John Chow Dissed by Google?

I was doing a Google search on “make money online” today, as part of research for this blog (you never know what you’ll find through search engines), and was surprised to see that JohnChow.com was not in the top 2. Paging down, I finally found John’s site on page 4.

Considering the success of John’s review scheme to spread links to his site with the “make money online” anchor text around the Internet like dandelion seeds in a stiff wind, this is an interesting development. I can only assume that something fairly recent changed in John’s site to cause it to drop in the Google rankings.

This brings up a couple of great points for everyone involved in search engine optimization.

First, don’t be afraid to go for competitive keywords. Google’s algorithm changes all the time, and sites change all the time. Sometimes there’s a conflict between those that knocks the top positions down or moves lower positions up.

Second, search engine optimization is an ongoing effort. You can’t simply optimize a site for keywords and then leave it alone. You need to keep track of your positioning and react to changes to maintain your position. Pages get dropped from the index or put into the supplemental index and you’ll need to fix it. Keeping on top of SEO is a moving target.

I have no doubt that John will figure out what happened and fix it soon. Hopefully he’ll blog about it to let the rest of us know.

Edit: John just posted in his blog (see link above) about this, and is blaming a change in Google’s algorithm. Since Google has been talking about their plan to discount paid links, John’s review scheme probably falls under that category, so he’s discontinued it. My contest is still on, however. I’ll be adjusting how I do the backlinks to make it appear more natural to search engines.

8 Replies to “John Chow Dissed by Google?”

  1. To run something like this safely, don’t post backlinks in batches of 10. Instead, post mini-reviews of the sites that review you, one to a post. This would make it more difficult to tell that it’s a review scheme.

  2. [quote]I was doing a Google search on “make money online”[/quote]

    Don’t take this the wrong way, but I just got this image of all these “make money online” bloggers obsessively typing their keywords into Google. They were doing this to check their positions in the search engine, not to search for other sites (unless they were checking out the competition). There were so many make money online bloggers checking their SEO placements, that the keywords became more valuable.

    It became a big feedback loop. The result was a whole universe of make money online bloggers trying to make money from each other, driving up the value of the keywords in an organic fashion.

    It struck me as funny. Sort of an inside-out Bertrand Russell paradox. Everyone is trying to form a club with everyone but himself as a member.

  3. That’s probably not too far from the truth! Most of the Internet marketing gurus make their money from that “make money online” crowd, not from marketing to the regular public.

  4. I just checked. John Chow was at PR 7. But even ProBlogger.net got swatted by Google on this re-ranking – down to PR4 as well. But it looks like he’s appealed it – I’ve got some of the Google data centers registering PR6 for him.

  5. Yes, this change was more of a general penalty for sites that seemed to be gaming the page rank system than a penalty specific to John’s site. It’ll take a while for Google to get it exactly right.

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