Dear Matt Cutts, What We Have is a Failure to Communicate

Dear Matt Cutts, I know you and I don’t always see eye to eye on everything, but I think we’ve got enough of a working relationship that I feel comfortable saying, that the way the brand update/ Vince change, went down could have been better. Indulge me while I make an analogy to prove a point.

Let’s assume I live in an apartment, I come home one day go to turn on my bathroom light, and nothing happens. I call up the building superintendent, and tell him my bathroom light is broken. The superintendent comes to take a look, and chances are instead of telling me “my bathroom light is broken” he’ll come back with one or more ot the following:

  • broken light switch
  • faulty wiring
  • broken lighting fixture
  • broken bulb

Now the superintendent’s definition and diagnosis is much more technical, and accurate than “my bathroom light is broken“, however he’s comfortable with the working definition of “my light is broken“, and isn’t trying to deny what I can clearly see, back to the world of SEO.

Aaron Wall spoke about a change he noticed that seem to favor brands, which for lack of a better term became known as the “brand update”. You went into the “this is not an update” or “there was no brand update” mode, to be honest it was annoying and frustrating. Finally you released a video acknowledging that yes something had happened.


First of thanks for for the video, it really helped, but let’s get onto the real problem here. Inside of google you need to be specific, I’m quite sure in your world there is huge amount of difference between an update and what you’re calling “the Vince change”. It’s the same way there’s a world of difference between a lightbulb being burned out and faulty light switch, they are completely different things with identical end results. However in our world we don’t have access to those terms, for lack of anything more granular or specific, we’re stuck with word “update“, or the equivalent of “my bathroom light is broken“.

When you go around stating there was no update (your definition), when we can clearly see there was an update (our definition), we’ve got a problem. It looks like you’re trying to perform some Jedi mind trick, if you keep repeating there was no update and waving your hand eventually we’ll all believe you. Even worse it’s like you’re trying to tell us what we’re seeing isn’t really there and this is one of those “these aren’t my pants officer” moments from cops.

Let’s try to see if we can make things work a little better going forward, here are some suggestions on how things can improve.

Use our working definition of  “update”, if that doesn’t work provide us with a list of other terms we can/should use, that work for everyone. We’re human beings we need to name things to communicate about them, nature abhors a vacuum, so if you don’t tell us what works for you, we’re going to use our own labels.

De-Nile is a big river in Africa, it’s got no use here, and doesn’t help anyone. Going the Philadelphia lawyer route of truthfully answering the very specific question, while avoiding the intent of the question is very frustrating. I hoped you saw that first hand at the SMX personailzed search panel you attended.

Use “weather reports” the way yahoo does again, it just opens up the lines of communication so we all know we’re talking about the same thing.

I think I’m pretty safe saying the search community is hoping to work with you, so we can all communicate better with each other, because right now what we have is failure to communicate. runs on the Genesis Framework

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