The Screw Google Mentality

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2 weeks ago in my keynote speech at IzeaFest I had Screw Google as a bullet point in one of my slides.  When the slide came up it got a big reaction from the crowd.  Now I have traveled a bit since – blogworld, and then last weekendi n San Diego – SEO Thinktank.

Various people at times made remarks about “screw Google” so  I wanted to make a post about what I was talking about.

First lets set the correct context.  My slide was about how to be a successful webmaster and I said one of my best tips I can tell anyone is to adopt a “Screw Google” mentality.

Basically if people pretended like Google never existed or like they were blacklisting in Google its the best thing they could ever do.  This applies from many things Google…  From SEO to AdSense.

I have talked to so many people recently who are asking questions about SEO or niche keywords before they have even started building their website.  SERIOUSLY?!?!?

The most successful sites I know of have a screw Google mentality.

They are successful because people want to use them…  People bookmark them….  People recommend them to their friends.

Now people will read this and think its another anti-seo post …. and thats pretty silly…    I have always been a student of SEO and respect it (even though its much less important and will not matter eventually).

And as far as Google Adsense goes…. if it wasn’t for Google Adsense I would not even have this blog or a lot of my company.

So the point of this…  Just ask yourself what would happen if your site was suddenly blacklisted in Google.  Could it survive?

170 thoughts on “The Screw Google Mentality

    1. Franklin Bishop

      I love having the screw Google mentality. I mean who really gives a shit about Google itself. We all just need to market to people that are going to talk about us to other people on the Internet. I really do not worry about search engine traffic. That is the least of my worries and Google can really go suck on one. I know that John Chow really doesn’t care about them either and he seems to be doing fine.

      1. Goran Website

        Yes, no site has to be structured to please Google. There are other alternatives to market oneself on the net without Google. They aren’t the gods of the internet as everyone makes them out to be.

      1. Affiliate Famous

        If your relying solely on Google for traffic and your not
        getting much in the way of repeat business you probably
        don’t have much in the way of a long term business model.

    2. LinkXL

      So true – and we have the “Screw Google” attitude. Our site is blacklisted for over a year now in Google and traffic grows every day along with sales. Google is not the be-all to end-all.

  1. David

    If my site was suddenly blacklisted I’d have other sites to work on as a backup plan. As some would say “never put your eggs all in one basket,” but if that site was my highest earning site then I may have to work some things out with Google lol

    1. mrkbsm

      If you are looking at it from an financial standpoint, this is very good advice. Time is usually a constraint when a person is working on more than one site at a time, but the end result is independent sources of income.
      Also, a good reason to not have multiple sites all propping each other up in a PR ring or somesuch – otherwise if Google slaps you, they might slap more than just one site. As the timeless advice goes, “you gotta keep ‘em separated”.

    2. Nathan

      Best advice I’ve ever gotten or given about this game is split everything. Split your traffic between multiple offers/affiliate networks (if you’re involved in that), have multiple properties, and always be working on the next thing. Even a little scheme that only makes a few dollars per day, can be just that insulation you need when something breaks, you get slapped, or whatever other sort of shit rains down.
      But, yeah. Google giveth and Google taketh.

  2. Internet Cowboy

    I think that pretty much any site that has (1) value and (2) established loyal/repeat visitors would survive.

    Your blog will survive easily.

    BTW, can you give me an idea on what’s the average wait period for the shirt reviewing. Sent mine in August.

  3. Clog Money

    I think you need a time a place to screw google. If you are building a made for adsense type site then it makes sense to study your keywords. If you’re looking for a site which is going to be consistently make money then I agree 100% with the above. At least that’s the mentality I’m taking with my blog.

  4. Jason Winn

    Too true. It took me about 5 years to finally get this through my head. There are far too many people out there that think that Google rankings are the magic bullet to wealth. The ones that make it in this game are the ones that create quality, innovate, and continue add value to their sites. Be the first to innovate a quality service ie, Twitter, MySpace, Digg, NextPimp and you stand a better chance to hit the jackpot. Shoe (forgive me for possibly speaking out of turn) didn’t get to where he is by coping the Google rankings = money mentality.

