The Hypocrisy of Internet Marketers – Rant!

ranking on googleI’ve not had a rant for a long time, I started to think I was starting to mellow in my old age…wrong!

Jonathan Leger made a post on his JL Forums today about the latest google update in it he said that a lot of old sites that shouldn’t be on the first page of google were now appearing. and he gave an example:

Overall Affect: Old Sites With Less SEO Ranking Better

Lots of old sites are being resurrected into the search results, apparently because they have been less optimized. Google has been saying for a while that they would be going after over-optimized sites. That’s fine, but it’s sadly pushing a lot of really poor quality stuff into the search results, at least for the queries I’m following. Stuff that simply should not be in very highly competitive results is ranking well.

I mean, seriously, THIS page is ranking on page one for “bicycle wheels”?


Please go and look at that page and click on any of the articles that are linked to from it. I especially like the wheel building one.

If thats poor quality what on earth is good quality!

Now that you’ve read it please tell me why that site shouldn’t be on the front page of google?? In fact If I owned google I would put that page at #1

I accept that it’s a damn ugly site but not all of us are web designers, when that site started 17 years ago Wordpress wasn’t even a glint in it’s mother eye.

The wheel building article alone is 10,000 words of unique content and if you were building a wheel it has everything you could need in it. The site provides an amazing resource for all things related to cycling and building bikes.

The site hasn’t been built to make money it’s been built to help people and provide information the monetization was a secondary consideration. It’s exactly what google wants on the front page of google, the site has over 1,200 Facebook fans and you just know they weren’t bought for $5. You just also know he hasn’t used spun content and SEnuke to get thousands of backlinks.

So Mr Leger please explain why this site shouldn’t be on the first page of google?

I honestly can’t think why any marketer would begrudge a site like that a top 10 ranking. Unless of course it’s keeping their crappy MFA sites with 5 pages of perfectly spun content that don’t give value off the front page.

Far from decrying Mr Sheldon Brown I want to stand up an applaude him for the effort he’s put into the site, I want to hold him up as an example of the type of sites you should be creating (maybe use wordpress and a nice themes though!)

Let me make myself clear I have nothing personal against Jonathan Leger or nothing against MFA sites , hell I have enough of them myself but what I do object to is marketers who make their money from MFA sites and spun content saying in a public post that a “real” site shouldn’t be on the front page of Google.

We as Marketers do not have the divine right to be on the front page of google if google are making it more difficult for MFA sites to rank then we need to adapt not cry and whinge in forums that our sites have dropped 30 places and a horrible looking site has got to page one.

I’ve been saying it for a while now, you have a choice , play by Google’s rules or play a different game.

So should that site be in the top 10 for wheel building? Feel free to tell me I am an idiot and Jonathan is 100% correct!



  1. Mike says

    Agree with you Mark. I think that page has every right to show up on the front page. Sure the website is crappy from a design perspective but it is specialist and unique content related to the term.

    More specifically on the Google update as an IM I hate the constant changes and the ease at which some seem able to game the system. At my peak I made over $100,000 per annum and I’m now at a third of that and falling no matter what I do.

    It is now an expensive game to build a website and make a return and the uncertainty of success is substantial because when you start to rank on the first page it is likely to be very short lived as the googlebot subjects you to all manner of scrutiny that doesn’t apply lower down the serps.

    As someone said, maybe you, Google doesn’t care about us or anyone else. The algo changes are delivered to maximise revenue for Google. I don’t buy the user experience crap at all.


  2. says

    Hey Mark

    I just finished reading the thread on JL forum. I agree with a lot of what Jon is saying and hear what the commenters are saying too.

