When Matt Cutts graduated in 1990 from Rowan County Senior High School, he had no idea the effect he would have on his community, his nation, and even the world. Each and every day, the work that Matt does plays an integral role in how people learn, how they shop, and even how people live their daily lives.
Since January 2000, Matt Cutts, the son of David and Betty Cutts, has worked for Google, the Internet search company that has literally changed how people use the Internet. In fact, Google has almost become synonymous with the Internet. In the ten years that Cutts has worked for Google, he has seen the company grow from a staff of almost 100 to a worldwide company of over 20,000.
When asked how he made the decision to work for Google, Cutts almost immediately credited his wife, Cindy, for the “push” to accept the job offer and her support throughout his career. She even moved up their wedding date so they could make the move together from North Carolina to California, the home of Google’s headquarters.
Cutts laughed when he spoke of how Cindy’s baking prowess helped with the success of his first project at Google. After working for several months to develop a family filter that would screen for explicit content from getting through an Internet search, SafeSearch was ready to be tested. Cindy’s homemade cookies were offered as prizes to anyone on staff who was able to find these unacceptable sites while using the SafeSearch family filter.
Currently Cutts heads a group in the Search Quality team at Google. He and his team have worked on programs to make Internet searches better and easier and to reduce the amount of Webspam found while on various Internet sites. He also ensures that the website creators follow the guidelines put in place by Google to prevent “cheater sites” from being placed higher in ranking.
Computers and computer programming have been part of Matt Cutts’ life for many years. When his father brought home a Commodore 64 computer, he began learning how to write programs, even becoming part of the computer programming team at Rowan County Senior High School. This team won several championships, an honor that helped to pay for his college education. “Part of the prize was a scholarship to any college in Kentucky. It was definitely an incentive to start my college education here in Kentucky,” said Cutts.
When asked how Google has changed during his ten years with the company, Cutts responded by saying, “I truly think that the spirit of Google is the same today as it was when I first went to work for them in 2000. I have a sense of pride that I work for an ethical company, but I also go home with a sense of responsibility.” He went on to add, “We take our jobs very seriously at Google. No matter what people are searching for, whether it’s finding out about a disease or looking for a restaurant, millions of people every day are getting the search results they want because of our work.”
What would Matt Cutts say to today’s Rowan County students that are interested in working with computers or computer programming? He encouraged students to study hard, especially in their math, science and computer classes. Even the typing class that he took in high school has come in handy both during college and now at Google. “My mother made me take that class and now I’m glad she did. No more hunting and pecking on the keyboard!”
His most important advice, though, dealt with the willingness to take risks. “Don’t limit your horizons. You can start your own website that can reach out to the world,” said Cutts. “Just realize that you can make something no one else has seen before.”