United Airlines Employee May Have A Role In Matt Cutts Helping Webmasters With Google

The last company I would have thought been any type of influence on Matt Cutts wanting to spend time helping webmasters with their Google questions would have been United Airlines.

But in a Quora thread, Matt Cutts, who is now with the U.S. Digital Service team, but the former Google web spam lead, said it was a United Airlines employee that may have triggered him into that role.

He said:

I had read a book called The Cluetrain Manifesto that included a story of an employee at United Airlines answering questions and helping people. Later I saw a few people discussing Google on a webmaster forum, including a few conspiracy theories like “If you buy Google ads, you’ll rank {higher, lower} on Google.”

I asked Google’s PR team if it would be okay if I occasionally answered some questions or debunked misconceptions on that webmaster forum, and they said yes. So I registered an account as “GoogleGuy” on Oct. 8, 2001 and started replying and answering questions in my free time. I think I eventually chalked up 2800+ posts on that forum. I had already helped the PR team with a couple Google stories, and I was working in an area (webspam/search) where I could often assist on incoming questions.

So between knowing the area and getting a lot of communications practice online, I kind of backed into the role. From posting on that webmaster forum, I started my blog in 2005 so I could answer questions with a permalink under my control. Then eventually we started doing webmaster videos. External communications became my unofficial 20% project, even though search quality and webspam were always my highest priorities.

The person behind GoogleGuy was a mystery for years. That all changed when Google became more public and transparent about search. Now there is are teams at Google devoted to do what Matt Cutts did in his 20% time.

Overall, I think we are better off now.

I will say it again, I do miss Matt Cutts. Don’t get me wrong, I love the webmaster trends team but I do think we have a bit of a void with Cutts gone. Having John, Gary, Maile and others with Matt Cutts is much better than without Matt Cutts.

Forum discussion at Quora.

Image credit to Thos Ballantyne who I also miss seeing.

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Author: barry@rustybrick.com (Barry Schwartz)

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