Google Kick

Google Kicked Me So Hard I Cried A Little Bit

When I was 7 years old I got kicked in the balls by a girl.  I had it coming.  Of course I had it coming.  An 8 year old girl doesn’t try to make a 50-yard field goal with your privates because she’s upset with the economy or your political views.  Nope.  It’s usually something very stupid and very basic.I called her a name.  A mean name. Her parents gave her the name Nancy Wicks.  One day when all the kids in my town were hanging around outside the only store I changed it to Nancy Picks.  Why? Because I was a small town dumb ass.  Actually it was more like a village than a town.  There was one store, one gas station, and only 9 kids to play with other than my two little brothers.You know how mean kids can be.  I quickly escalated the name calling when I saw I was getting a reaction.

Nancy Picks became Nancy Picks-Her-Bum.  It’s horrible how quickly you can make a girl turn beet red if you call her a hurtful name 20 times in a row in fast repetition.As I was taunting her with my equally stupid buddies, she hit her breaking point.  The red in her face turned a shade of dark purple.  In one swift move reminiscent of the love child between Bruce Lee and Francis the Talking Mule, she let it rip.  Her powerful up kick caught me 100% full on between the legs.  I’m talking maximum velocity full contact no holds barred toes pointed up direct blow captain the starboard engines are destroyed!

My body rose a full 9 inches into the air, and compressed itself forward from the impact.  As her leg swung down back to earth, my corpse froze in mid air like a Matrix movie.  I remember hearing a tiny gasp of air leak out of my flaccid lungs.  The crowd of friends let out a simultaneous groan on my behalf.   In slow motion I collapsed to the dusty ground and rolled over onto one side.   If my friends had any chalk they could have traced my outline.  I couldn’t move.

Have you ever seen a baby about to cry, but they freeze silently as they suck enough air in to let loose with a deafening scream?  That was me.  I was simply unable to utter the slightest sound.  Every molecule of life-giving air had exited my body from the humbling blow.  My diaphragm spasmed trying desperately to suck oxygen back into my lungs.  Unfortunately at the same time my stomach, filled with grape soda and Old Dutch potato chips, had plans of its own.

I’ll spare you the gory details.  Suffice it to say I lay on the sidewalk in a pool of my own making for the better part of 20 minutes.   Nancy’s best friend made me say I’m sorry, which came out in a version of Klingon grunts from my inability to speak.  After a few minutes of seeing my pathetic state lying in my vomit weeping, Nancy said she was sorry.  Kids are incredibly resilient when it comes to dealing with drama.  My friends left me after about ten minutes. “Nothing to see here folks just some hammer head 7 year old gagging.  Move along!”

The story ends with me slowing regaining consciousness, covered in used grape soda laying on the sidewalk in a village in the rural prairies, unable to walk properly for a week.  The white part of my left eyeball was red for nearly a month.  That’s right.  She kicked me so hard my eyeball started to bleed.

I learned my lesson the hard way.   Be nice.

Google taught me the same lesson the exact same way

Google kicked me so hard in 2006 I thought I’d never do internet marketing again.  I almost cried a little bit from the financial beat down.

It was a strange time to be making money online.  The web had matured to a point where people were using the phrase “Google” as a verb.  Need to find information on white water rafting, the Atkins diet, Cuban cigars, baby ring slings, or peanut allergies?  Just Google It.  Poor Nike’s Just Do It was a distant memory when Google took off.

As a consequence, if you had a website directly related to keywords that people were searching for, and if it had a page 1 ranking, there was an excellent chance that you would receive a lot of visitors.  And if the page on your website had a blue link on it near the top that had the keyword phrase that someone was searching for, and they clicked it, you would receive some money from Google.  It was called Google Adsense.  Unfortunately many childish marketers thought it was a lottery ticket.  Myself included.

Back in 2004 we were making solid websites with good quality content that sold actual products with affiliate programs.  It was slow and cumbersome, but it worked and didn’t involve taking shortcuts.  But fast and lazy is far more interesting and sexy than slow and deliberate.  I started seeing what I called the “Google Cold War” starting in early 2005.  It was like the arms race between the USA and soviet Russia.  Bigger tools, more automation, crazier back link schemes began in ernest.  If it involved tricking Google, I bought it.

