Defying Google as a Business Model – Do You Follow?

This post was guest blogged by Alan Johnson, the author of The Online Business Handbook.

Since we have our very own John Chow as a perfect example of a person who has chosen to make defying Google an important part of his business model, let’s try to find out if this strategy is recommended for everyone or if that is not exactly the case.

First of all, we have Google’s business model: “We can send free targeted traffic your way, but you have to do as we say”. Yes, their decisions are definitely controversial and yes, they are anything but perfect but, as the biggest player in search, it comes with the territory.

If your SEO campaign is too aggressive, they will drop you like there’s no tomorrow and, the same way, if you choose to sell links, don’t add the “nofollow” attribute and get caught, they will lower your PR just like that. Under such circumstances, a logical question arises: can they get away with it?

Unfortunately, They Can!

Given the fact that the competition isn’t exactly making Google’s life hard, they can unfortunately get away with just about anything. “But it’s my website, why can’t I sell links as I please?”, you may ask. You can sell links, nobody is pointing a gun at you, but (and here’s where it gets tricky): if you want their traffic, you have to play by their rules.

It doesn’t sound fair, but that’s the way things work in the real world. That being stated, you have an important decision to make as far as your approach towards Google is concerned and let’s start by analyzing:

The “Evil” Approach

I’m sure that the word “evil” makes it clear which website I will be using as a case study. John Chow has approached the market with his “evil” attitude when it comes to making money online, and the big G made no exception.

In fact, defying Google actually represents a fairly important part of his business model. “I don’t care”, that’s basically what John’s attitude towards Google is all about. He doesn’t care about penalties and he doesn’t care about the fact that they have lowered his PR as a result of the fact that he sells links. Let’s analyze the advantages and disadvantages of his approach as far as John Chow dot Com is concerned.

Advantages

  • Branding benefits, with his attitude towards Google being something which has contributed to his “evil” image
  • Google haters = loyal readers (it’s fair to assume that more than a few people who absolutely hate Google have chosen to follow this blog as a result of this approach)
  • The fact that he has proven that he is able to generate traffic without the big G (or, in other words, confidence in his skills as a marketer)
  • Exposure (after all, more than a few webmasters have written about his approach and I’m sure you know what that means: more exposure for his blog)

Disadvantages

  • Less traffic from Google as a result of his aggressive SEO campaign
  • A lower PR as a result of the fact that he sells links

All in all, you can see that this approach has actually worked out for him, no matter what people have said at the beginning and, at the moment of writing, he is still defying Google. Guess why:

Because He Can Afford It!

Yes, he doesn’t receive a lot of traffic from Google but more than a few other sources compensate for that. Yes, he isn’t ranking for “John Chow”, but the pages which rank for that term are about him anyway.

All in all, the exposure he has received as a result of his attitude towards Google has proven to be worth it as far as JohnChow.com is concerned, but is that the case for everyone?

Risk vs. Reward

Sure, John Chow can afford it, but can you? In the end, speaking in general terms is impossible and it’s all a matter of risk vs. reward. If you don’t play by their rules, you risk losing the traffic they send your way as well as your PR.

It’s your responsibility to analyze your business model and decide if such an attitude is worth it as far as your website is concerned. Where would your website be without traffic from Google? How much could you earn if, for example, you were to start selling links today?

Obviously, if you could only earn about 10% of your website’s income by selling links and if Google counts for let’s say 40% of your website’s traffic, starting to sell links would simply be foolish on your part. Is that 10% actually worth losing almost half of your traffic? Of course not!

And remember: if you sell links and get caught, your PR will be lowered and the value of a link from your website automatically decreases as well, it’s a vicious circle. The same way, if your website is new but search engine traffic is an important part of your business model, you have to play by their rules if you are interested in long-term traffic from Google.

What Will Your Approach Be?

The final decision, my friend, is yours and only yours to make. You have John Chow as an example of how defying Google can work in your favor on the one hand, yet you also have more than a few webmasters who currently wish they had played by Google’s rules on the other.

Based on your business model and on the risk vs. reward ratio of a certain attitude towards Google as far as your website is concerned, you have to determine what you want to do next. Remember: it’s not a matter of what works best, it’s a matter of what works best for you.


49 thoughts on “Defying Google as a Business Model – Do You Follow?”

  1. DeboHobo says:

    So basically until you have a loyal following or readership has high as John, Shoe or Darren, then one must bow down to google. Play the game until you make it then make your own rules.

    1. Mmm. When the Google smack came along, I ranted and raved and refused to bow down to G. Now blog is back at PR2, but I don’t know how long for. Since the smack, my traffic from Google has been growing quite nicely… go figure… I still do not intend to ask for reconsideration. I don’t see why. AFter all, G. can turn around and change the tables again and again… Mm..

      1. Not all of us are that brave but, I apreciate those of you who are. Maybe if enough people stood up to Google it would be a better place.

    2. No you do not. Basically if you can get good traffic from other sources then there is no need to listen to Google and their algorithms.

