Public Relations Lessons From Matt Cutts

Oct 6th
posted in

The latest video from Matt Cutts talks about the value of SEO to Google.

The questioner asks:

"Why does Google support SEO specialists with advice? Google's business is to sell text ads..."?

Matt explains that Google sees SEO helping, rather than hindering, their business model long term.

How?

SEOs create - and encourage site-owners to create - the very sites that Google's technology demands i.e. context accessible by an automated crawler, largely text based, and clearly marked up.

By having sites that jive well with Google's technology, this lowers Google's costs, and helps make Google results more relevant in the eyes of the end user. The larger their index, the more chances Google has to answer the query. SEOs love creating crawlable content!

This means the end user keeps coming back, which in turn translates to Google's bottom line.

It's also a good idea to give webmasters something, else Google risks an more adversarial relationship, which again can cause Google problems.

So SEO is good for Google's business - the "good" type of SEO, as defined by Google, of course.

Win-Win

Matt, as always, is giving the side of the story Google wants you to hear.

His position sounds reasonable, generous, and inclusive, and it is - in many respects. But make no mistake - Google aren't there for webmasters. Google will do what is good for Google. If SEO was bad for Google, Google would not be reaching out to the SEO community, in much the same way they don't reach out to, say, the malware writer community. They just stamp it out.

Matt is a master of public relations. Webmasters can learn a lot from Matt in terms of how to handle their own public relations challenges.

Here are a few pointers, based on Matt Cutts approach:

Public Relations Is Relations With The Public

Matt doesn't talk from on high. He doesn't talk at his audience. He talks with them. He attends events where his audience congregate, and he encourages interaction and questions. This activity serves to build a personal relationship, which helps make his messages easier to convey and sell.

Look for ways in which you can go *to* your audience/customers. Where do they hang out? Address them on their own terms, and in their own environment. Regularly encourage questions, criticism and feedback. When it comes time to announce new products and services, your audience is likely to be more receptive than if your communications are anonymous and sporadic.

Ok, this might be all very well for Matt Cutts. Everyone pays attention to Google, because Google are important. However, no matter how big or small your audience, you still must find a way to relate to them.

These days, it's not so much what people say, it's often who is saying it. Modern media is driven by personalities. The content of the message is seldom good enough to stick, unless it is truly remarkable.

People listen to Matt in ways they don't listen to an anonymous Google press release because of the personal relationship he has worked hard to establish. This works just as well for small businesses. In fact, this is one of the big advantages of a small business - the personal touch. Google is a big company, but they work hard to appear like a small one, at least in terms of their personal relations approach with webmasters.

Matt also gets out in front of issues. If there's something going on in the web community relating to his area, he's almost certainly quick to comment on it. By doing so, he can control and frame the conversation in terms that suit Google. If there are industry issues that relate to your work or company, use them as an opportunity to grab the spotlight. Try to become the media go-to person in your local community for issues by building relationships with media and news outlets.

PR consultants aren't quite as necessary as they used to be. They aren't redundant, but the most important lesson to learn from Matt Cutts is that PR is something you need to embody. It's not just a function that you slap on, or hire in, when it suits, and still be as effective. Make PR flow through all you do.

Matt's greatest skill is not making it look like PR at all.

Published: October 6, 2010

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Comments

October 8, 2010 - 4:52pm

Matt's greatest skill is his knowledge.
There are too many "SEO Experts" out there that think link-building is SEO.
Matt understands its about Stickiness, and content for humans.

October 9, 2010 - 12:41am

Cough. Link building is SEO. :D

Stickiness is no more of a strategy than link building is ... in fact, some of the stuff we offer makes 0 sales and sharply increases our server load, while also eating our time and polluting our communications channels with our paying customers.

No individual piece is a whole strategy...its bolting stuff together that creates a PROFITABLE business strategy.

October 11, 2010 - 3:12am

Who is even listening to "Matt Cutts"? He is a vital element of the Google propaganda machine, that's all.

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