  5. Mark - The Niche Store Builder

    Actually, having been on the front end of this exact thing, I can relate! I have one specific site that has more than 10,000 inlinks and was even featured in an article on the front page of AP for a week!

    Well… I had Build a Niche Store on the site. Yes, it was an affiliate site, but it was literally LOADED with my own unique content as well. BANS was just the backend for managing the ePN feed.

    I wrote a post on my own blog about the site being featured on AP, the search metrics, Google search metrics, etc and within days, it was manually delisted from the G-index. Without an exact reason, I assume it was OVER SEO’d…

    Fast forward several months and due to the content (Which now has WP on the root) the traffic from bookmarks, subscribers, Yahoo, MSN and other engines still bring signifigant traffic to the site, albeit 40% less than before.

    In the end, I just go about my own business on it as if G didnt exist, which in this case… it really doesn’t!

    Mark

  6. Vincent Sparreboom

    One of my biggest blogs went with two updates from a PR5 -> PR4 -> PR0. With the first update I started panicking and was I afraid that I would lose a big portion of my income; now that I’m “used” to it I see no difference in my visitors count and I’m also ranking number 3 in Google for a single keyword. This particular page went from a PR3 to PR0.

    I just keep on doing my SEO and try to rank high for specific keywords and what kind of PR Google gives me, I really don’t care.

    I also changed my work a bit from writing reviews to doing more in affiliate marketing because advertisers would like to see a high PR.

    I’m a happy blogger now that I’m not worrying about the big G.

    1. Thai Girl

      I think you mean you got slapped by them? I did as well recently and I did depend on them. So I got owned. That nice stream of income is all gone.
      You have to diversify. I just wish it was as easy as slapping on that Adsense code!

    1. Jacques Snyman

      Google is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the search engines of this world, there is no argueing that. However, even a champion can be knocked out with a sucker punch, and odds are that it will happen sooner or later.

    1. Adam - Creadiv.com

      Exactly!

      If you are relying on Google as your main source of traffic, you are not providing a service that people truly care for. I mean word of mouth travels much faster than the word of Google and if your site was good people would spread the word.

  7. mrkbsm

    I think I’d be lying if I said that a loss of Google search traffic wouldn’t hurt. I could probably get the numbers back up, it would just take a bit of time.

  8. MouthyGirl

    I adopted that with MouthyGirl since my first site took a big hit in rankings from Google in it’s first six months…I don’t pay any attention at all to the rankings on MG. I think it’s worked well for me…it’s still early. ;)

  9. stefan

    It all comes down to creating a great end user experience, if users find your site useful and pass it on to their friends and link to it, then Search Engine success will follow.

    Ha, I can see how people would take ‘screw google’ the wrong way.

  10. Bryn Youngblut

    I completey agree, I don’t worry about SEO, backlinking, or even pagerank too much. It’s nice to have a high PR but what really matters is if people like your site, as you made famous: Build websites for people not search engines. Luckily for me I have always done this simply because I didn’t know a ton about SEO nor cared, content is king.

    1. SMM Guru

      Thats like my new blog… PR1 and alexa rank 300,000… 3 weeks or so of blogging so that ain’t to shabby I guess. I dropped over 5 million places on alexa.com in two weeks lol

  11. jim

    Anytime you become reliant on any one thing, be it Google, a particular stream of income, you set yourself up for problems if something ever happens to that one thing. Diversify!

  12. Jason

    I concur. How many people walk into a VC’s office and respond to questions about marketing, profitability, traffic, users, etc with answers that include “Google”? It’s called marketing *mix* for a reason. You need several avenues to get to success, Google can be a part of it but it can’t be most of it.