    3. Pretty much true. Google is useful in the beginning, but I think after readership and loyalty is built, it become a bit less integral.. as John is already proving.

      🙂

    4. BuzzBop says:

      Any business model that relies so heavily on one source is a risky model. I think JC has been wise to divorce himself from such reliance on Google. Imagine what would happen to all the folks who have such a dependency if Google went belly up tomorrow. (Not that this is very likely.) As with any investments, a diverse portfolio is the wisest.

    5. Paolo U says:

      That is the same thing that I’m thinking because I’m just starting out. I don’t have the resources to market that much either.

    6. Googlelady says:

      I might disagree with what you said DeboHobo. Even if you have a great readership in your blog, you will need Google if you are doing affiliate marketing or making money with your blog. Even John advertise in Google adwords (Content network) why? Because he wants to increase his readership and he knows that if Google did not penalized him he will have more readership (and may be more demand in his advertising spots) with the keyword “Make Money Online”.

      Is not true that Google don’t want us to advertise, they know that is not their problem. What they want to “try” is to stop bloggers and webmasters to sell pagerank. Are they afraid of TLA? and other services alike, of course! It works and that’s why they penalized those that use such services. But if you notice, it seems that the “penalty” of john chow is getting away, don’t remember which keyword I was using on google and johnchow was at page #2 (something related to making money online).

    7. To some extent this seems to be the case. But we can act as if they don’t exist, even if we do derive some benefit from them.

    8. MR. NICE GUY says:

      So better still follow Google rules or else he’ll immediately kick you in the ass. Google is heart-less indeed that’s he sanctions erring blogger just like that there’s no tomorrow. 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

    9. Syed Balkhi says:

      I don’t necessarily agree with that … you dont have to bow down to them. Just use the social bookmarks effectively and you won’t even need google.

    10. Thems the breaks when Google runs the show.

  2. I agree that Google doesn’t own us. If we can replace traffic from Google for traffic from other sources, we should if it is effective for business.

    1. I think we are seeing this with social media such as Digg, Stumble upon, twitter, etc.

  3. Aaron says:

    I appreciate that you shouldn’t live by Google, but I’m going to play by there rules for some time to come because my blog’s still in its infancy. However, search traffic doesn’t actually account for that much of my traffic so I guess in reality, I could live without it.

    But because I’m greedy, I don’t want to!

    1. MR. NICE GUY says:

      Google is greedy and so are you? Feathers with the same feather flock together hahaha just joking. Google helps few earning big bucks but thousands cry in pain because they slapped by Google like there’s no tomorrow.

  4. Rhys says:

    Question is, how many people will type in “John Chow” into a search engine? No disrespect, but whilst everybody here knows of him, he’s not a mega celebrity.

    Where John Chow (and a lot of bloggers who achieve success) get their readers is from social networking and other blogs. Yes, it’s trickier than making money the conventional way, but it can be nonetheless rewarding.

    1. He’s been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine and other offline media…im sure that the searches for John Chow are increasing.

      1. Honestly though, there aren’t enough searches for John Chow to really matter to him. KeywordDiscovery.com is showing 79 searches per month, that’s not much.

      2. Rhys says:

        And all the offline media usually list the URL for this website, so people don’t need to search for it!

  5. Life on Mars says:

    OMG, envy ur couragement, come on, try that, see if you can beat big G down, come on! :mrgreen:

    1. Robert says:

      It’s going to take a very innovative company to bring down Google.

      1. Googlelady says:

        Let me know when you do that I will for sure register a name “yourcompanyLady” 🙄

  6. AMAR BHAGAT says:

    Nice website , a little slow loading though. Full of a lot of good content..

  7. Sam says:

    Certainly the fact that he had a ton of non-Google search traffic plays into the fact that he could “not care.” If he had an 8 page rank and was gettting 65-80% of his through search, I doubt he’d have been successful.

    In any case, the ironic part about it is that if the reason he is punished is for selling links without nofollow, and he is still able to sell them the same way for the same price after being punished and with google likely punishing link-buyers (or at least not counting them), clearly the link-buyers aren’t buying it for the page rank.

    So, what’s the point? He could just put in no-follow and Google + his advertisers would be happy.

    1. Googlelady says:

      Even if he adds the No-Follow it will take time (may be months or years) to get unpenalized. May be “surrending” to google and sending an email to them saying that he accepts the error that he did and he fixed it (exchanging links long-time ago, with the anchor text “make money online”).

  8. wisdom says:

    Google sends the most traffic to my sites. That’s just how the game works. For John it doesn’t really matter because he doesn’t need it. I still found John Chow Dot Com though google anways. I mean come on even though hes not in the search if someone wants to find him, just about every post in the search talks about him.

  9. Robert says:

    I guess if you’re starting it, selling links might not be smart. But if you get going, develop a loyal reader base and large subscriber list, you can go it alone and flip off Google.

