OK, Google… They Surrender

A few readers have noticed the black banner with the white flag running at the top of the blog and emailed me asking why I am surrendering to Google. At first, I thought it was a joke but I’ve received several emails asking the same question. The answer is I did not surrender. The white flag is from long term advertiser, Search Engine guide, and they’re the ones who are surrendering after receiving a PR bitch slap from Google for linking to their advertisers without a nofollow tag.

Editor In Chief, Jennifer Laycock was determined to stand her ground on what she felt was mass intimidation by the giant search engine. However, the founder of Search Engine Guide, Robert “The Chicken” Clough, concluded that you can’t win in a war against Google and tried to draft up a letter of surrender. The first draft went like this:

Regardless of my opinion on the situation, it’s Google’s index and we have to abide by their rules if we want remain in their index. I want us to remain in their index.”

Therefore, effective immediately, we will be nofollowing all advertising on Search Engine Guide and our sister sites. We surrender

Jennifer did not like the letter one bit and recommended Clough reword it to the following:

Oh mighty Google overlords, take my ads, take my firstborn, take anything you wish. By the way, give me a minute to bend over and here’s some lube to make it easier on you.

This is why I love Jennifer so much. :mrgreen: Make sure you read the full surrender post. It’s too good to pass up.

It seems that Search Engine Guide isn’t the only one surrendering to the mighty Google overlords. Yaro Starak, who wrote that PageRank doesn’t matter after he was slapped with a PageRank penalty, did a sudden flip-flop and said that PageRank matter for him. I’m sure many other blogs have tossed up the white flag at Google. However, I am not one of them, but I have no problems with any blogs that does bend over and pass Google the lube.

For me, surrendering to Google would cost way too much money. Sure, it will be nice to be ranked properly in their index but the traffic they would send wouldn’t come close to making up for the money lost. This is a business decision that each site will have to make on their own.

118 thoughts on “OK, Google… They Surrender”

  1. At first I though that of the same thing. Why would John surrender? Then I got the message later. But I have to say that it is a very confusing ad. It does not explain much.

    1. I’m Sorry I don’t really like to join the band wagon but I must On this one because google is a power house. It’s hard enough competing with john chow for the MAKE MONEY ONLINE niche. Now I got to compete with google….. Too much to handle……………………….. It’s hard enough man πŸ˜₯

      1. Cash Quests says:

        You probably shouldn’t have that much reliance on any one company. You never when they’re going to ban you for whatever reason they choose and leave you high and dry.

        You don’t need to compete with JC, but follow his example – he got banned by Google and his earnings increased. I’m confident that with a solid monetization strategy in place that all other bloggers could also achieve the same results.

        1. JC is earning more because his blog is well known and has got enough external links to promote it. And you have to admit that most other blogs are not as very know as JC.

          1. Cash Quests says:

            Shouldn’t mean a thing. You can still have your site placed in the TLA and ReviewMe marketplaces and you can also be found via PayPerPost Direct. Most affiliate earnings will also come from regular readers and not Google traffic.

            Most webmasters report Google traffic to be less than 10% of total traffic and I don’t think that much of that is monetized.

          2. About 40% of mine. Whoops 😯

          3. The people who come to a site via a search engine are generally new visitors. This means that if a new visitor can’t easily navigate to a blog, then the the blog will not a a returning visitor.

          4. To Michael, but isn’t that what our website needs? New visitors, and it is not true that those visitors will most probably not come back, it could be that those visitors are the same that will bookmark the site or subscribe to rss or even remember the domain and come back again.

            But after all, we all need some fresh air to breath, of course to have all your visitors source in one basket is not smart at all and JC is lucky (smart) enough to not depend from Google only or any other search engine, or just one other source that drives traffic.

          5. I mean that if the new visitor can’t find a blog at first, he or she will never find out and see the blog.

        2. JC is unique. He had a head start and more importantly he has a loyal following. Others are not so positioned and will have to decide, as John has, purely logical and money based decisions.

    2. Nabloid.com says:

      I made a comment about this a long time ago admiring the ad! It’s genius.

  2. Joe Ngo says:

    Hard to believe so many bloggers are giving up. I thought that if they just stayed strong things would eventually fix themselves. Sometimes google is a little much for me, but they do control a good portion of the internet, so it might be in their best interest. Like you said though, John, it is a business decision.

