Defying Google as a Business Model – Do You Follow?

This post was guest blogged by Alan Johnson, the author of The Online Business Handbook.

Since we have our very own John Chow as a perfect example of a person who has chosen to make defying Google an important part of his business model, let’s try to find out if this strategy is recommended for everyone or if that is not exactly the case.

First of all, we have Google’s business model: “We can send free targeted traffic your way, but you have to do as we say”. Yes, their decisions are definitely controversial and yes, they are anything but perfect but, as the biggest player in search, it comes with the territory.

If your SEO campaign is too aggressive, they will drop you like there’s no tomorrow and, the same way, if you choose to sell links, don’t add the “nofollow” attribute and get caught, they will lower your PR just like that. Under such circumstances, a logical question arises: can they get away with it?

Unfortunately, They Can!

Given the fact that the competition isn’t exactly making Google’s life hard, they can unfortunately get away with just about anything. “But it’s my website, why can’t I sell links as I please?”, you may ask. You can sell links, nobody is pointing a gun at you, but (and here’s where it gets tricky): if you want their traffic, you have to play by their rules.

It doesn’t sound fair, but that’s the way things work in the real world. That being stated, you have an important decision to make as far as your approach towards Google is concerned and let’s start by analyzing:

The “Evil” Approach

I’m sure that the word “evil” makes it clear which website I will be using as a case study. John Chow has approached the market with his “evil” attitude when it comes to making money online, and the big G made no exception.

In fact, defying Google actually represents a fairly important part of his business model. “I don’t care”, that’s basically what John’s attitude towards Google is all about. He doesn’t care about penalties and he doesn’t care about the fact that they have lowered his PR as a result of the fact that he sells links. Let’s analyze the advantages and disadvantages of his approach as far as John Chow dot Com is concerned.


  • Branding benefits, with his attitude towards Google being something which has contributed to his “evil” image
  • Google haters = loyal readers (it’s fair to assume that more than a few people who absolutely hate Google have chosen to follow this blog as a result of this approach)
  • The fact that he has proven that he is able to generate traffic without the big G (or, in other words, confidence in his skills as a marketer)
  • Exposure (after all, more than a few webmasters have written about his approach and I’m sure you know what that means: more exposure for his blog)


  • Less traffic from Google as a result of his aggressive SEO campaign
  • A lower PR as a result of the fact that he sells links

All in all, you can see that this approach has actually worked out for him, no matter what people have said at the beginning and, at the moment of writing, he is still defying Google. Guess why:

Because He Can Afford It!

Yes, he doesn’t receive a lot of traffic from Google but more than a few other sources compensate for that. Yes, he isn’t ranking for “John Chow”, but the pages which rank for that term are about him anyway.

All in all, the exposure he has received as a result of his attitude towards Google has proven to be worth it as far as is concerned, but is that the case for everyone?

Risk vs. Reward

Sure, John Chow can afford it, but can you? In the end, speaking in general terms is impossible and it’s all a matter of risk vs. reward. If you don’t play by their rules, you risk losing the traffic they send your way as well as your PR.

It’s your responsibility to analyze your business model and decide if such an attitude is worth it as far as your website is concerned. Where would your website be without traffic from Google? How much could you earn if, for example, you were to start selling links today?

Obviously, if you could only earn about 10% of your website’s income by selling links and if Google counts for let’s say 40% of your website’s traffic, starting to sell links would simply be foolish on your part. Is that 10% actually worth losing almost half of your traffic? Of course not!

And remember: if you sell links and get caught, your PR will be lowered and the value of a link from your website automatically decreases as well, it’s a vicious circle. The same way, if your website is new but search engine traffic is an important part of your business model, you have to play by their rules if you are interested in long-term traffic from Google.

What Will Your Approach Be?

The final decision, my friend, is yours and only yours to make. You have John Chow as an example of how defying Google can work in your favor on the one hand, yet you also have more than a few webmasters who currently wish they had played by Google’s rules on the other.

Based on your business model and on the risk vs. reward ratio of a certain attitude towards Google as far as your website is concerned, you have to determine what you want to do next. Remember: it’s not a matter of what works best, it’s a matter of what works best for you.