  13. Jonclaude

    My blog is my business if google blacklisted me I going be
    off online. The problem with big search engine like google
    it forced you “put all your eggs in one basket” that is not
    good if you looking at financial standpoint.
    For SEO point of view with need to be more creatif…

    1. TYCP Entertainment Magazine

      I don’t think they’re really FORCING anyone, but they’re definitely trying to make people think that if you get blacklisted in Google, you’re automatically screwed. And that couldn’t be further from the truth.

  14. George Boone

    EXACTLY Shoe.

    I made a post on my old bog a long time ago about this It was an anti-seo post to be honest but it shared the same mentality. If you make your site viral and a household name people will type it in and tell their friends.

    You’d be a fool to gamble the success of your business and livelihood on the whim of a search algorithm. Success in SEO is temporary success at best. Hands down the most successful sites on the net get more type in and direct link traffic than Google traffic. That’s a fact. The rest that focus on SEO are just crumb snatchers feeding on their crumb key phrases like “myspace layouts”.

  15. AdvertiseSpace

    I couldn’t agree with you more. So many people have all their eggs in one basket with a keyword ranking on Google that once it drops they have no other traffic for backup.

  16. TheAnand

    That means that creating niche sites over the google traffic is a short term strategy! I think word of mouth is a good source for traffic, but not if you have a domain like howtogetridofspinomelengitis.com!

  17. Patrick

    I agree with you. However, people can still make large amounts of money for almost nothing by ranking high in a top search keyword or phrase. It may not last, but you can get a good chunk of change for awhile.

  18. Steven-Sanders

    Great article. I look at Google adsense as the bloggers wellfare. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great tool to use, but going with other affiliate networks and trying to migrate as far from being dependent upon Google as possible is definitely key.

    Don’t put all your eggs in one basket for sure.

  19. Custom T-Shirts

    Google brings in over 50% of traffic. But it’s interesting to note that Google’s traffic doesn’t convert nearly as well as other traffic so my income wouldn’t fall in proportion to the traffic decrease.

  20. Bondox

    Wao, nice info here man. Not everybody will agree with you. But it do make sense if one can think outside google.

    ok, what if google sinks itself? what will happen to the internet?

    1. SMM Guru

      Or is it the worst? Their monopolistic control could become pretty serious. Especially if Google gets to the point and then the govt splits them up. Who gets control over what, and what about all of the sensitive data?

  21. Copywriters Needed- No Experience Required- $200/hr

    I hope the reaction from the “screw google” theme was a good one because I am sort of feeling the same way. So many webmasters are putting emphasize on web content, SEO and backlinks that it is starting to get ridiculous. So many people are missing the point of social networking, which is the real way you make money online!

  22. Tushar Dhoot

    I understand what you mean. You’re always bumping people who are like “Oh, I REALLY need more google traffic” or “Do x and get your google traffic to quadruple in 2 days”.

    I wish people would give it a rest.

    1. coderbari

      Yeah. That’s a big true. Many websites solely depends on search engine traffic. But do they have real power attract those traffic? I went to many websites following search results and they were complete BS. I would never visit them again.

  23. Cath Lawson

    Hi Shoe – I hear what you’re saying. The biggest percentage of my traffic is returning visitors. I don’t optimize every page – for a long time I was too lazy to do much optimization at all – although I do make more of an effort now.

    It’s nice to get traffic from Google but I wouldn’t want to rely on it completely – I’m too used to getting banned from places.

  24. Eric D

    Wouldn’t you really take this a step further and build your website and keep it updated as if the only visitors were human visitors? If we adopt a “screw all search engines” mentality and develop and design for humans then the natural outcome should be a naturally occurring SEO effort (or non-effort really). It has been my experience that the ability for my website to provide and answer or solution to someone who then tells someone else is the best way to go. Yes it is much slower but then real long term success is built over a lengthy period of time, not overnite.

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  26. PTC Blog

    At the end of the day you have to buld your business to survive if google didnt send you any traffic, that is just a solid business practice! You can never build your business around another business when the secondary business does not care about you!