  3. Googlelady says:

    I read the letter and was great! I will recommend everyone to click on the banner and read it. Remember that not always you win πŸ˜‰ there are many times that you loose battles but who will win the war?

  4. Nelson says:

    hey John, you should surrender NOW, you will regret when you turn comes, by then the lube wil be gone . you been warned.. don;t scream when big papi comes on you.

  5. Cash Quests says:

    Haha…don’t people realize that on johnchow.com that if it’s above the fold – it’s an ad! πŸ™‚

    I really enjoy the fact that you’re not bending over for Google. I mean, you’d lose like $2500+ per month by dropping TLA which is hardly worth the traffic from Google.

    What really annoys me is that Google hasn’t officially come out and said what they want people to do (at least I can’t find any official announcement). Matt Cutts has said some stuff but it’s pretty arrogant to expect every person who sells links to read his blog.

    Not only that, but Google is telling us to “do” something (add no follow) rather than “stop” doing something. That’s just too demanding in my opinion. What’s next? You’re dropped from the index unless you display a big Google banner but we’re not going to officially tell anyone that? What a joke.

  6. That was the funniest thing I’ve read all day. Also, he makes a great point about don’t bother your long term clients, because if you remind them you exist, they might remember they are paying you by the month.

  7. I surrendered to Google months ago. They own my productivity. πŸ‘Ώ

  8. “Oh mighty Google overlords, take my ads, take my firstborn, take anything you wish. By the way, give me a minute to bend over and here’s some lube to make it easier on you.”

    O dear o dear, I am still rolling about on the floor. Am going straight to the full surrender post.

  9. Mike says:

    Google takes care of me. I need them!

  10. LeBokov says:

    I guess Google is turning (or have turned) into another Microsoft but this time on the internet and web application field.

    1. Yes its true: Google is a Microsoft in the making. They used to be the fun, friendly, creative guys, now they are the corporate big noise.

    2. B3NZ0 says:

      Where have you been for the last 2 years?

  11. Karol Krizka says:

    I think that PR matters for new blogs, because it drives traffic from search engines and lets new visitors discover it. I noticed that after my blog got its first PageRank of 4, and I started getting around 1000 visitors a day. But then for established blogs like yours with loads returning visitors (many of which will blog about you, bringing in more traffix), it dosn’t really matter.

    1. I think that is the crux of the issue. It depends just how much google traffic is helping as to how much you are wiling to stand up to them. Google traffic helps me a lot!

  12. MoneyNing says:

    Even though I’m not a regular over at the other side, the post at Search Engine Guide was great πŸ™‚

    It’s good that John is able to reject Google because johnchow.com never got used to huge traffic from Google. I bet if johnchow.com was never banned on Google, John would think much longer about google’s slap. Other sites always had google traffic and it is always very hard to give up something significant.

  13. Yeah it’s crazy how they are singling out specific blogs

  14. Domtan says:

    It’s an innovative banner. The Search Engine Guide banners have been rather impressive. “1..2 Google’s coming for you, 3..4… they’ll lower your PageRank score.” Simple, but yet effective.

  15. David Mackey says:

    I read the article…Though I’m still not sure why they are spending precious ad dollars letting people know they’ve surrender to Master Google.

  16. Why not have it both ways? When your blog is small, bend over and take it from Google. You probably need the search engine traffic. Once you get bigger and have eleventy million readers like John, tell Google to get lost and start raking in that extra cash.

  17. Unfortunately the vast majority of people out there rely on Google’s referral traffic. 99.9% of us can’t afford to piss Google off… πŸ˜•

  18. Economic Discourse says:

    He who has the gold, makes the rules.

    Good thing for you, John. You need not bend over for the present day giant. We all hope to follow

  19. Carl says:

    I don’t know why everyone is making a huge deal about this. It IS Google’s index. You wouldn’t be selling those text ads if it weren’t for Google. They have every right to monetize their own product, and prevent others from what is technically abusing their product to monetize it themselves.

    If you don’t like it, add Google to your robots.txt file.

    1. Carl says:

      ^ That’s a dare by the way πŸ‘Ώ

  20. Mike Saf says:

    I will keep doing what I’m doing. There are other techniques to find traffic.