    I also agree with your comment here about the Bicycle site being an informative site even if it does look a bit naff. I unfortunately let my creative beast (not a beast more of a Damsel) out every time I build a site and end up spending far too much time considering the visitors ‘vista’ and should learn to curb my inner wannabe designer for the sake of good time management. That said, if I’m browsing myself and need answers to a question, I don’t jump off a site just because its poorly designed. I’m aware like you, that older sites may contain valuable content set in ancient designs (using the word loosley). Perhaps one day we will come to appreciate these disorganized messy sites as digital antiquities :)

    Meantime, I’m also very interested in the “Google Shuffle” as I’ve decided to label it. Strange things are afoot and I’m keeping an eye on some of my offline clients sites as I’ve a strategy for adding multiple long tail keywords that look like this ‘keyword phrase + area’ but I consider those to be ‘landing pages’ and excused from the informative quality criteria – this of course is providing the ‘services’ pages and other information pages offer quality and answer what the visitor is looking for.

    Anyway, I’ve got my eye on the threads and like you am checking the discussions to keep abreast of what matters and where to take care.

    I think as rants go, you werent too harsh :)
    Leah recently posted..Google’s Webmaster Warning Messages 2012My Profile


  3. Dave says

    I got Leger’s post this morning too. Totally agree with you Mark on the bicycle wheels. That site has all you could ever need to know.

    The ‘new shoes’ example he gave is, however , a completely different kettle of fish!

    I think overall, Google have got this one wrong.



    He does make some good points and i agree with 80% of his post but to single out the bike wheels site as an example of a poor site was just plain wrong .


  4. Zack says

    I think Jon just made that statement purely based on how it looks like… but aside from that Bicycle Wheel site, the blogspot page that is ranking no #1 in Google for Make Money Online really doesn’t deserve to be there! I don’t know.. this update has pretty much destroyed all my rankings… I’m preparing my resume as I’m typing this comment. Thanks Google


  5. Zack says

    Yea, I think Jon shouldn’t have used that as an example, I agree the bicycle wheel site is very informative and detailed… perhaps he just made that stately purely based on how it looks like… but aside from that Bicycle Wheel site, the blogspot page that is ranking no #1 in Google for Make Money Online really doesn’t deserve to be there! I don’t know.. this update has pretty much destroyed all my rankings… I’m preparing my resume as I’m typing this comment. Thanks Google


  6. says

    Hmm.. well of course, the site is made by a bike fanatic and is designed for bike fanatics – Google’s aim is to provide relevant information for relevant search queries and that page should definitely be up there.

    trouble is though that computers will never be perfect or apply logic in the way we do (yet!), not at a level where us mere average Joe’s can afford anyway, so the Google servers won’t always get it right and their algorithm’s can only do so much… it’s a funny old game..
    Shaun Baird recently posted..Progress Report For February 2012My Profile


  7. says

    What right do we have to say what should be on Google’s page 1 for any keyword? At least this site wasn’t full of animated gifs and flashing text that was so common back then.

    I think that these types of sites are the ones that Google should be promoting. I don’t think Google cares about design. I’d imagine that the site has lots of returning visitors and probably a ton of social media shares and a boat load of aged, natural backlinks.

    The NewShoes example is not really an issue either. It’s not a crappy site about shoes, it just happens to have a name that matches the keyword even though it’s unrelated to the actual keyword.

    The make money online example is bizarre though.
    Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson recently posted..Integrity Marketing – Trickery and DeceptionMy Profile


  8. Shawn says

    I had to take a look at JL forum after reading your “rant” Mark. I find it interesting what everyone is taking from this. I agree that a pure information site deserves page one. Lots of content. Been around forever so Google knows he’s not going anywhere. Very little advertising.
    But what I saw that really bothered me, and he didn’t harp on at all was his example of “make money online”. Number one site is;
    1. EMD subdomain on a Google property
    2. It’s a Google property in #1
    3. It’s a Google property with NO posts or any info at all
    4. It has a page rank of 3. So it’s weighted because it’s a Google property?
    5. Meta description indicates no posts(twice)
    I’ve seen this in a niche I am in, not money/IM related.
    Google should be embarrassed, and they would be if they cared about anything but the money. They do not care about the user experience.
    In time Google will go down as the biggest failure in business history.



    Like all google algo changes there are problems that soon get ironed out.. That make money online site has a lot of history between the owner and google.. Bet it won’t be there in 10 days time :)


    Mike Long

    I can help a bit on the Blogspot make money online site.

