black hat practices you think Google looks to terminate the most in our comments section.

Ted Karczewski
Ted Karczewski is an Executive Communications Associate at Brafton. He works to develop his own voice and apply his passions to the evolving world of SEO and content marketing, but he doesn't shy away from writing for fun. After graduating from Suffolk University, Ted used his Communications degree to test out Sports Journalism before Marketing at Brafton.


  • Jordy Clements

    This may be a rather facile reading of the situation, but I think Google focuses on the easiest black hat practices to stamp out before attacking the more nuanced techniques. Duplicate content/scraping/article spinning, keyword/metatag stuffing, cloaking…those are low hanging fruit for the indexing bots.

    Short answer: don’t get on their bad side, it isn’t worth it.
    Longer answer: if you can afford to take the hit, only need short term traffic, have a gambler’s streak, or are a really, really smart cookie…well…play ball.

    I’d say Google is least likely to go after the techniques that require the most effort (complex paid link schemes, advertorials, etc.). The other stuff is rarely worth it when you could just pay someone to generate quality content for you…and I don’t just mean Brafton (though they’re clearly very capable). $100 spent on a college kid writing 500 words is better than $100 for a short term bump of poorly executed black hat stuff.

    • TedKarczewski

      Hi Jordy-

      I completely agree. However, I just read/wrote a piece about how Google continues to tighten its Penguin standards, so the company is going after more complex issues. Since its inception, Penguin has grown stronger and lets fewer black hat issues pass by its wrath. Check out this read for more information: http://www.brafton.com/news/new-study-says-googles-penguin-is-getting-stronger

      Thanks for reading!