  21. Currently google accounts for such a large proportion of my traffic that I rely on them too much…

    1. MoneyNing says:

      How much is that? I heard that for most people, it’s something like 1/3?

  22. Marvin says:

    I’m still very new to blogging and an idiot to all this insider stuff so, can someone please explain to me why linking to Googles Advertisers without a nofollow tag a bad thing for Google and a good thing for a publisher?

    1. Jimi says:

      Pretty simple. Google’s algorithm is based on the number links to a website, the keywords they are linked by, and the PAge Rank of the site that links come from to give them their Page Rank as well as your placement rank. Since Google is either A) too lazy to come up with a better system, or B) too proud to come up with a better one, they are taking it out on the people that have cracked the code and abuse it to make money with their own websites.

      In fact they are in essence asking webmasters to do their job for them. Placing “nofollow” on links that are paid for so Google will not count them and give them a PR boost. Although Google really cannot tell if you have been paid to place a link or not, they are taking it upon themselves to lower the Page Ranks of people they suspect are getting paid for links and not using the “nofollow” tags.

      It is completely insane once you think about it. Google is punishing US because their system is flawed and we have figured it out. Now guess how many people actually will know they are supposed to use “nofollow” tags on paid links? Very few because Google isn’t making an official announcement about it. They are just killing ranks!

  23. Moulinneuf says:

    Google is becomming increasingly irrelevant for proper search , there was a trust factor ( do no evil ) but now with all there **rules** and own agenda , if one can’t trust that they return Johnchow.com for a john chow search , what else are they modifying and hidding ? It’s comparable to a dictionnary who remove words they don’t like and people who they don’t support.

    This days ( no pub here just mentionning what I use ) I tend to turn to Mahalo for search first , if they have something on the search the result are more complete and relevant then browsing tru all the junk Google get.

    1. That is an interesting point as to whether google will loose the trust of people for their search funtion. I think that is a long way off and I’m sure most non-bloggers don’t have any massive issues with them.

  24. sylv3rblade says:

    I hate to ask the obvious but if you consider Google PR dead/invalid/useless why in the world are you still blogging about it?
    Carl’s advice on the Google bot maybe quite drastic but it is their system. It’s a real amazing, if not amusing, turn around before the PR update where everyone was praising the system and now it’s quite the opposite.

  25. Couple more funnies from the full surrender post:
    >”Dear Google, bite me!” There you go. Done.
    >”As wonderful as Google is” ? … I think I threw up in my mouth a little
    πŸ˜† πŸ˜† πŸ˜†

  26. SEO Vibe says:

    I think adsense has its place on new sites, without enough traffic your options are limited but step#2 – affiliate sales and step#3 – direct sales usually aren’t that far behind.

    30 days into my last project the affiliates surpased adsense despite adsense having the better site positioning. I suspect that site will be adsense free in another 30 days because like you say John, there are higher paying options when traffic picks up. Lots of them.

    1. SEO Vibe says:

      P.S. in reading some comments above the misconception that pagerank and search results are tied lingers on. I can show you loads of PR2 sites that far outposition their PR6 counterparts.

      Proper search and pagerank are not linked.

    2. MoneyNing says:

      I think affiliate sales only works when the site niche has related products that can be sold… This is not the case for every single niche.

  27. Rhys says:

    We should start a rebellion – like Google Rebellion Alliance πŸ˜‰

    1. Yes like the Google pagerank victim buttons that someone came up with

  28. bmunch says:

    Is Google the new Microsoft?

    After all the microsoft bashing when Vista launch, now is the time for Google bashing.

    I have a feeling netizen needs to bash some big bad companies once in a while to feel good about themselves.

    In case I am too subtle above, YES, I surrender, oh mighty Google. πŸ˜‰

    1. I really like Vista and looking forward to Windows 7. If you don’t think Vista is good, just switch back and see which useful feature you will miss. Currently, I am using Vista, when I use a XP PC, I fell so lost and like a idiot who don’t know what he is doing.