    Back in 2007 to early 2010, that site was used by a guy who went by the handle “Grizzly”. He professed to be a master of SEO and in order to prove it, he set a goal of using a blogger blog to get to #1 for the phrase “make money online”.

    Once he did so (predominantly with links) he abaondoned the site and took down all the content. That part is a shame as their was a tremendous amount of great content covering how to “game” Google with backlinks, and the site itself was (and clearly continues to be) a shining example of how easy it is to still do so.

    It’s just the fact that all the content is gone that makes it look so strange. Use and go back to 2008-2009 if you want at least a taste of what used to be there.

    Mike Long recently posted..How To Defeat Demons You Can’t SeeMy Profile



    Mike ,

    I remember that site from old, it had great information.. the links are still in place so that is why it’s ranking.

    BTW anyone reading this check out the post in mikes link..superb stuff


    Kevin Foulds

    I agree with you in most parts here. But Google down as the biggest failure in business history. Not quite. They have a long way to go yet and are no were near the end of their life.

    Kevin Foulds recently posted..Rowing To Lose WeightMy Profile


  9. says

    hey mark

    Far too many people”judge a book by its cover” i know his bike site doesnt have the best graphics but i looked through one of his articles and you can quite easily see that he has put a lot of effort into his content, good on him

    yeah it may look ugly but i know myself that its very difficult to get your head round all the tech stuff for creating fancy graphics and all that but the most important thing is that he has quality information on his site and he has

    I mean look at my blog for instance lol, the theme is terrible and ugly but it doesnt mean that theres no decent content on it, there lots of juicy stuff. I will get round to changing it at some point though

    As you say mark you either play by there rules or you get out its that simple and if you end up putting all of your income and traffic in google anyway then thats already an accident waiting to happen

    paul nicholls blog recently posted..1 Super Traffic Method for Putting Your List Building on SteroidsMy Profile


  10. says

    Great post Mark.

    That bicycle wheel article was no joke. I think my ADD allowed me to read about 2 sentences but just scanning through it’s obviously great content and if I ever in my life need to construct a bicycle wheel I’ll know exactly where to go.

    Go to google, type in “how to make a bicycle wheel”and sheldon is #1


    That is the point isn’t it?

    (youtube #2 and #3) Video is really strong these days

    Thanks for the great info Mark as usual.

    Stefan recently posted..More Traffic For Your Blog In 2012My Profile


  11. says

    I went to the site & it’s not beautiful… But it does have lots of good content. It also ranks in the top 1% of all sites on the net. Obviously people must like to go to his site. So, he must be doing something right.
    The articles are very readable & make sense. This is more than can be said for much, if not most, of the “spun” sites.
    So, I agree with you, Mark. The site has earned it’s google ranking…
    If I just wanted pretty pictures, I’d step out into my back yard & gaze out at the Tantramar Marsh & all it’s myriad species of flora & fauna.

    Thanks Mark,


  12. says

    “adapt not cry and whinge”
    Well that is never going to catch on is it?

    We are going back towards the do what you love age rather than the buy an emd in a tiny niche and hope to make a few bucks way of working online.

    This year is going to be “interesting” that is for sure..
    paul forcey recently posted..Cashmob For LinksMy Profile


  13. says

    At “my” Google, Sheldon brown’s page is already on number 4 :-)

    Jennifer-PotPieGirl pointed out already the 23th (here on your blog on your previous post) that something was “wrong’ with the listing of makemoneyforbeginners, so that’s old news :-)

    Better would have been listing the exact URL’s, because in my bicycle wheels Google page, all page are about bicycle wheels and none of them is from Amazon. Difficult to compare.

    On top of that: who is an expert on bicycle wheels to have a motivated judgement about who should be one page 1?

    If Jonathan is an expert of bicycle wheels, he should give a few alternative pages that in his mind should be ranking number 1,2,3, so we know what is “good” in Jonathan’s perspective and as such could debate on your rant Mark :-) I would surely jump on wikipedia’s definition: “A bicycle wheel is a wheel… designed for bicycle.” Luckily they did elaborate on that.

