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Why We Rank #1 for 'John Chow' and Why You Shouldn't Mess With Google





If you came to this article looking for ways to “Make Money Online”, you came to the right place. If you were searching for John Chow, and ended up here you must be wondering how we are the first result and if it makes sense.
It appears Google hasn’t been too happy with Mr. Chow’s link building campaign and if you read the article linked above, you already know why John himself is not the first result. But is it fair and does it make sense for you to be sent here for an explanation?
chris jcggoogle Why We Rank #1 for 'John Chow' and Why You Shouldn't Mess With Google
While it is humorous to note that John doesn’t rank anywhere in the first 3-4 pages of the results for his name, it also makes sense. Google is directing anyone searching for John to an article pointing out why he is being punished, i.e. because of his questionable link building tactics. Of course the change is intentional on Google’s part and not in the least unfair. If you look at Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, you will note the following:

Some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying links in order to improve a site’s ranking is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.

John’s blog is essentially about making money online, but he sets a very bad example for his audience. John states “you should never pull all your eggs in Google’s basket,” this is very true, but many aspects of his revenue are dependent upon his Google page rank. Text-link-ads and ReviewMe are bringing in a large portion of his revenue, but to think that page rank doesn’t help sell these ads is ludicrous. John also would not have all the links from the “make money online” link-back campaign had he not been a pr6 domain.
Bloggers should learn from John’s mistake and not try to bite the hand that feeds them. Gaming Google just isn’t worth it, because true long term success comes from genuinely good content. While Google may eventually restore John to his previous standing, in the meantime the search engine is certainly making clear to not only John but anyone out there listening to his advice that they are monitoring it and will not tolerate abuse.

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83 thoughts on “Why We Rank #1 for 'John Chow' and Why You Shouldn't Mess With Google

  1. Buying links in order to improve a site’s ranking is actually intrinsic to Google’s business!
    Well perhaps not rankings but people are buying links (ads) on Google to gain prominence.
    On the basis of the quoted text above, are TLA violating Google’s guidelines?

  2. @Bruce,
    If I’m not mistaken, with TLA, assuming you are buying the links for exposure, then its fine. However, if you buy the links for SEO purposes, then it’s against Google’s policies.

  3. Totally true. It makes me wonder: people spend so much time trying to outsmart the search engines. If they spent the same time, and energy, on actually building the quality of their websites or blogs, it’d be a lot more beneficial to them, and to their readers.
    Regarding Text-Link-Ads, how does Google know if people are buying links to get traffic or for SEO?

  4. I like John Chow however I have been very critical of his link building methods, specifically the ‘make money online’ campaign you mentioned.
    I am disappointed with Google though. Their job is to provide the searcher for the most relevant result so if John Chow isn’t in the top 3 results they are clearly doing something wrong.
    Bottom line, I dont think people should game google but I believe Google has to rise above petty differences and list what is the most relevant result.

  5. “but many aspects of his revenue are dependent upon his Google page rank.”
    “page rank” – you mean PageRank?
    His site won’t lose any PageRank, unless he’s buying links. The penalty for link selling is having your site turn into Wikipedia, which isn’t much of a penalty since Wikipedia hasn’t lost out on much by having almost all outbounds nofollowed.
    “Buying links in order to improve a site’s ranking is actually intrinsic to Google’s business!”
    Google never said you can’t sell or buy links. Google is telling you “don’t screw with our search results.” Time is better spent manipulating their results without getting burned than arguing whether or not its ok to screw with their results.

  6. @Halfdeck
    The point I’m referring to is that some advertisers will take into consideration the sites PageRank, and will opt to advertise with this site to get links from a pr6.

  7. John Chow still comes up #1 in Yahoo, MSN, and Ask. So perhaps he’s right – you shouldn’t rely solely on Google.

  8. “The point I’m referring to is that some advertisers will take into consideration the sites PageRank, and will opt to advertise with this site to get links from a pr6.”
    Chris, I know. My point is those advertisers will keep paying John Chow because as far as they can tell, the pages their links are on will not lose PageRank.

