If you’ve done a Google search lately for ‘make money online’, you know that John Chow is no longer ranked #1. If you do a search for ‘John Chow’, JohnChow.com doesn’t come up until page 7, at least on the datacenter that’s pulling up at my house. Where is he coming up where you all live?

He first ran into trouble about a month ago (May 31st) when he first lost his ranking as the #1 ‘make money onliner’. That felt like a fluke to me, especially since his homepage dropped out of the index. He wouldn’t tell how he was able to get it back into the index – I can tell you that he was likely able to do that by setting his homepage as his most important page with an XML sitemap. He probably just made or altered the sitemap, and submitted it to Google Webmaster Tools.

This time it seems to me like he has bigger problems. Since he was the only one of the top 10 that dropped like a rock, this feels like a manual penalty. If it is, John will likely lose most of his Google traffic, even for long-tail keywords.

Why John Got Sent To The Penalty Box

John’s being sent to the penalty box was likely due to one of the following theories:

  • His overly-aggressive link baiting. While his link baiting is masterful, it isn’t a natural way to get links. It’s one of those things that a lot of people could get away with, but John got caught since he got too big. I guess when you’re that big it’s only a matter of time until the wrong person sees how you’re getting all those links.
  • He’s linking to a ton of unrelated sites that add little or no value to his ‘make money online’ subject material. He’s got 15 site-wide, sponsored links and has done 87 batches with his ‘review for a linkback’ promotion. That’s a lot of out-bound links that are pointing to sites. It is a definite possibility that his continued linking to such sites passed over some kind of Google boundary, triggering a filter. His 15 sponsored links are especially dangerous since he has over 3000 pages in Google’s index – that’s 45,000 outbound links that aren’t related to his subject material.

The Sad Truth

I’m not sure if John’s rankings are going to be coming back this time. I sincerely hope that I’m wrong, but it doesn’t look good. Luckily for John, the majority of his traffic doesn’t come from Google anymore. He has a very established readership already. Let me throw out a few ramifications of this penalty though.

  • His advertisers aren’t getting as much value now. Links from him aren’t as powerful since he has obviously been penalized. It’s sad, but if I was advertising there I’d back out now. Those sites aren’t getting PR6 value anymore.
  • His traffic will be hurt to a certain degree. It will be harder to grow – I’m sure he was getting at least 1,000 visitors a day from Google. Now I bet he’s getting a lot less than that.

Does anyone have a theory about why John got sent to the penalty box?

Can anyone think of any other problems this could cause?