By 2006 I could type a keyword phrase like “Titanium Golf Driver” into a script at 8 pm at night.  It would think for 3-4 minutes as I drank some green tea.  It would spit out a file of 10,000 keyword phrases related to golf.  I would then open a different program, import the file, and in 5 more minutes it would spit out a 10,000 page website filled with gibberish about golf that had been scraped from thousands of other sites about gibberish about golf.  Then I’d upload the massive website in about 20 minutes with a different program.  Then I’d load the 10,000 words into a different robot, and it would create 100-200 fake blogs on Blogger with links deep into my site.  Then it would take the RSS feeds of the 200 fake blogs and send hundreds of pings across the web to try to entice the search robots to spider my golf site.

Here’s the crazy part.  I’d wake up the next day and my 10,000 page golf site filled with gibberish was already in the search engines and making me a few dollars.  My noon each day I’d check one of my many Adsense accounts, see that I had banked $300 for the morning and go golfing.

Remember the story about learning to BE NICE?

Well, me and thousands of other idiotic black hat marketers were kicked hard by Google that summer.   I remember an ebook that was going around about a guy who bought his wife a Cadillac one month with his Adsense check and 90 days later couldn’t afford to put gas in it.    Some fools chose to play harder by building out their own blog farms with thousands of junk sites.  Others built more evil robots to build fake Blogger blogs faster.  Others tried to cloak their spam, flavor their spam, or merge their spam with real content.  None of it mattered.  Google was fed up.

The five figure checks were gone by the time it snowed that year.  Luckily I had been smart and had not expanded my lifestyle during those 18 crazy months.   We cancelled the dedicated servers, put the extra computers for sale, and  learned a hard lesson.  Others were not so fortunate.  They lost homes, cars, laid of employees and closed physical offices.  Imagine a business model based on junk, selling junk and selling tools that make junk to others.  I still shake my head sometimes.

The strange thing about the aftermath of that time was that some of the little dinky affiliate sites I built by hand and ignored since 2004 are still around.  They still get legitimate traffic, sell legitimate products from real companies and continue to work for me when I am asleep.  After 7 years of neglecting them, I came to some huge realizations.

1.  Google has more smart people working for them than I do.  They are focused on improving their business and giving the best experience possible for a person using their search engine.  If I want to play in their world I had better do the same.

2.  Slow and steady ultimately beats fast and stupid.  I bought every tool, script, ebook, webinar and course related to making quick money online between 2005-2006.  I don’t use a single one of them today.  The old ebooks about building quality websites that people read, bookmark and return to are still valid from 2000-2002.  Big ah-ha moment.

3.  It’s a lot easier and smarter to grow a small handful of quality websites than it is to crank 2-3 junkie sites per week (or day) using duplicate scraped rubbish.  Google is getting smarter by the season.  If you want to win long term you have to think long term.

4.  It’s physically and financially exhausting to try to stay ahead of Google in an arms race.  They can take down junk sites faster than we can put them up.  I lost nearly 3 years of time that I could have spent building quality in the hunt for fast money.

5. People are buying more stuff online than ever before.  There is still life-changing amounts of money to be made in Adsense and in affiliate marketing provided you are patient and don’t try to take shortcuts.

When Nancy Wicks kicked me in my cpanel I learned to play nice.  When Google kicked me and de-listed 570 of my sites I learned the same lesson.  I’m not going to write some cheesy ebook about Confessions of A Reformed Small Time Black Hat Marketer.  Believe me, I have nothing to teach or sell.   If you are ever tempted to take short cuts in your internet marketing endeavors, use the Mom test.  Show your website to your Mom.  If she isn’t thrilled with it then do the smart thing and make it better.  If she scolds you for making junk then listen and learn.

Good luck in your business!

Dave B. Ledoux is an early Internet pioneer. He has been building websites and making money online since 1994. He enjoys travelling with his wife, golf, paintball and World of Warcraft. Now semi-retired he spends his days helping his friends with their websites. He writes a witty and occasionally sardonic blog at David Ledoux Dot Com blog.