  9. To me, it’s not the smartest move to go against the hand that feed you. Unless you are pretty sure you have another arm/leg/feet that work just as well. Currently, I really dun think there’s any other search engine out there, that’s quite like Google.
    Secondly, a little SEO will do you a lot of good to get onto Google already. But too much of it, then you are messing with Google’s search results. And Big Daddy really dun like people messing around in their backyard. :P
    My advice > earn your dough quietly and if you are ZzzzZZz with the boss’s wife dun do it in e front yard! Lol..

  10. Another thing that I doubt these advertisers consider is that he clearly has a penalty. Do you think Google are still passing the same juice to those advertisers now?
    And to those people involved in his link scheme….
    Take a step back, would YOU REALLY link to a site with a penalty? How does that make YOU look?

  11. John Chow started the linkback for a review program months ago, well before he hit PageRank 6. Please TRY to get your facts straight before you publish, OK?

  12. John went to a pr4 in April, and states himself how much more valuable this made him to Text-Link-Ads and ReviewMe. Personally I don’t think his “make money online” campaign would have been as successful had he stayed a pr4, but you are welcome to disagree.
    The point wasn’t that he had been a pr6, and this made him successful. The point was to show that Google PageRank partially controls how much money you will make from services like ReviewMe or Text-Link-Ads, and you don’t want to mess with them.

  13. On April 28, 2007 John announced his jump to PR6. On that same day he published his 61 “review my blog for a link” post. Since then he has posted a total of 87 batches.
    Let’s see 87 minus 61 equals… 26. So, more than two thirds of the “review my blog for a link” articles were written BEFORE he went to a PR of 6!!!
    Yes, Page Rank and Alexa BOTH have a huge impact on how much money you can charge for advertising. Everyone who tries to make money on line knows that! That is part of the problem. Why should Google be a determining factor in advertising pricing?

  14. You make a valid point, and it perplexes me as to why John has been receiving so many links. My thoughts were most people wanted to receive a link from a pr6, but that doesn’t seem to be the factor.
    Agree with you Google shouldn’t be a factor in advertising pricing.

  15. See this is garbage. So their IS a penalty for buying links. Before we were lead to believe that those “bought” links would be ignored i.e not factored into the algo for the website. Nope. This example is now a clear statement if you buy links they will demote you by hand. So Google which is it? Will you ignore and still rank equally or will you demote all those who buy links? My guess is the later if you catch them.

  16. I am not surprised that they penalized him. If they didnt about 300 more people including people reading this would be doing the same thing. But Google is getting a little too much like the “web police”. They seem to tell people what to do and how to market, and how to advertise. They need to back off and remember what the web is about. Maybe a slight Google slap like dropping him to PR5 and let the rankings be whatever they are. Not ranking on your name is weird for a PR6. But think of all the free publicity. I bet this will be his best month ever.

  17. What I can’t figure out is that Google’s policy doesn’t seem to address (that I can see) review-me type link trades. While I’m not a big fan of John Chow, I’m not sure that his system-gaming is any more worthy of punishment than people who get tons of links from making something viral or funny that hits the front page of social networking sites.
    Speaking of John Chow, also see: JohnBuffalo, Johnhow, Johncow, and Joncow – all dot com.

  18. Of all the millions and millions of websites on the web why John Chow?
    Why should Google single out any one webmaster to be penalised and served up as an example of bad S.E.O practices.
    If John Chow gives a link back as a link bait offer how can that be bad for the rest of us and how can it an be insiduous act against “GOOGLE MAGOG” because he uses link bait tactics to give a much needed lift to many a webmaster.
    The PR6 rating obtained by John Chow’s Blog wasn’t because of the unfair practice of acquiring links or offering link exchanges for that matter, something else is involved, and I for one suspects envy and a plethora of bad minded attitude by far less competent webmasters who can bear to see success achieved by others.
    There is nothing more in this than John Chow’s competitors rifing in their own pity and decided to have a field day by reporting to Google the “evil advice and tactics” purported as “illegal practices” contrary to the “snow white” webmaster guidelines put out by Google.
    How else could Google put the “drop” on JohnChow dot Com without the help of the bad minded webmasters who would “kill off” another man’s work without a second thought of the consequences and the negative publicity that will follow as penalty for breaking a few silly rules.
    It’s a conspiracy mein…
    John Chow rocks, he’ll be back and somehow unshakable than before.

