Jason Calacanis Makes Matt Cutts A Liar

Last week at SMX West, during the Ask The Search Engines panel, moderator Danny Sullivan asked Matt Cutts why he didn’t ban Mahalo.com for spamming Google. Matt stated that he had talked to Jason Calacanis, Mahalo.com CEO, about the issues, and warned him that Google might “take action” if Jason didn’t make some changes to the spammy side of Mahalo. Matt also made the following statement, in reference to Aaron Wall’s post on the subject:

All the pages Aaron pointed out now have noindex on them. – Matt Cutts

Matt was referring to all of the autogenerated pages that both Aaron I blogged about in our posts, the ones with no user content whatsoever. A good example of these pages is this page on Aaron Wall himself, http://www.mahalo.com/aaronwall shagging, http://www.mahalo.com/shagging (note: see update #2 below). It is true, in fact, that right after Matt gave Jason a good talking to all of those pages did indeed have noindex added to them. I know. I checked myself. However

What Matt apparently does not know is that approximately 1 day after the noindex tags were added in, Mahalo.com actually started to lose some rankings (thus supporting my claim that it is all of those pages bolstering their rankings in the first place), and as soon as that happened Jason had the noindex tag removed again:


Missing noindex tag.
(Click to enlarge)


So the noindex tag existed just long enough for Jason to show Matt that they had made the change, then got yanked again. Matt made his statement on March 4th, long after the change had been undone, so obviously Jason didn’t bother to let Matt know that the change just didn’t work for him. Yes, Mahalo did turn off their spambot for now (and renamed the bot from “searchclick” to “stub”, since everyone knows what you name your spambot makes all the difference in the world), and he is working on getting more “original content” up on the site (more on that topic in my next post), but for now it looks like Jason has decided to continue to leverage his pure spam pages for rankings, regardless of what Google says.

Update: The post I mentioned about Jason’s new plan to replace the automated empty pages is live and can be found here:

Mahalo.com: Meet the New Spam, Worse than the Old Spam

Update #2: So apparently Jason decided to suddenly fluff out Aaron Wall’s page with actual content after reading this post, probably hoping that people would assume it was never a thin page to begin with. I added in a new link as an example of the pages I am referring to, and here are some more:


Since I assume Jason will probably try and hide those as well (instead of doing what he said he was going to do in the first place, and just remove or noindex them all en masse), here is a screenshot of what one looks like:

Missing noindex tag.
(Click to enlarge)

8 thoughts on “Jason Calacanis Makes Matt Cutts A Liar”

  1. I also noticed this snippet of code:

    if($(“#adsense_2719325”).parents(“#right-column”).length > 0 && !isImage){
    } else {

    Does that mean that he basically shows different content to people coming from search engines? Is that kosher?

  2. Thanks for the feedback/for kicking out ass.

    1. You will see nofollow on all short pages today (might take a day to get to all servers/clear cache).

    2. pages that have short content/low content have largely been deleted. There are <5k in the system and they are being built out in the next 15 days or so–or they will be deleted.

    3. These pages are search pages:

    4. The total impact of these changes was a reduction in traffic of about 6% and an increase in revenue of about 1-2%. These are early results, but it seems that these short pages were not ranking (or at the very least not ranking well) and were not very material. Why our revenue is going up I can't explain. From what I'm told the lower content pages can be a drag on revenue.

    5. We're going through every detail of our site design and workflow so that no one can create spam pages/short pages and have them indexed. This will take a couple of more days, but the system will essentially allow us to: a) let a user work on page with noindex on it until it is reviewed OR b) work on a page with noindex on it until it breaks a certain length (say 100 or 200 original words). This is sort of a bummer, since all the other systems out there (Wikipedia, suite101, associated content, ehow, Google's own blogger, Google Knol, etc) allow folks to create a page and be indexed from day one. I guess I'm going to have to get my ass kicked for all time since i said SEO is B.S. five years ago. So be it.

    At the end of the day the absurd microscope we're being put under by the SEO community is actually making our product better, and yes even improving the SEO of our best quality pages. For that, I thank you guys.

    That being said, you really don't have be so vicious about it.


  3. “I guess I’m going to have to get my ass kicked for all time since i said SEO is B.S. five years ago.”

    2010 minus 2008 =5 years? Sigh.. Can you, like, try to write a single sentence without it being a lie? Thanks.

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