How John Chow Overoptimized Himself Right out of Google

I am sure that you have all heard of John Chow.

He runs the extremely successful blog John The site has gone from making a couple hundred bucks a month to making over $12k in June of 2007. A true blogging success story which ranks up there with Steve Pavlina and Darren Rowse. All three could easily pay their bills and more with their blogs.

However, John is learning firsthand that when you try to game Google, it will come back and bite you in the ass. When I say that he optimized himself right out of Google, I don't mean his entire site; I mean that if you search for "John Chow" in Google, his site won't show up. This is always the result of some sort of penalty applied by Google, most likely an overoptimization penalty.

A while ago, John hatched his "Review my site on your Blog and I will give you a backlink on my blog" plan. Basically, you write a blog posting including a link to John's site with "Make Money Online" as the anchor text, and John would post a "batch" of ten sites with a hyperlink to each site. In terms of acquiring backlinks, this was a very smart move, and I am sure that John has made tens of thousands of dollars from this link scheme, as his Technorati rating has gone way up and he can charge more for ReviewMe reviews.

The problem is that when you combine the thousands of sites with links to John's site and with "Make Money Online with John Chow" as the anchor text, and the over-optimized nature of John's site, you have a recipe for disaster. It became pretty obvious that John was going to really go after the "Make Money Online" keyword; every second post it seemed had "Make Money Online" somewhere in the title.

The problem is that Google doesn't like people who try to game their system. Google wants sites to naturally acquire backlinks, and not hatch these linking schemes in order to get thousands of backlinks. This is not a natural way of getting links, and of course Google isn't going to like it. So they have penalized John's site. Not only is he gone for his own name, but his ranking for many keywords, including "make money online", have dropped off the face of the earth.

John realized, too late, that he should have been mixing up the anchor text that people were using to link to his site. This would have avoided an overoptimization penalty.

The question is, can John bounce back? Of course, Google can be very forgiving if you remedy the problem. But he should really try to get people who link to his site to mix up the anchor text that they use for their links. Also, he should keep writing high quality content and hope for some powerful one way links from other authority sites. Lastly, he should not optimize his homepage for any other particular keyword anymore. The more natural his site is, the more that Google will like it.

Filed under: Making Money Online | General Knowledge

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