      1. MoneyNing says:

        What kind of PC do you have? I have heard a ton of horror stories about Vista being unbelievably slow for them…

        1. I knew that someone would ask this question. Although I admit that Vista is a hungry and memory eating beast, if you PC is not powerful enough, then just don’t upgrade. Use what you have got. You can’t expect a new version of Windows that has way more cool features to operate flawlessly on an old computer. It just doesn’t work that way. And I do recommend all people to get a new PC every 4 years to avoid trouble.
          …oh…and I run Vista on both my laptop and desktop. Laptop has 1GB of RAM and a 100GB hard drive. Very average laptop.

  29. PUA says:

    John, you really should be careful what you say about google. They probably read this blog.

    1. John Chow says:

      I’m sure they do. 😈

  30. CompuWorld says:

    if you are actually making the amount of bucks which you boast about than dear you wont surrender even at gun point!

    but who knows if Google may even reconsider your request or not EVEN IF YOU SURRENDER..they must be hating you :mrgreen:

    by the way I DID NOT surrender to google as I never used any paid links and I wont be as I love my Google traffic!!

  31. Raymond says:

    I feel happy with my PR so far (because this is my first PR update),
    so there’s no need for me to surrender. πŸ™‚

  32. The Mad Ape says:

    Exactly what is the Google Index anyway? I always had this naive impression that it was based on actual search popularity, back links etc…but nooooooooooooo. It has been bastardized for the sake of the almighty dollar.

    They have a ‘do as I say not as I do’ mentality. They can do whatever they wish with someones website in order to make them comply.

    Take a look at this one for example. As an advertiser I would want to be on one the best blogging sites about blogging to make money. However Google, in a childish move, relegates JohnChow.com to the basement for being a bad boy. A bad boy in who’s eyes? In the eyes of the corporate greedy dastardly Google Police.

    So if I am googling for a blog like this I will never find it. Maybe we should start a campaign to go anti-google. Forget the white flag. Put a a pirate flag and tell Google to shove it.

    The Mad Ape

    1. sylv3rblade says:

      Great… a movement against a search engine. That would be classic. *sarcasm*

  33. The Mad Ape says:

    Tried to post my image in response to the surrender flag but it did not work so here is a link

    The Mad Ape

  34. Michael Woo says:

    So what will happen to SEO? Existing SEO Experts are not experts anymore? πŸ˜€

  35. SEG’s thought process, their willingness to share it with bloggers and the humour and angst invoved all are to be commended. It is sad however that they decided to surrender. I wish them well.

  36. girly says:

    :mrgreen: :mrgreen: google is very-very high quality. I lose google πŸ˜†

  37. lilian says:

    John, I stole the black banner. I surrender too. (but only one blog out of a dozen :mrgreen: )

  38. so I will never be stuck one day thinking up an idea.

  39. Mike Warner says:

    I think that SEO is the real question here. After many discussions with friends on the subject of SEO, I think that you really can’t trust what Google has to say on the subject. I think John’s strategy is excellent. Get as much traffic from Digg, Google and the rest, as you can. When you get to the point that black hat techniques get you banned, complain to all your loyal readers and fellow bloggers and now he is one of the most famous bloggers in part for his defiant stand against the mighty corporations.

  40. KNau says:

    I learned about Johnchow.com from a bit he did on “Lab with Leo” on tech TV. I think effective marketing like that is probably just as (if not more) effective than the constant struggle to make your site conform to whatever arbitrary new rules Google comes up with.

  41. John, I commend you on standing your ground against any entity that tries to dictate how we bloggers and entrepeneurs should maintain our businesses. I’d never wave a white flag and surrender, it’s always more fun to fly a freak flag (like Jimi Hendrix sang about).

  42. Champi says:

    Google becomes more and more a joke.. Surrender πŸ˜† . They should first play straight.

  43. FUG says:

    Google won’t be relevant for long if she keeps acting like this.

  44. Brad says:

    I’d love to see a study among bloggers that actually showed whether or not Google sends “readers” or people that will stick. I know that I have traffic sources that send visitors that have triple and quadruple the page views per visit… hmmm

  45. mcangeli says:

    I think after this latest round of google bitchslapping the problogging world, that PR may be on its way out. At least as advertisers are concerned. We’ve read too many places that after google dumped PR on several sites their market actually increased. It shows that advertisers aren’t taking google PR for everything it USED to be. With other search sites out there (has anyone tried ask.com lately, that engine rocks) maybe its part of the evolution of the net.

