John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

johnon.com  Competitive Web & SEO

Why This Blog is a Failure

Every once in a while some blogger in my space will hint that I don’t know how to manage this blog. It’s usually subtle… a reference about how one of my posts might have had a big impact if I had just…. or how posts should be short with pictures, not long and wordy like mine…. or how “teaching sells” and negativity hurts in the long run……Sometimes I get mentioned as an example of how not to be successful.

Funny. These people don’t know my goals, and yet they seem comfortable suggesting I am not meeting them. Know what’s even funnier? Sometimes my goal is to target those exact people, to get them to read my words. Hah. Take that to the bank, if you CAN (snicker snicker).

But I do concede that I will NEVER be any good at link baiting in the SEO world. I will also argue that this johnon.com blog is not a qualified example of an attempt, because even with thousands more back links and more broad English-language appeal than the local restaurant currently ranking #1 for John Andrews, Google won’t rank this blog #1 for John Andrews. But, even if Google wasn’t messing around with the natural order of the search results, I would be miserable at link baiting in the information providing space. The reason? Well, it isn’t truly because I don’t like to give away SEO secrets. I would do that for rank. It is because I am simply not good at pretending to be dumb. I can’t, for example, proclaim with a straight face that it is not dangerous to give away code. Hell I can’t even link to it with a straight face. It would be so phony, even I couldn’t stomach it on my blog.

A post like that… one making an absurd statement and backing it with circuitous logic is great link bait. You get the people who like you to comment “great post” and link to it saying “Abhijit makes a great case for giving away your code”. You get people like Matt of WordPress Fame to link to you, because it shows others that there is an argument being made for giving away code (even if Matt holds back any endorsement so he can flip either way on the issue later, you got the link!). You even get contrarians like me linking to you because your link bait is so… unbelievable. Done well, the argument that giving away code is not dangerous can be so evasive the sheer illogic of it can cause others to comment about that fact alone (and link to it). Check out Mark Jackson’s response to the trolling :

Wow! I am amazed that no one here sees the faulty premise of this analogy. Only two people seem to understand how ridiculous this analogy is; and one is an artist.

Hey Mark, careful about that prejudice against artists! We need those gems in our otherwise monochrome world. I can’t imagine a world of just engineers, Engineers, and…. insurance people. Yuch.

Anyway I could never pull it off, and so no links for me!

***Update: IncrediBill submitted this to marketing site Sphinn so if you like it, consider adding a vote (Sphinn) to move it to the front page and increase it’s exposure. It has 19 votes and needs 25 or so to get promoted.

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26 Responses to “Why This Blog is a Failure”

  1. Abhijit Nadgouda Says:

    Thanks for your opinion on this. I was going to say thanks for linking, but held back, as it was truly not an effort at link bait.

    I have developed my beliefs in open source and it has worked for my software development process. This was an effort at making it simpler for freshers to understand. I have written a follow up on the blog, but let me clarify one thing here itself that by giving away I meant open sourcing the code. Which means that there is no loss of ownership, in fact licenses make sure that you get appropriate credibility for your code.

  2. Jeremy Luebke Says:

    I consider a blog such as this with solid information and interesting opinions in every post to be very successful. Some people can’t understand not wanting to be the next big blog. Some of us have real work to do :)

  3. Stuart Says:

    Exactly what Jeremy said. Popular blogs quite often aren’t worth the cost of the bytes used to produce the waffle. On the other hand unpopular blogs that deliver “solid information” are worth more than their weight in gold.

  4. joe Says:

    Wow, I didn’t know you had haters…You’re blog does a terrible job of feeding the senseless need for tips and lists, so I’m not surprised you consider yourself a failure. If you have lots of time on your hands maybe you could throw together a JohnOnChow.com.

  5. Brian Provost Says:

    Don’t change a thing. Your signal-to-noise level is much appreciated.

  6. Bill Says:

    John,

    We meet in Seattle for lunch with Ken after the SMX conference, and I have read your blog and enjoyed it since then.

    Some people just can’t read between the lines.

    It is the old “finger pointing at the moon” thingy.

    Wishing you the best in 2008!

    Bill

  7. aaron wall Says:

    When I mentioned that your blog was not popular… I was stating that as in “it should be more popular due to the high quality of it.” It was a compliment, and indeed I read every word you post here. :)

    Ps: Please send source code ;)

  8. john andrews Says:

    @aaron: You did what? You said my blog was not popular? I must have missed that.

    @brian: thanks for the word. I wanted to say hello at Pubcon but I was intimidated by the roudy peeps lol. I know my strengths.

    @bill: thanks and good luck reading between the lines. I missed you at pubcon this year.

    @joe: JohnOnChow.com now that’s funny. I need to find time to make more SEO Secret stuff. There is soooooo much material to work with.

    and finally, @Abhijit: Thanks for caring. Go back and clarify your post re: open source vs. free software vs. “giving away your code” and it will read better. I will post something related soon, because I have experience with code finding its way to other projects that some might find interesting.

  9. Matt McGee Says:

    We should all fail so successfully…

    Best wishes for ’08, John.

  10. Danny Sullivan Says:

    Not a failure in my book. It was one of my new additions for 2007 and something I’d list among “gotta read” feeds for SEO.