  27. ways to earn online

    I agree with this post. I am now starting to not think so much about getting my site ready for Google. I am just going to blog about what matters. Even though I think SEO helps with search engine rankings, I am beginning to see some number 1 search results that come up with pr0′s and it looks like they didn’t do much seo either.

  28. Leo the parisian

    I totally agree about the “screw google” mentality and tried to build my site accordingly…but I would not refuse some readers coming from google too so I must confess I do check my keywords from time to time ;-)

  29. Borgo7

    IMHO It depends. If is a really niche site, only for my friends and my parents, yes it survive. If is a niche site or a big site for other target, no. It never survive.

  30. trbdigital

    Hey Jeremy, I have a little niche site that was getting about 180 uniques a day for a few keywords that I focused on, and itwas starting to grow. Then one day, I was not even ranking for my keywords, and I am still not after about 3 weeks. Not sure what happened, but Google killed my progress in one small instant.

  31. Nicholas Chase

    Jeremy,

    Good point there! Google has provided a vehicle for immense wealth, and just asks for relevant landing pages, a win-win if I have ever heard one.

    Wrapping my head around how to win is my current focus. I have met an SEO consultant who states that he has discovered that SEO and PPC can co-exist given certain prerequisites for success in the business plan.

    He will explain further in a scheduled meeting, true eough, SEOs days may be numbered, but while there is a spark of worthiness, I’ll test it, along with other proven strategies.

    Nicholas – ‘the video guy’ from BlogWorld Expo 2008

  32. andrew

    I see your point here and totally agree with it. To answer your question, yes, most of my sites would survive, but for some of them it will be very hard to do it without google.

  33. Reid

    ha i’m gonna have to admit I was like WHOA… bold statement shoe!!! But then when I read what you had to say, it makes sense. I love the way you think outside the box, or maybe its just smart? ;) Anyways I learned something so thanks…

  34. domainpubber

    You know Shoe, for a MMO site like yours this is great advice. I think for many blogs/web sites that are “how to do” or “ideas for you on X” that search is how people find your site.
    MMO is something webmasters find interesting enough to come back to regularly but a lot of niches don’t really work that way; people have a need and once that need has been satisfied it could be a long time until they return.
    I find this to be the main difference between sites like yours and most of the sites that people make money from in the real world.

  35. joe gelb

    i agree. poser sites dont do well with links and traffic anyways. screw google equals haters but they are blinded by how corporations want them to blog and not by the essence of it which being the fact that the blog is 4 u do do what you want with is and screw everyone else. this is the best post i read ever.

  36. Ari - Laberinto Social

    I agree with Jeremy to the extent that you have to learn to survive with Alternates (you just get better at what you do, if you do).

    I am working with Nate at Unique to see how we can enhance the Newsletter sign up to allow it to call up a visitors contacts, to send them an invite from the visitor (as they go through the newsletter sign up process).

    People that find this type of material interesting are going to be satisfied with its discovery.

    You shouldn’t have to climb over the great Google wall to find them.

  37. Travis

    Being vigilant of life without Google is a MUST in today’s technology world. If you are not able to run your key business without the 800 pound gorilla in the room, then you certainly have way too much reliance on a single company!

  38. Brandon Eley

    Saying “screw Google” may be a little more controversial than simply saying “write for people, not search engines” but that’s what you’re ultimately saying, and you’re right.

    If you write content for search engines alone, your site might (temporarily) rank high for certain phrases but your visitors won’t get any real value out of your content, and they’ll stop visiting your site.

    Write for PEOPLE, and the search engines will find you. Great advice!

  39. River Girl

    I have some newer sites and think I need to concentrate on lots of things, not just Google, but it looms over you like a dark shadow. Good number and you can be happy, bad PR, and you have to get back at it. And no instant gratification. You have to wait, wait, wait.