    On the other hand, this fluctuation has been happening for three weeks now, maybe its just another bump in the road.

  46. I only ever got a slap that really effected traffic once. The pagerank got effected this time on a few of my sites, but the traffic is still climbing. I laugh because I’m basically a nobody. Seeing all the somebodies scramble gives me a little thing to lighten my day.

  47. Ivy says:

    Its interesting to watch this discussion as a newbie, because I started promoting my blog about three weeks ago, following the techniques from John’s eBook rather an SEO book.

    What is interesting for me is that John changed my concept of traffic – I used to worry about search engines sending me traffic, but you know today over 80% of my traffic are from referring sites and only 7.3% are from Google search engine. And get this – out of the 7.3% of hits I get from Google search engines, only about 2% actually spend more than 1 minute or browse to another page.

    By following the techniques outlined in the ebook through social networking, commenting and linkbaiting, I’ve received a few stumbles, and my traffic is starting to build up slowly but surely. My direct hits have also increased. AND the quality of that traffic is way better. All visitors from referred sites stay between 3 to 15 minutes on my site, and the average number of pages browsed is 2.5. Granted, my traffic is building up really slowly (I have to juggle writing with promoting my site as well as a day job), I wished it was growing faster, but I’m happy with the quality of the readers I’m getting.

    1. MoneyNing says:

      Good to see another new blogger into the community πŸ™‚ I’m sure you will fine tons of tips and tricks to increase your subscribers in the coming weeks/months/years πŸ™‚

  48. Das Brain says:

    Google is the new Microsoft. Heck they are even more powerful now.
    Surrendering to Google will cost too much money for me as well for my sites, so like the Borg…..you will be assimilated , HA HA HA (Evil Laugh) πŸ‘Ώ

    Das Brain

  49. iamned says:

    Google needs to buyout facebook though if possible. Facebook is a much more threatening competitor than microsoft or yahoo.

    Google has some arcane policies that make it hard to get traffic unless you’e one of the ‘chosen’ who shalt rank well

  50. Doug says:

    It’s easy to talk tough about not needing Google (for traffic) when you have 14000 RSS subscribers…until they “accidentally” drop your feed from feedburner πŸ™‚

  51. Terrence says:

    “Do no evil”. It is Google’s motto right? It’s funny that the tide is slowly but surely turning against Google. I actually wrote about this very thing about two years ago as it had the book scanning controversy and were preparing their foray into video search (before the YouTube acquisition). Ever since then, I’ve seen more and more negative commentary on Google.

    It just seems to be the natural evolution of things that big companies eventually start upsetting a certain segment of the population. There was a time that most people loved Microsoft and Wal-Mart. For the most part, most people still do, otherwise these two entities wouldn’t make as much money as they do. But there becomes a point where a very vocal minority tends to turn the tide.

    Full Disclosure, I actually used to work at MS. But I recently quit because it was the company I thought it would be when I joined (I was an anti-ms guy before I joined, and held some hope it would be a good place to work)

  52. Etienne Teo says:

    No more text link ads, let’s see what google have to say in the next update. :mrgreen:

  53. Matt L says:

    It’s a total catch-22.. Can’t afford the dedicated servers and writers without advertising. Can’t get advertising without PageRank. But can’t get good PageRank if you’re advertising. What’s a blogger to do?

    It’s funny, PageRank is supposed to reflect your site’s authority status. We’re featured constantly in MAJOR sporting news publications, and have backlinks from the top sporting sites on te web, but because we’re trying to support our business by advertising, we get dropped to a PR3?

    The system is fucked, and surrendering to G is the last thing anyone should be doing. If everyone stands their ground, they’d be forced to rethink their “strategy”, as everyone’s ranks would drop simultaneously. And if you’re not selling links, why do you care that your PR dropped in the first place?

    1. Fred says:

      I agree with you, but, unfortunately I think Google has deeper pockets. 😑 and πŸ™


  54. Bloggeries says:

    You are right John, For you it would be way to costly however for most of the smaller guys… If they make 350-600 a month on sitewide sales it’s worth it to be re-included as search traffic may bring more and depending on the market they are in and what tyhpe of site it may be worth it. For you on the other hand… Sounds weird but who cares about search engines when you are a household name and have 14,000+ subscribers… You get mentione don OTHER peoples blogs so much it doesn’t matter.