  19. you are a looser did not link john cow in your article even if I am looking his site, cant find it.

  20. I still can’t believe that he doesn’t show up on the first few pages even today. Like you said, it is best not to mess with Google. It will always come back to bite you in the long run!

  21. I still can’t believe that he doesn’t show up on the first few pages even today. Like you said, it is best not to mess with Google. It will always come back to bite you in the long run!

  22. This reminds me of the day when everyone would build link exchange pages.
    At least we can learn from John’s mistake.
    Congrats on your #1 “John Chow” listing.
    BeachBum

  23. Personally I’m soured on Google anyway, their search is now just on par with everyone else, publishers HATE them, Advertisers don’t trust them, I mean come on, they charge advertisers money but won’t tell the publishers on which the ads appear, how much the revenue split is.. Other ADVERTS tell the the percentage of the split,, …anyway, what is really disturbing is the tone of this article, the author makes it sound like Google’s god and better not be toyed with, it just points out how brain-washed people are into thinking Google’s the best search engine, when in fact they are not, Live.com gives you WAY better results, significantly in terms of image results. Bottom line Google was great 4 years ago but have grown old and stagnant, that’s why they’ve been buying like crazy because their home grown efforts are pathetic, Youtube started with way less money and resources yet Google couldn’t compete?, like I said their own efforts are garbage,,Does anyone use Google IM, anyone?…anyone? , Google’s like Michael Jackson, yeah you were great once! , but you can’t live forever off of one big success, in fact type in “Google Sucks” in Google and you’ll see what I mean. And to the dude that wrote this puff piece, when your the last one in the room of the “The Lets Praise Google” party, please turn out the lights. Thank You.

  24. But Google doesn’t hand massage their results right? That’s what they keep telling us over and over. Why is it that one of the competitors in my space has paid links on something like 15,000 sites and still have a PR4 and rank #1 on the linked term. Oh yeah, because they didn’t blog about it and piss off Cutts.

  25. You need to change your site’s name in Why We Rank #2 for ‘John Chow.” You’re not #1 anymore, johncow.com is.

  26. John has some tactics that may seem ify but I woudl not say do not do it. there is a differance between abuse and using clever methods to get traffic.

  27. Yes, I used to patronise Google for what it was worth – not anymore. Its about time it quite being the Big Daddy of the Internet – we shouldn’t be told how to design our websites!
    The World Wide Web is not Google’s private property that they can assert how webmasters should design/code their websites.
    It seems a lot like how it would look if your boss wanted to decide how your house should look like!
    Down with Google. I’m all for Yahoo!

  28. Well your run at #1 is over and John has once again regained his #1 position for his own name. So indeed, it looks like in the end John will win.

  29. “But Google doesn’t hand massage their results right? That’s what they keep telling us over and over. ”
    This is the strange thing. Google is clearly “massaging” their results by banning Text Link Ads. I can’t say that it bothers me to see Text Link Ads gone from Google, but it does bother me that Google is clearly dipping their hand into their results

  30. What’s incredible is that all this banter is great for John Chow whether positive or negative because it shows how popular his site has become. He must be doing something right.

  31. The reason Google is slamming bought links without no-follow is they are so clearly a violation of their webmaster guidelines. Two things will happen –
    1) People will continue to try and manipulate search results like Mr Chow, create networks where their is an obvious linking pattern of bought links and will be discredited.
    2) Smart people will create blogs, web based tools and services that the new generation of web users want and will such all of the link juice out of these bought PR domains
    3) We will all have a big party.