  11. Todd Mintz Says:

    You share a lot of love on your blog…that’s why everyone reads it :.)

  12. SisterSledge Says:

    Hmmm…Firefox has the ability to display bookmarks right in the browser just below the address bar, and John, yours is the only blog I have so bookmarked. All the other blogs I might read are bookmarked in a “blog” folder that truly I rarely bother with. The combination of light snarkiness along with solid opinions on topics less covered elsewhere always draws me back for another look-see at what John’s got goin’on.

  13. Ray Says:

    There is no such thing as a failing blog, only a blog that has yet to develop in the eyes of it’s instigator and with a lot of hard work also in the eyes of its , ….i was going to say ” readers ” but there is no such thing lol so I’ll say in the eyes of ” ob-serving folks ” :)

    Long live the fingers that dance through the valley of speaking poet,it’s all poetry, no matter who why what or how, the written word is the instigator of revolutions no matter how dumb or articulate it might be seen, as there is no pleasing everyone, if we could, there would be no need to even bother.

    If you have a product, give it away for free, it will hurt like hell, but didn’t you know that the gods love sacrifice? and the marketing gods are no different, they will reward you if your product lights the way for people.

    The trick is to give your heart and soul, give away everything, hold back nothing,
    you then will have created all the trust on the world and a list as long and as deep as your marketing visionn

    If you think of your potential customer as just that ” a customer ” then you will surely forget that fundamental understanding of relationship building, if you ever forget that, you will wake in ten years time wondering why your business stands like an ole ” for sale ” sign blowing in the wind on a cold and lonely winters night.

    Give and you will get, share and you will recieve, deliver and you will become the richest and wisest investor and the world will ask you how you did it, and when you tell them, they will not believe you.

    :)

  14. IncrediBILL Says:

    Sphinn is just like a bar, you must be 21 Sphinns old to hit the front page which happened this afternoon.

    Have you every tried removing that stupid hyphen in front of the page title? Doubt it would help but it sure wouldn’t hurt to get rid of it.

    Anyway, now that your failure is a success, what shall you do for an encore John?

  15. Charlie Anzman Says:

    Title worked for me :)

    Happy New Year John … Keep the ‘opinions’ coming !

  16. Druck Scots Hobo Says:

    “I will also argue that this johnon.com blog is not a qualified example of an attempt, because even with thousands more back links and more broad English-language appeal than the local restaurant currently ranking #1 for John Andrews, Google won’t rank this blog #1 for John Andrews”

    Hmmm…. just because it takes time and you cant control lab investigation doesn’t mean your not winning or not knowing your doing the right stuff for the next Google shuffle. It’s only one link away ;)

    But saying that you were talking about motives. I thought Johnon was the brand.

    Happy new year (hic)!

  17. Joost de Valk Says:

    John, there’s no failure to be found here… I read every word of this blog religiously :)

  18. Sam Philp Says:

    In reality I always find that genuine, reliable and interesting sources like yours are very succesful it just takes time. You are appealig to a smaller market (one that will read every word, probably make comments) of highly interested and motivated people. Although the link baiters acheive their aims in the short term you have readership that will continue to grow have a high reader retention rate.

  19. Jim McNelis Says:

    highly original content. Sphun!

  20. Google Search Sucks Says:

    This blog is far from a failure, one of the few sources of insight out there on the web. Keep up the good work. I would trade 1000 SEOmoz type blogs for just one more blog like yours. Also, that SEO secrets pages are hilarious.

  21. Andrew Beeston Says:

    Hey John,

    I don’t know you – I’ve never met you, read your blog, and I’m too far away to have lunch with you, and even if I had lunch with you I’d bore you to tears ’cause I’ve nothing important to say. BUT – I thought your entire post was the update so I read the whole thing hoping that the proper post would begin. Alas I was mistaken and now I’ve gone and learned something. *sigh*

    ~Andrew.

    p.s. I also added you to my rss feed. “Great”
    p.p.s. Please send this fantastic code you speak of.

  22. randfish Says:

    John – I can’t understand how you would think that this blog isn’t a huge success. I can’t think of an influential person in the field of SEO who doesn’t know of the site and yourself thanks to the branding achieved on the blog. You may not have the “mass appeal,” of more established blogs and sites, but the content here is of consistently higher quality than 99% of the material out there, and we all know it.

  23. SEOGal Says:

    Personally, I can’t thank you enough for saying what all of us are thinking. Looking forward to what’s to come in 2008.

  24. john andrews Says:

    @SEOGal: Thanks, and did you know I wore the “Don’t Tell Matt Cutt’s” shirt at PubCon? At one point Jim Boynkin actually took my picture because he wanted a shot of the shirt. I’ve successfully avoided being trophied by We Build Pages so far, but the shirt might show up. If it does, and I’m identifiable, I’ll tell him he has to link back to you guys.

  25. SEOGal Says:

    Your coolness factor just grows by the day…thanks again for the support. Sorry I missed the “shirtification” of PubCon. Don’t fool yourself, though. I’m sure Jim was just trying to get at your source code. ;)

  26. One Year Millionaire Says:

    I love your posts…. your blog isn’t a failure