  40. Arturo Pelayo

    I think it is interesting that as websites and technology develop, we as content creators are increasingly being shaped to write and to develop content in a way that we can index it better.

    But, if the Google effect was not there, what would our content look like?

  41. Zawadi

    Having the “screw Google” mentality would make web masters work harder to improve their site and their wont be much of mfa sites left lol

  42. lasvegascom

    I wouldnt use the term screw google but I do agree that google should not be the rule giver except for on google.

  43. Brian Mark

    There are always plan B type options in place or you don’t have a sound marketing plan. The panel I speak on for shopping search I mention it’s a great safety net in case something goes wrong over at G with a site. We had that happen once and we’re fine. I don’t really want it to happen again, but we’d survive if it did. Sound marketing advice is always get many sources of traffic / income / whatever.

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  46. Kok Choon

    I must agree with Jeremy, successful blogger must have mentality of “put a side” Google and focus on interact with their readers, Blog is written for People and Not Google…!

  47. Johnny

    google has been haunting me since they started the QS issue. it’s like a girl that you’re trying to hook up with..do everything she wants…and then when things are starting to look good…bam! she tears out your heart and eats it. yea…i hate love you google.

  48. Arthur

    Great news yesterday!
    Google is finally going to get some serious competition from Microsoft. MS is going to establish 3 major offices in Norway with the main goal of developing a search engine. I hope it will knock out the arroganse of Google!

        1. Daniel Kemp

          I dont know man. How can you make a search engine that is better than Google? Google finds just what I want so I wont need to go to Microsoft’s search engine.

        2. Arthur

          You will probably find what you need, but visitors wount find you if your site has been banned by the big G. G seem to be shutting down sites for now reason.

  49. TYCP Entertainment Magazine

    I agree with you, Shoe. Sure it’s nice to see your site ranking well in Google, but it’s funny to me how some people act like Google is the be all/end all of the internet. The people that really think that have a lot to learn.

    Like some others said, people need to build sites for their readers/visitors. If they like what they see, they’ll tell their relatives & friends about it & they will talk about it online whether it be through email, message boards or a social service.

  50. Goran Website

    I agree Shoe, as much as Google is the king of search engines, bloggers shouldn’t solely rely on it for traffic. It seems like everyone structures their sites specifically according to Googles standards and don’t even consider other alternatives, making themselves vulnerable at Googles mercy.

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  52. Data Entry Lady

    You’re right. Sometimes you can go too far trying to FIT Google’s model and end up worse off. I put a site up with little content and a narrow audience and without trying found it doing well in searches. I was planning to start SEO on it but decided to let it be. I might mess things up!

  53. pyrmont

    Hey Shoe,

    I Agree with most things people are saying here about having a game plan that insulates one against any possible turbulent biz conditions, however one great thing about google that I love is the fact that, in a funny way, the Big G, enforces Quality Standards, that the vast majority of people online easily pass.

    Admittedly from time to time, matters get out of hand, however all in all, it s kinda like the Pax Romana, it facilitates Commerce and all manner of trading in a Peaceful Environ

  54. Jason Anderson

    This is so true. The “screw Google” philosophy you espouse could also be called “Do exactly what Google wants you to do”. Instead of constantly looking for an edge in the game, just make great sites that work well and provide value to users. That value will come back to you in a SUSTAINABLE way. That isn’t to say that marketing and specifically SEO should be ignored, or that Google can’t be a pain in the ass sometimes, webmasters should just try not to lose sight of the most important objectives… providing users with value.

  55. Action Sports

    I don’t think anyone should just say screw google because there is a lot of valuable traffic in them hills. But I think it’s certainly a great idea to have defensible traffic, so if something happens in google you’re still fine.

  56. Matt Thompson | Mattheosis.com

    While I do use some of their services. I do think they will be monopolizing corporation in the future. Like MS they will find build themselves into a box. Every nation crumbles or is absorbed.