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{ 31 comments… add one }
  • Wade October 18, 2012, 11:10 am

    Ouch! I feel your pain! I too have been suffering from various kicks by Google too. When my site finally got noticed, I was kicked out of Adsense because of too many visitors & clicks. Yesterday, I got kicked by Google plus because of who knows? I still have not tried to figure this one out.

    I react a little differently to these scenarios than you. I call it the “Modified Stationary Panic”. It’s basically where I suck in air so hard that pictures start coming off the walls and dogs bark. Instead of doing the normal panic, where one bounces off the walls screaming, I resort to lying on the floor, doing my impersonation of a limp dishrag.

    Either way, Google is a little too picky and I’m starting to get fed up with it!

  • Usha Sliva December 26, 2011, 6:15 pm

    Laughed so hard I almost cried myself 😉 Great story and of course, we get the moral behind it…thanks for sharing..

  • Isabella October 31, 2011, 9:57 am

    This has to be one of the most entertaining article’s I’ve read about being Google slapped. And the first part was particularly vivid. I’m a girl, but I felt for you… Have you considered penning a novel?

  • Andy October 3, 2011, 5:20 am

    Wonderful story Dave.

    I too thought you were going to be talking about Panda.

    This is a great read for anyone who is still looking for new shiny Internet Marketing toys to buy. Stick to what works (and what has worked for the last 10 years) – hard work and giving the visitors what they want. If the visitors like your site, so will Google.

  • Robert Somerville October 2, 2011, 6:43 pm

    Funny thing is that the answer to long term success online is very well known and Google even tells you – publish great content. Despite knowing that, most people still try to find strategies that deliver a short term gain but with long term pain.

    It takes years to figure out this simple truth…and some people never get it.

  • Pritam September 26, 2011, 9:21 pm

    Trying to cheat Google is not the right strategy. Give what the search engine wants. High-quality websites with useful content. You should add a lot of videos and images to your website as well. If you play it right, there is no risk of getting kicked by Google. Instead of using scrapers, hire content writers from Fiverr or other places.

  • Get Out of Debt Guy September 2, 2011, 7:09 am

    I think what is so uplifting about your post is that you didn’t waste a perfectly good mistake and learned from it. I get the impression that all the others that didn’t just took the same experience and repeated down a smaller and tighter spiral.

    Sometimes the best solution is just good hard work and being online is no different.

  • Damon September 2, 2011, 5:54 am

    Awesome tie in Dave.
    When I saw the title of your article I thought it was going to be about Panda. I wish more of those people out there sinning and spamming would read this and stop trashing the internet with their fake garbage. Glad you saw the light and have come back over to the good side, and I am especially glad that Google is continuing to police their results and get rid of all the low quality stuff.

  • Anushka Sharma August 25, 2011, 8:12 am

    good post with interesting story telling of Google…

  • Melinda August 20, 2011, 12:29 pm

    Great story!! I’ve always been a believer in quality and going by the book so the Panda update actually helped me. I find myself constantly reeling in my clients who are tempted to venture down that questionable road. Patience really is a virtue. 🙂

  • Rob Benwell August 10, 2011, 3:36 am

    that is the way you take my attention 🙂 Interesting way of looking at Google as the good guy cleaning up … but i like you childhood story..

  • Brian August 8, 2011, 11:58 pm

    Wow what an eye opening experience! This just goes to show that you should never put all of your eggs in one basket. Thanks for this enlightening post, its certainly a reminder for a newbie like myself to come up with a solid business plan from the start.

  • greg ascentive August 8, 2011, 7:40 am

    lol…i thought this was going to be another horror story resulting from Panda but it looks like you learned your lessons years before Panda came to town. there are still plenty of black tactics being employed by folks out there but Google will inevitably “fix” any loopholes with their continuing updated algorithms.

  • John Winson August 8, 2011, 7:05 am

    Ha ha, really loved first part of your story. Really fascinating. I would also start crying if Google kicked me out. Follow the rule, change in the way Google wants you to change, that’s my motto.

  • Rachel August 7, 2011, 4:42 pm

    That was worth the read for the laughs alone.

    I’m doing some content writing for someone, and trying to convince him of the same thing. With my own blog I’ve seen clearly: I don’t need fancy blog farms, triple dip backlinking, or any of that other stuff to link: just good content, links on real sites, etc.

