John Chow: Clever Blogger… Dare I Say Internet Marketer?

Mass of MoneyJohn Chow caught my eye a few months ago when he started announcing his monthly earnings off of his blog. His February 2007 blogging income exceeded $7,000, with revenue coming from such sites as ReviewMe, Adsense, and Text-Link-Ads. His success has brought him a great deal of subscribers, myself included. I began watching how his blog, which is really more a personal musings site, gained him credibility and a real following (his February earnings post has 258 comments).

The interesting thing is that John Chow is not just a “blogger.” He’s a clever Internet Marketer, and he’s using that to his fullest advantage while his subscriber numbers are large and continuously growing.

Take, for example, his “Review My Blog” series. He introduced the series in December of 2006, encouraging bloggers to write and offering reciprocal links to reviews (as an added incentive, the best review writer gets a MiniTV USB). So far, there are 37 batches of reviews, each with 10 reviews (will this post make batch 38? I’m not quite writing for the review!)

What has that done for John? When he started the “Review My Blog” series, he was ranked 1,529 on Technorati. Now? Well, Technorati seems to have removed the rankings, but he broke 1,000 shortly after his series announcement.

A few days ago, John announced the Evil Blog Contest. The goal? Link to John’s blog with the phrase “make money online” and link to the post’s sponsor, 1234Pens.com with the anchor text “promotional pens.” Then, tell John you’ve entered and win a chance to score a nice Nintendo Wii.

Unsuspecting bloggers will surely participate in John’s contest, not realizing that his intentions are exactly that of clever (deceptive?) Internet Marketing. John understands the fine art of link building, and this will, without a doubt, promote both him and the pen company. All that link anchor text coming from a variety of different sites will rank him quite high for “make money online” in the SERPs (search engine results pages), and 1234Pens.com will rank higher in the SERPs for “promotional pens.” Right now, neither is on page 1 in Google (although according to a search I just performed with a highly recommended SEO analysis tool, it appears that 1234Pens is doing well as reported from other Google data centers — where it sits at position #8 — and on other search engines). John’s site is on page 2 in position #13, but I’ll bet he covets Darren Rowse’s #4 position for the same search term.

John’s tactics are slick, questioningly cunning, and it’s gaining him more credibility and a ton of revenue, which is doing him and his affiliates a lot of good. For the price of a Wii, the business that John and anyone who forges partnerships with him will get will have much more value than the Wii’s retail price. I’d be surprised if his March revenue doesn’t top $10,000.

9 Comments

  • Judah says:

    Capitalism at its best.

  • Jon says:

    I’m a longtime John Chow fan. But I admit his recent technorati tactics seem a bit “evil” – even for John Chow! Unabashed linkbaiting in a brazenly open attempt to game Technorati and ultimately Google as well. If everyone engaged in this behavior, systems like Google and Technorati would become meaningless. This seems a bit ominous to me…

    Moreover, JohnChow.com is getting a bit harder to read because of all the constant $$$ reviewme posts now!

    I’m a big John Chow groupie, so I hope he turns things around. His blog may be getting a bit out of hand in the evil department…. :)

  • Johnny_Cash says:

    This post has been added to Johnny’s weekly blogmark:

    BlogMark

  • @Jon: I agree completely. I think the idea of making money has truly gotten to his head. His behavior as of late is very questionable. I know Technorati penalized him, but I wonder if such behavior would (should?) incur a Google delisting penalty.

    You are right about the ReviewMe posts. The quality of his posts have diminished, but he’s doing just fine on the financial front. I wonder if he realizes that he’s not providing quality content to his readers? I don’t read many of his posts anymore, though I found the Technorati response pretty darn ironic. ;)

    I miss the old John Chow who used to actually think about benefiting his readers, not himself.

    @Johnny_Cash: Thanks!

  • Ajith says:

    I agree with you but there is onr fact, you said unsuspecting bloggers link to him right.. wrong I am suspecting and have linked to him but only with a nofollow tag..thats it (i had to add hi coz i red it regularly – BTW i havnt reviewed him for the link back and i wont do it..)

  • Ajith: You are maybe one (two, three?) of perhaps the 400+ bloggers who has done that. Naturally, not everyone is clueless, but a good amount of them are, unfortunately.

    I am losing respect for John, but he got what he came for.

    Best thing right now is for everyone to link to this post instead of johnchow.com :D Now that would be evil.

  • Hawaii SEO says:

    Aloha Tamar,

    I think itís very relevant. Making money online is the only reason I subscribe to and read his blog.

    The other results that rank well for the term are selling products & get-rich-quick schemes.

    John is teaching general theory and providing real life examples & results. (IMO) John seems to be the most relevant listing on the first page of results.

    Can you recommend some other resources for “making money online” that donít get the attention they deserve?

  • Dave,

    You make a good point. I didn’t exactly review John’s competitors for the same search term but then, if it’s all those “get rich quick” schemes, I’d say that John’s post is simply “more relevant” than the others. Darren Rowse’s blog at problogger.net really is one of those “make money online” blogs that I would consider even more relevant than John’s, and it shows. His blogs really provide a service to the community over John’s every-other-post-is-a-written-ad blog.

    I actually commented on John’s blog today about the relevancy of the results (I’m assuming that’s what sent you here, even though you’ve commented before ;) )

    My first comment was:

    Itís nice to be transparent, John, but donít you consider this very suspicious and a way to game the search engines? I actually blogged about it a little while ago.

    Iím not sure many people are finding much relevancy in ďmake money online??? from your blog. You tell others how YOU made money, but unless they had the same link juice as you, it does nothing for new folks and would have them running in circles. If anyoneís making money online, itís the companies youíre promoting, particularly 1234pens.com with the contest youíre holding. Iím not sure why folks would want you to review their service either; a lot of people are truthfully getting overwhelmed by those paid reviews, myself included.

    I could be in the minority here, and it seems that you have a very big community of stauch supporters, but I even question thatÖ

    Donít get me wrong, John. I subscribe to your blog and have been reading for a good amount of time. But even you admit to being ďevil??? and I think the money is getting to your head.

    Then another Dave said:

    While I agree not many of his posts are about making money online. The occasional posts he does have are solid gold. Like his adwords affiliate marketing + getting traffic to your blog post.

    And I replied with:

    And thatís why Iím here. :)

    I guess itís just the way I see it. Would you watch a 6 minute TV show in a 30 minute time slot knowing that the other 24 minutes were commercials? Probably not.

    Johnís got the audience and heís smart. The problem is leveraging that audience and keeping them interested. Right now, that audience includes individuals like you and me, who find value in those ďgolden??? posts, and also individuals who are interested in investing in him financially. It is his responsibility to take a vested interest in both sides. I would say, however, that the interest is skewing in the favor of where the moneyís at, which for him really is not his readers. That leaves people like me and you questioning whether he should really be ranked for ďmake money online??? because Google is *very* concerned about relevance and this site begs the question whether the blog really is relevant.

    Would a better solution to be creating a site that has only the tips to make money online? Of course not, because all of these advertisers would never get the exposure if he did.

    Was I way off?

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