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April 10, 2007

Matt Cutts Interviewed

When I started this group of interviews with leading search engine marketers, I realized I had a strong selection of people from the organic search side, some great PPC specialists, and outstanding industry observers. What I was missing was anyone from the search engines. So, I approached Matt Cutts about participating. With all the tradeshows, conferences, and travel, not to mention the actual daily work at Google which Matt does, I knew it was a longshot, and that his finding time would be a challenge. Graciously however, Matt agreed.

I’ve met Matt a couple of times at tradeshows and conferences over the years, most recently at SES London in February. Wherever he goes, a throngs of people seem to follow. Unlike others, the speakers’ room at shows and conferences does not offer much peace and quiet, it’s just a different band of questioners coming at him. But he seems to thrive on the constant questioning, takes note of what’s being asked, and follows up. I believe that he is one of Google’s big marketing assets; There’s no doubt that he’s contributed tremendously to why Google is so well liked in the Internet Marketing industry today. He’s affable, approachable, entertaining, and provides solid information in responses to queries.
Cognizant of Matt’s time constraint, I only forwarded him a few short questions, including two from interviews run as part of this series. I hope you’ll enjoy his responses.
Q. Matt, how long were you developing, and writing code prior to joining Google?
I was a geek going back a long time. I used to hack out little programs on a Commodore 64 and a Sinclair/Timex ZX81 before that. So I did code for a while before joining Google.
Q. Personalization appears to be the biggest change in search; what other big change do you foresee over the next 18 months?
I think Google will keep looking at new and interesting types of data to search for users. I think Google will also try to communicate even more with webmasters and SEOs. We’ll be ramping up even more on lots of languages besides English, too.
Q. Personalization appears to build a profile of the user, based on their primary location. This affects the results travelers receive. How can a user compensate for this?
One of the ways that we compensate for this is letting people log in. That way, a user can access the same account and settings even if they go to a new location. That’s a really great way to improve search quality when we know a little more about users.
Q. Why don’t you understand me? (how will context be improved?)
Google is getting better at this. We can learn more by ramping up document understanding, query understanding, and even understanding concepts written in different languages. For each of these, the more data you have, the more you can improve search quality.
Q. Does it bother you that algorithm is spelled with an “i” rather than a “y”?
I guess it never occurred to me. I remember the first person that I heard use the word algorithm though. I remember thinking that they were kind of geeky. I don’t know what it says about me that I use that word all the time now.

Author:  Richard Zwicky is the founder and CEO of Enquisite Search Engine Analytics. He is also a founder of Metamend Search Engine Optimization.