    As far as I remember, many, many years ago, SEO for Dummies mentioned that people who make a huge effort in putting an exhaustive list together of stuff, could easily manage to rank high. For me a much better reason to rank high than a site “optimized by an expert in SEO” but not optimized contentwise by an expert in the field of that specific content.

    1995/7 and looking at Sheldon’s avatar does remind me on the good old days where people put personal, informative and fun content online :-)


  14. says

    Hey Mark,

    I just came from Jon’s forum and I read his post… I was swaying towards “his” point of view on that bicycle wheel site until I read your post! I guess in this day and age of the “super beautiful” looks do matter for some… I’m just sorry to say that it took me reading of your words to realize this.

    Thanks for opening my eyes!



    Hi Cindy, nice to hear from you again how are you?

    I think Jon is right in most of his post i just think he is slightly deluded to think that that site doesn’t warrant being on the first page.

    He says that it shouldn’t be there because people who type in Bicycle Wheels are looking to buy … I disagree the term in itself is to generic to make that assumption. If it was Best Bicycle wheels or bicycle wheel reviews i might agree with him a bit more.


  15. says

    Just to throw in a thought why Jon said this about that site.

    And no doubt it’s a great site about ‘bicycle wheels’and deserves good exposure for what the site is about.

    Here is my thought though…..When someone types that term in what is in their mind?

    Is it “I want to find out about” them or “I want to buy them”?

    I suspect Jon is thinking the latter. It could be a both IMHO. :)

    That term is a very generic term and most people will have put more than just bicycle wheels to get exactly what they want.




    Thats my point exactly.. “bicycle wheels” is too broad a term to just assume that people what to buy bicycle wheels


  16. says


    Well pointed out. As you know Jon Leger has a massive fan base and I am sure most will just add a comment agreeing with what he has said. Nice of someone to disagree.

    Yes Google get things wrong, but as we can see it is causing great concern to everyone, especially those who have built blogs reliant on spun content, which is Jon Legers main software, and are now reliant on google for an income.

    It has always been said that Google would catch up with content spinning and blog farms. Now that they have done this, what happens next.

    You either do what they ask or get hit, and sometimes you get hit anyway. If that is the case you just have to hope that you bounce back later, or change your sites to be fully white hat, look at the losses as a positive and start again. At least you still have a adsense account.

    Kevin Foulds recently posted..Unhealthy Fruit JuiceMy Profile


  17. says

    Hi Mark – How refreshing to see an “ugly” site at page one!

    I’ve checked out the site and was intrigued to read the advice regarding tyre rotation. This is something I have often wondered about.

    And, guess what, I guessed correctly about the tome of the content when I read that the author of the article was “Sheldon “Put The Good One In Front” Brown”.

    In fact, I don’t think the site is ugly at all, and in my opinion the only thing that is lacking is the easy navigation that i have gotten used to using on modern sites.

    There seems to have been a lot of work put into the site by Sheldon and all I can say is Well Done, to him.

    And to Jonathan Leger, I say, adapt or die!
    Dave E Wilkes recently posted..Why Do I Have A Headache And Why Shouldn’t I Go To The Doctor?My Profile


  18. says

    I have very mixed feelings about this, Mark.

    My concern may be construed as somewhat off-topic, but I’m not convinced Google (or anyone) should ever talk about “user experience” in a general sense if the appearance and navigational features of a site don’t really count.

    Not sure that is the conclusion to draw, but it makes one wonder.

    Admittedly, the quality of the content is paramount, but for me (and I’m sure for many), the appearance of the site is also a significant part of the user experience and part of what makes a site worthwhile.

    Just as a metaphor, how about if you go out on a date with someone who doesn’t care about their appearance (looks slovenly, doesn’t dress well, looks unclean, etc.). You can’t very well say that they don’t have much value. They may have all sorts of skills, talents and other great things going for them, but if you would rather be with someone who takes a little better care of their appearance, then that’s a significant part of your “user experience” so to speak.

    In other words, it isn’t just about the content. It’s also about the presentation. In fact, in my humble opinion, it would be entirely true to say that the presentation is an integral part of the content.
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