  32. “July 12, 2007 — people spend so much time trying to outsmart the search engines. If they spent the same time, and energy, on actually building the quality of their websites or blogs, it’d be a lot more beneficial to them, and to their readers”.
    I don’t know, I spend a massive amount of time creating content for my website – I have over 12 years of information on a specific niche – news and information on Kazakhstan and Central Asia, and I add more everyday. I hardly have any time to do much development right now, including SEO, other than adding key words. But despite our massive content, we don’t come up first for many keywords. What am I doing wrong?
    Joe

  33. Google has chosen to finally make someone the example. It only makes sense to use someone that has some name recognition. The point here is that dark gray SEO tactics are even more harmful than blackhat because so many people can easily justify using them and not “see” the harm. Play with fire and you are gonna get burned.
    BTW you guys are not #1 anymore for John Chow I noticed.

  34. I’d have to say you might want to check the Google listings again. JohnChow.com is now rated #1. Maybe he changed some of his tactics, I don’t know.

  35. he is #1 right now…ive learn and still learning SEO =) but i think that will be more respectfull if we wisely optimizing and not try to do a dirty trick to gain a better pagerank…still for me…my webs are still from human for human =)) *main purpose is for informing each other not confusing/trap each others*

  36. Who knows what the future will bring? Maybe a year from now Not John Chow will rank #1 for John Chow. I doubt it though.
    Google will continue to dominate the blogosphere in the immediate future.
    I am sure John Chow will be up and down in Page Rank as google becomes more Big Brother Like.

  37. I had the same problem with a site that provides my main monthly income. The difference was I wasn’t doing anything wrong but my site dropped drastically. Fortunately after about 3 months it came it came back to ranking high in Google results again!

  38. Well true quality of content goes down because of people trying to mess with Google, well not in all cases but sometimes yes.

  39. John Chow does not need Google! He is bigger than Google..:) He is bragging that he makes 20k a month of his blog! If I were making such money of my blog, I would say Fuck Matt Cutts and Fuck Google! But, I think John Chow is Full of Shit!
    John Chow is an Idiotic Troll. Go watch his new video and some guy’s story about being offered a Whore in Korea! If I were a girl, I would not Fuck the guy if he paid me..:)
    And who is John Cow? He ranks first when Googling John Chow?
    I feel sorry for the Chow Dude, he is Lamer than Lame!
    Sorry for all the F words, but I have not ranted like this on anyone yet..:)
    John Chow you better be nice to Dr. Evil Matt Cutts and Evil Google before they deindex you and you going to be collecting aluminum cans in a shopping cart. 20k a month! Wishful thinking!

  40. The JohnCOW site was first on the list when I looked, I accidently clicked it. Oh, I just noticed the guy above me noticed that too lol.
    I would rather be stable with the most popular search engine than earn a couple extra grand per month. Staying #1 with Google is more stable in my opinion.

  41. The JohnCOW site was first on the list when I looked, I accidently clicked it. Oh, I just noticed the guy above me noticed that too lol.
    I would rather be stable with the most popular search engine than earn a couple extra grand per month. Staying #1 with Google is more stable in my opinion.

  42. The JohnCOW site was first on the list when I looked, I accidently clicked it. Oh, I just noticed the guy above me noticed that too lol.
    I would rather be stable with the most popular search engine than earn a couple extra grand per month. Staying #1 with Google is more stable in my opinion.

  43. If I were making $30k per month from my blog, I think I wouldn’t mind ranking 3rd or 4th for my name. It may have a long term impact on him, but if his network continues to drive traffic to his site then the impact of Google will be lessened.

  44. Really?
    In my list, you are second in Google actually, and Chow is first. At last, thats not bad for an article thats some months old.
    But he is first with his name, as I am with my name.
    Just have a look for “Donneker” or Stefan Hummert. Yeah, you ll see me :-)
    Actually listing for names doesnt matter, because almost noone searches for names, and if he search for it, then its because he already know of it.
    OK, nice article though.

  45. Google is just racist against Chinese people. There are hundred of SEO people out there doing the same thing as John Chow but they are not punished. China boycott Google!

