It’s sad, but it appears as if Google has not changed its algorithm to discount John Chow’s review scheme.
It’s too bad. I rather liked the idea of Google taking some sort of action, based on their distaste of paid and solicited links. It would have kept things interesting, and forced bloggers to be more creative in their reciprocal linking. A sign of continued evolution, if you will.
A few days after dropping out of the #1 slot for “make money online” in Google, John’s blog is back in #1. Despite promising to share how he did it, John cops out and simply hints that Google’s webmaster tools are your friend. Note that I’m deliberately not linking to his post, since he provides no useful information beyond that hint.
Over at the SEO Refugee, amid a rant about self-proclaimed SEO experts, is some information on a possible cause of JohnChow.com’s drop from the #1 spot. Apparently John recently heavily modified his robots.txt file.
For those of you new to running websites, the robots.txt file contains hints to search engines. You can ask Google, for example, to not look at certain pages on your website. John had a post recently detailing robots.txt changes needed to prevent Google from seeing too much duplicate content on your WordPress blog. Shortly after that post, he dropped out of the #1 spot for “make money online”.
The hint John dropped makes sense if you assume that a change to his robots.txt caused Google to stop seeing many of his pages. Google’s webmaster tools have a robots.txt analysis tool that allows you to evaluate potential changes in your robots.txt file and see what effect it would have on Google’s ability to see your web pages.
Seems like the kind of thing he should have done before making sweeping changes.
So John screwed up his ratings in Google by changing his robots.txt file, and fixed it by removing those changes and allowing Google to everything, duplicate content and all. Since his site is no doubt crawled daily by Google, it would not have taken much time for this change to push him back into the #1 position for “make money online”.
What do you think? Is this the final answer, or is there something else involved? We might as well speculate, it’s unlikely John will share the info.