    Best regards, Matt Thompson | Mattheosis.com
    Original Orthodox Hubby @ Home Dad

  57. Ovidiu - LayoutGarden.com

    Well, that’s a tough one. Google rules the internet and forgetting all about it is hard to do, but indeed, I think that is the real value of a site. Direct traffic and referrals, because they both show that people know you and respect you. But again, it’s hard to do it, I don’t know if I could do it myself…

  58. atlanta wedding photographer

    it’s just like anything marketing. You want people to find you but you also want some viral marketing as well. Find your niche and be loyal to it if you do your niche will more times than not be loyal back many many times over. Google is a tool like any other marketing tool. Use it well and you will do well. However, you don’t go and create a site or even the content so that more people will find you. They may find you but once they read what you have they may never come back again.

  59. Linn

    exactly my point. but sometimes, IMHO, google doesn’t give some people fair chance to redeem… especially those who did not cheat.. for me, i never had google adsense or any ads, and trying to make the well-documented mistakes that have been said and done.

    good read… I think everything is equally important.. not only big G’s adSense.. good read.

  60. Costa

    Dear Shoemoney,

    I understand you have a number of BANs stores. I am rather curious as I have a few if those stores myself, If you are going to Screw Google, or whatever Search Engine, how and where do you get the people to come to your BANs stores?

    I hope you can enlighten me on this one as I have some of my BANs sites de-indexed recently and my income has taken a big blow without Google looking at the sites.

    Thanks in advance. Looking forward to some useful info.

    1. Arthur

      Costa-
      Google hate BANS! I have about 70 BANS-stores louded with unique and informative content, but they are being deindexed one by one. The visitors seemed to like them as well, but it doesn’t matter. Does Shoemoney have any deindexed BANS-stores?

      1. Costa

        That was what I was interested to know since almost everyone
        here seems to know how to get traffic without relying on
        Google.

  61. Breakline Marketing

    Google can and will do evil. I often consult our clients to write and build for the user. I’ve never thought to spin it and ask them how would their site fair if …..Google said we don’t need your results anymore. Excellent point

  62. Bulbboy

    I’m always amused when webmasters write: “What can I do to bring visitors back to my site?”

    Umm…make it good, always springs to mind.

  63. Shaun Sayers

    I actually did get blacklisted by google for a couple of weeks last year (I had a few white on white keywords hidden on my homepage and they spotted it after a few months). They basically send you an email telling you that you’ve been removed and then invite you to clean up your act and email them back when you have. Which I duly did. Surprisingly i got reinstated after about 7 days. It actually was quite a sobering experience and helped me add a bit of much needed balance to the way i market and publicise http://www.capablepeople.co.uk. Over reliance on google promotes both myopia and vulnerability. In short, it got me back on the “personal touch” approach – the type of thing we did before, well, google. And it worked

  64. Dolphinstreet

    Screw Google if you like, just don’t get banned by Google. That isn’t really worth it… Stick to the Google guidelines if you want your sites to do well – it’s not really that hard to avoid what Google warns against.

    1. coderbari

      Everyone loves Google in the beginning when their eyes are blind. But when they learn to see they find Google as the evil. Keep one thing in mind “Nothing is absolute FREE in this world”.

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  66. Arthur

    2 of my sites got deindexed by G about 3 weeks ago. Since then the traffic to those sites has increased 10 times and are now my best performing sites.
    Thanks Google!

  67. Blogging Tips

    yeah so have you gotten anymore of those $100,000 + checks lately .. that photo brings a tear to my eye every time I see it .. which is everyday since it’s right there in the sidebar

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  70. car hire bodrum

    So true – and we have the “Screw Google” attitude. Our site is blacklisted for over a year now in Google and traffic grows every day along with sales. Google is not the be-all to end-all.

  71. Craig Lund

    Total rip-offs, super complicated multi step headaches, I’ve tried them. I’ve made almost no money. Now (finally) I’m making money easily. It sounds like hype but this is different. I think you’ll be very happy with this program.

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