  10. Joe says:

    That post was extremely similar to the one I wrote a couple months ago:

    http://www.whydowork.com/blog/wdw-insider/212/

  11. Wade says:

    Google is great for starters, but once you reach a certain point, you can toss it and pick up better payout programs. You can boost off google for traffic, then once you are established, start playing with campaings.

  12. Ashley says:

    I make most of my money selling text links – like 80% so it’s a necessary evil. I have gotten hit with lower PageRank, however it didn’t really seem to change my traffic from Google any.

    One thing that Google makes clear again and again is that they want to provide the most relevant results for their users. By NOT showing johnchow.com when someone types in “John Chow” they are clearly failing at their goal. The way I look at it, it’s Google’s problem. If they don’t want people buying text links to pass on PR, they should never have created visable PR in the first place. If they think that selling text links somehow cheapens their SERP, then they can exclude what ever sites they like. But again, in the end, if they’re not providing relevant results to their users, someone else will come along with a search that does. Isn’t that how Google made it in the first place – by coming up with a good search that couldn’t be gamed?

    As I said, my PR has bounced around a bit, but it really doesn’t change the number of people that Google sends me on a given day so I’m not even convicned that it really hurts your traffic. Perhaps for some high profile sites like this one they’ve made an exception (or gotten a lot more complaints that he’s selling text links) but from what I’ve seen it’s not slowing me down.

  13. Paolo U says:

    This doesn’t works on everybody. Defying the big G when you are just starting out and hasn’t a lot of capital is the last thing that a newbie must do.

    1. Ashley says:

      I disagree with this sentiment.

      I think whether you’re starting out or have been around for a while, you shouldn’t worry what-so-ever whether or not you’re going to offend Google. Concentrate on making your site the best site it can be with the best content you can create so that people will like it. Google should be chasing us not the other way around.

      If you are starting out why not offend Google from the begining so you’re never dependant on them for the majority of your traffic. Use other methods to build your site.

      I firmly believe that Google is starting to put the horse before the cart and ultimatly someone will create a better search because of it.

      1. Paolo U says:

        It will only work if you have the money to advertise your site like JOhn Chow.

  14. Horny Girl says:

    how did john chow do it from the start? You only pay when you want to do something instant….i mean generate instant traffic!

    1. Paolo U says:

      He is already rich before he start on doing his blog.

  15. Edi Kwie says:

    We can’t depend to instant way, we must pass the progress, including ‘obey’ with Google rules.

  16. JBiggs says:

    Hello
    At the moment i still learning how to make good income from internet, searching for great tips and advice to help me successful.
    I found your articles very help me to get an idea about how to make money online.
    Thanks once again.
    JBiggs 🙂

  17. Like Ashley I have lots of traffic from Google, hundreds every day, but I’ve still got that PR3 after 6 months. So I’ve been trimming my text links, and at the end of the month I’m going to drop the last 2 and see what that does.

    1. Googlelady says:

      The pagerank that is shown in any toolbar or any web service that tell you your site pagerank is not accurate. Googlelady 2 years ago was pagerank 7. Then after a year it went down to pagerank 5 and after the whole pagerank chaos is pagerank 4. But still my articles are at the top, even is much better than before. So don’t worry about your pagerank just focuss on create unique content and monetize your blog well enough.

  18. GOOG still rules the web waves. JC could have been 10 times his current status if he had not been penalized by big G.

  19. robertlam18 says:

    Google suck. They are dictatorship.

    What is to stop Bill Gate and Yahoo from doing exactly what Google do e.g. google analytics, etc and offer the internet an alternative? I still submit sitemap to Yahoo. The only problem with Yahoo is they don’t have enough online tools. If they do then I definitely will diversify my model with them and am sure same with everyone here.

    http://www.swearpidia.com

  20. linkmeback says:

    i agree with robertlam18;
    but, Google is Suck, and they are dictatorship if you only rely on them. Today, we have tons of medium to get traffics. e.g Yahoo, MSN, ASK… and social bookmarking, stumble etc… for me, traffics have it’s cycle, if we don’t have PR (i don’t know much about PR) maybe we don’t have traffics from Big G. But, if we have link from other website that link to us… we still have traffic… coz, they also indexed. (sory my lang).

    TQ.

  21. Fitness Site says:

    Thats an interesting article.

    I hope Chow will bring a new search engine to break google monopoly.. Are you chow ? 😆

  22. I just focus on providing quality content and monetize however I want. If Google doesn’t like me, oh well.

  23. Chris says:

    I’m still trying to work out the point of this post. You seem to be saying that if you’re reasonably well-known then you don’t have to rely on Google for traffic.

    Mkay .. and it took you an entire post to say that?

    It might be marginally more interesting to discuss if John Chow would be as well known as you imply he is if he hadn’t used Google in the first place. And of course it’s not a matter of “he can afford it”, but more “he doesn’t have any choice” because Google dropped him.

    Hey but let’s ignore all that in favour of some meaningless fluff 😆

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