  55. Frank C says:

    Google is just asking for the US and EU courts to go after them for anti-trust in the near future if they continue their approach of using control of search results damage competitors in the online advertising world.

  56. Domtan says:

    The online money making business is slowly turning to a dog-eat-dog arena. Google is just making sure that everybody still knows who the “big dog” is.

  57. Fred says:

    The Google Surrender’s Prayer

    Oh most unholy Google

    Supreme being of search engines

    We have been humbled by your omnipotence

    We cower in the shadow of your greatness

    We tremble at the site of our low PR

    We offer our ‘follow’ links as burnt sacrifice

    A sign of our supplication and obedience

    Please bless us with increased PR

    And guide us with your wisdom

    1. Fred says:

      Final lines….

      We bend over before you

      Please remember, there’s always time for lubrication

  58. PatBiz says:

    I wrote a post last night about my how I feel regarding Godgle…. oups Google, sorry. Let’s collaborate and forget about Google. I invite readers to my post on the subject, if you want to collaborate, I’m open to lots of things, just click my name and read my proposal.

  59. The reason why Google was so good was their algorithm took all the SPAM out. Now, Google’s algorithm is not working as well so they are simply blaming on bloggers. They really need a new algorithm if anything. I foresee integration of Google and StumbleUpon very soon. (although it is already integrated sorta if you use the toolbar)

  60. I am still waiting on Yahoo Publisher – are they out of beta yet?

  61. johnCard says:

    google keep on pushing bloggers, sooner or later something will give.

  62. Pro says:

    real men don’t need no lube… πŸ˜›
    Seriously though, I have not given into those who we shall not speak of. I am not saying that I will not, I just don’t want to yet, I would much prefer to investigate all other options first. Imagine how TLA’s business is being hammered at the moment. This has similarities to MS in its bad old days before it started losing its power. If bloggers became serious about their objections and did not role over to the G, there would be an opportunity for another player to come in here and grab a fairly lucrative slice of the market. Wishful thinking perhaps, but who knows.

  63. sunipeyk says:

    Nice πŸ™‚
    And this is the way how we react to it.
    A 1/2 reaction πŸ™‚
    close down 2 of 1 ads
    Want to join?

  64. Drew says:

    I don’t get this, how are they supposed to know who sells links and who just links to a site? Also then if you can’t pay to initially get some links to get some traffic and PR then how are you supposed to initially market your site? Also who is Matt Cutts, and what makes him think everyone would know about his rule? There must be billions of pages who know nothing about Matt Cutts or this no follow crap. Now because Google doesnt like people somewhat exploiting their PR system, they want webmasters to do the hard work and put in stupid no follow crap? In fact what are you supposed to do again? Their algo is fine imo, if a site has put effort into making it rank high, then why punish if they sell links to make other sites high? lol, google lost plot

  65. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is what I understand from this issue:

    1) The income from TLA (Why not LinkWorth – they pay more?) is enough that JC does not care about being in Google.

    2) The reason most people buy links are for the PR they provide.

    3) If you add the nonfollow attribute, it doesn’t pass PR and therefore no value for the link.

    4) If you are not in the Google index, you get no PR, and therefore no value to the link.

    So, if PR has any value, you are going to lose it either way, if you get dumped by Google or if you add the nofollow attribute.

    My approach has been the same though, since we have seen NO drop in site traffic, we don’t really care what the PR is. We just hope the clients keep buying the links anyway.

    If Google had been thinking correctly, they would have started offering a text link brokering service. They would be making more money and not had all the bad PR(Public Relations).

    1. Karol Krizka says:

      I think many people buy links from TLA to use as actual advertisements to get more traffic, especially when they are embedded in RSS feeds, not for the PR. However there are other services, like TNX, that are tailored especially for increasing PageRank.

  66. Drew says:

    I still don’t get this, what are you supposed to do then? Cancel all paid links? No point having no follow crap.

    1. Fred Wood says:

      Hi Drew,

      It depends on why they are paying you for links.

      If they are paying for traffic, then add the no-follow and maintain your PR.

      If they are paying for PR, then don’t add the no-follow and hope Google doesn’t track you down.


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