  46. F..k Google, those idiots should have never showed up in the internet in the first place!
    It’s because of the experience they gathered by applying those sneaky tactics themselves that they know how to detect anyone who does it and know the best way to punish them.
    I’ll say it again: “the experience they gathered by applying those sneaky tactics themselves”.
    I feel so angry that no one can do unto them what they do unto others.

  47. F..k Google, those idiots should have never showed up in the internet in the first place!
    It’s because of the experience they gathered by applying those sneaky tactics themselves that they know how to detect anyone who does it and know the best way to punish them.
    I’ll say it again: “the experience they gathered by applying those sneaky tactics themselves”.
    I feel so angry that no one can do unto them what they do unto others.

  48. PLEASE FORWARD TO GOOGLE MANAGEMENT!!!
    I wanted to look at the John Chow website on June 5th, 2008 to recommend something to a colleague (I work in the medical/health industry in Vancouver, BC for a large health authority). Instead of finding the website I searched for, although I typed in the exact name, I got several websites denigrating John Chow with ridiculous parodies of his website.
    Whatever disagreements Google might have with John Chow, it is NOT APPROPRIATE to air this through the net in this manner. Firstly, we as consumers loose respect for Google and secondly, it scares us off from Google because of the perceived threat that Google could one day target any of it’s websites with this kind of childish, blanket hate mongering.
    GOOGLE IS THERE TO PROVIDE A SERVICE AS A DIRECTORY AND SEARCH ENGINE. It is not there to throw mud in public against websites that have ACTUALLY helped Google to become more popular. There is a lot of material on the internet and hosted by Google that is awful, questionable, inane, rude, and lewd. Google does not target those websites or take them offline, or muddle with their page ranks!!!
    THERE IS NO FAVORITISM IN THIS COMPLAINT. I take neither side of the Google vs. John Chow issues. My point is I am highly disappointed in Google for letting this ripple out into it’s main service – which equals BAD SERVICE on Google’s part. If I want to look at John Chow’s website I should be able to find it easily. If Google has a dispute with John Chow it should deal with it privately by direct communication or legal means.
    To Google Management – PLEASE GROW UP and take your petty fights (no doubt over revenues) behind the scenes!!! We the consumers do not want our search experience adversely impacted by such immature nonsense.
    And don’t think that your search engine could not be improved!! You never know what new companies or technologies could be around the corner with a better directory search experience than you provide. Muddling up the search experience with this nonsense is going to turn Google users away over the long term.
    Thank you!!
    From a concerned Internet User.

  49. Well.. I came to this page by searching for ‘john chow’ and his blog is number 1 again and this page comes as a number 2 result :)

  50. This blog is making a fortune out of the Google’s rearranging strategy…. Let me ask, is this your most popular post…??? i guess so..
    Anyways…. i think this was coming…with john i mean… but still i would say it was a bit unfair.
    regards
    Thinkjayant

  51. You guys used to rank #1 for john chow, not it is #2, because of the john cow link bait strategy way back a while ago now.

  52. Wouldn’t this site be considered link bait? It is a deceptive link. Is this a good marketing strategy, something you want to teach others…?
    At least I have a better understanding of why SEO was needed after search engines came on the scene (Good SEO that is). It is because of the games being played by search engines that people even need SEO.
    I agree search engines have to set perimeters or go out of business but this is over the top. It also proves another theory. A “useful” site is stictly in the eyes of the user.

  53. Wouldn’t this site be considered link bait? It is a deceptive link. Is this a good marketing strategy, something you want to teach others…?
    At least I have a better understanding of why SEO was needed after search engines came on the scene (Good SEO that is). It is because of the games being played by search engines that people even need SEO.
    I agree search engines have to set perimeters or go out of business but this is over the top. It also proves another theory. A “useful” site is stictly in the eyes of the user.

  54. Wouldn’t this site be considered link bait? It is a deceptive link. Is this a good marketing strategy, something you want to teach others…?
    At least I have a better understanding of why SEO was needed after search engines came on the scene (Good SEO that is). It is because of the games being played by search engines that people even need SEO.
    I agree search engines have to set perimeters or go out of business but this is over the top. It also proves another theory. A “useful” site is stictly in the eyes of the user.

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