Who Could Fill In for Matt Cutts?

SMS Text
Image credit: Shutterstock by Peshkova

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, recently posted some big news.

I wanted to let folks know that I’m about to take a few months of leave. When I joined Google, my wife and I agreed that I would work for 4-5 years, and then she’d get to see more of me. I talked about this as recently as last month and as early as 2006. And now, almost fifteen years later I’d like to be there for my wife more.”

Cutts says he’ll completely unplug, meaning that he won’t be checking his work email until October. (Side note: Anyone care to wager that he makes his re-entry debut at Pubcon?!)

Cutts stated that the Webspam team will be in “great hands,” but did not name a replacement. While the team can likely function without him, Matt was the very public face of the organization, publishing 1-2 videos a month in addition to speaking engagements.

Will Google’s webspam team really go 3 months without a spokesperson?

If Google did name someone to fill in, it would have to be someone who, in addition to the usual qualifications, is able to handle the constant barrage of scrutiny, criticism and even ad hominem attacks from the interwebs. Someone who has a proven track record of winning even when massively outnumbered.

The team at SEJ has come up with a list of candidates that could meet the formidable challenge…

John Mueller


Image Source: John Mueller/Google+

Current Role: Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst, Google
Bio: For over the last 6 years, Zurich native John Mueller has been working with the Webmaster Central, Sitemaps and Search Quality teams at Google. Mueller is regularly featured on the Google Webmasters Google+ page, as well as the Webmaster Help Groups. Prior to joining Google he ran a software company in Switzerland.
Pro: Very active in the Google community and has experience bringing different parties together, such as webmasters and engineers. He speaks on behalf of Google quite often.
Con: John is a strong contender. The only question is whether he could handle all duties from Switzerland or if he’d relocate to the Bay Area temporarily.

Brian White

BjN-0JuCIAAt3D2.jpg large

Image Source: Brian White/Twitter

Current Role: Program Manager, Search Quality (Webspam), Google
Bio: Employed with Google since 2003, White works within the Search Quality group. He has also spoken at industry events including Google I/O, Pubcon, Search Engine Room and SES.
Pros: Has extensive experience working with Cutts and the Webspam team.
Cons: Not really a con but apparently he has a withering sense of humor – see his response to WebDesign.org selling links.

Maile Ohye


Image Source: Maile Ohye/Google+

Current Role: Developer Programs Tech Lead, Google
Bio: After earning a B.A. in Cognitive Science with a Computer Science emphasis from the University of California at Berkeley. She joined Google in 2005 and works with Google’s Search and Webmaster Tools teams. A few of Maile’s projects have included rel=”canonical”, rel=”next” and rel=”prev” for paginated content. She’s spoken at SES and SMX in the past.
Pro: Seems comfortable with a public profile, has also written extensively on SEO.
Con: Seems to have stepped away from the public spotlight in recent years.

Michael Wyszomierski

BrEw2FeCIAAbVeo.jpg large

Image Source: Michael Wyszomierski/Twitter

Current Role: Product Quality Operations at Google
Bio: Wysz earned a degree in Film and Media Studies from John Hopkins University. Prior to joining Google in 2006, he spent his summers at Germantown Academy he did maintenance on computers and teach video production. He also worked at DVTime Studios on numerous media projects.
Pros: For starters, as his LinkedIn summary states, he hates “spam, scams, and other types of abuse, and I enjoy protecting people from them.” He also has spent the time discussing and sharing his knowledge on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, instructional YouTube videos and Webmaster Hangouts.
Cons: Would love to see Wysz’ great sense of humor and video production skills more on display in his own videos/Hangouts.

Gary Illyes

Current Role: Webmaster Trends Analyst for Google
Bio: Before getting hired by Google in 2011, Gary taught online journalism in Romania and abroad, technical consultant and helped webmasters troubleshoot web- and news-search related issues just for fun. He studied IT at the University of Phoenix and also earned an associate’s degree in journalism from the Ady Endre College of Journalism in Romania.
Pros: Prior to joining Google, Gary was a respected figure in the SEO community. He also has experience working on the Google Webmaster Central Blog and participating in Webmaster Hangouts.
Cons: Unclear how seasoned he is at public speaking or PR.

It’s a tough call… who would you pick?

Albert Costill
Albert Costill is a co-founder of evolvor.com and a freelance writer who has written for brands like ForRent.com and Search Engine Journal. When he’s not... Read Full Bio
Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • Michael Wyszomierski – is best for this, since he loves protecting us from scams, hackers and spammers. Hats off at you mate..

    • My vote goes with you Mr. Adam, Though i also think that Matt Cutts is someone non replaceable, but if yes in conditions like this… Michael Wyszomierski would be my preference.

  • I’m not sure your list is complete. I know at least one other search quality team member who’s tenure goes back to 2003 and would be capable in this capacity. However, Matt Cutts can’t just be replaced – he’s solidified a strong legacy whether or not he returns in October.

    • Dustin, would love names. We also missed Amit Singhal, who as SVP of Search (and Matt Cutts’ boss) certainly has the chops and cred to step in. Just a question as to whether he has the time to do it (unlikely?).
      I have to disagree that Matt (as good as he is) can’t just be replaced, even in an interim role. Google has one of the top talent pools in the world, in just about every discipline. If Matt was abducted by aliens, big G would no doubt have a list of very capable contenders to choose from who could slide into his shoes tomorrow.

  • thehockeygod

    Honestly, my money is on somebody from outside the organization.

  • Definitely, people are missing Matt, his videos are great resource. His sense of humor and spirit to take every question like a pro is something very appreciable.

    Since, a spokesperson is someone, we have all been very close, we feel the need to listen to someone who can do the justice. The aura can’t be replaced, but some gaps can be definitely be filled.

    For me, Greg would be the appropriate person, lets see if any of these guys actually gets to speak to the entire web. Anyway, I stumbled here via Kingged.

  • Would we really trust anyone wearing Google Glass? 😉 I kid, of course…..

  • Rank Watch

    My vote goes for – Maile Ohye. She is pretty good and can possibly take the post of Matt Cutts for time being.