  • Cathy B August 7, 2011, 12:09 pm

    Me personally there is so much emphasis on Google and rankings that it makes it hard for us smaller bloggers who just want to be heard. Great story and it caught my attention however I am no longer worried about big business or making money, just the feeling of gratitude and people can comment on the great writing going on.

  • Cristina August 6, 2011, 9:05 pm

    I have a great time reading your story. (Not to mention the funny picture of the Kung fu Panda). Its really funny how life can teach us a valuable lesson, how our stupidity and wanting to get rich fast can turn to be a disaster. Reading your story thought me a lot of lesson specially when playing with Google. Thanks for sharing these with us. I take note of all the important things you mention here.

  • Mark August 5, 2011, 3:06 pm

    That story was so funny. That was the first time I laughed all day…:)

    Excellent write-up Dave. It is always amazing how laziness is actually more work in many cases than just buckling down and getting to work.

    You gave us all some great points to think about. Thanks for sharing your experiences, embarrassing as they may be.


  • Fredrik Hjort August 5, 2011, 1:14 pm

    Cool story! Also a good reminder for me to not resort to black hat tactic even though i have to admit it’s tempting sometimes. Thanks for sharing.

  • Edgar August 5, 2011, 12:55 pm

    If you want to stay safe and earn a steady income you need to play by the rules. Many people think of Google as as an evil guy who tries to steal their efforts. The fact is that without Google, it would take you hours to search for something you usually find in seconds now. The reason for this is that Google has become very smart to overcome all the nasty manipulations many spammers try to execute. By the way Dave you write like Dan Brown 🙂

  • Rahul August 5, 2011, 11:56 am

    your childhood story was more interesting than google one .lolz.

  • DiTesco August 5, 2011, 9:15 am

    Interesting story and I’m with Justin as far as replacing the W with D, instead of the P.. maybe an additional R would rightfully deserve you being kicked in the middle on the “holy grail”, lol.

    Kidding aside, I think that your message comes across perfectly well.. nothing better than being “nice” in all sense of it.

  • Ray August 5, 2011, 3:32 am

    Well this was quite an entertaining story and lesson. There are still a lot of people out there trying to game the system. Thinking they can beat Google. There might be a few that get a way with something for a while, but Google is smart and getting smarter. They may not catch you today, but when they do they are going to kick you where it hurts.

  • Kevin Tea August 4, 2011, 11:58 pm

    Well that’s one way to get my attention :-)Interesting way of looking at Google as the good guy cleaning up the web because this past week I am beginning to get a bit nervous about the Big G. It seems to be introducing piecemeal moves to dominate the web, what with rel-auth, the new rewrite pages for faster loading service that will be paid for and an almost insistence that you will have to be on Google+ to help page ranking. Paranoid? Me?

  • Thomas Frank August 4, 2011, 11:18 pm

    I love the way you started out this post – it was an entertaining story and a great metaphor for the lesson you shared.

    Since I’m a student and didn’t start blogging until 2010, I really wasn’t aware of how much junk used to be out there. It’s really surprising to learn that you could do things like creating junk blogs and actually make money off of them – the school I come from has always been, “Create epic content and get links from big, relevant sites”. I guess it wasn’t always like that!

  • Dave August 4, 2011, 7:34 pm

    Mitz, the speed of black hat in the “old days” was intoxicating. Today after the Panda update there is hardly a battle left worth fighting when it comes to tricking Google. Thanks for the kudos Justin.

    Nowadays I enjoy writing for humans, building links for humans, and cashing my checks. If I won’t show a site proudly to my Grandma, I won’t build it. period.

  • Matt August 4, 2011, 7:11 pm

    Great story and a valuable lessen to be learned. I would’t know how to build websites, but we should all steer clear of shortcuts. Also- never taken a nutshot as such, but did suffer an unfortunate swingball incident once. I was playing alone and caught it full frontal. I was blind for a few seconds. I was about 12. Still knocks me sick thinking about it.

  • Mitz Pantic August 4, 2011, 5:57 pm

    OMG I absolutely love your story!!!!! WOW…

    I was building websites then but was too busy concentrating on my own thing to notice all this…I did not buy internet marketing products or read peoples blogs…I am totally lucky I did build the websites slow and steady.

    It must have been like breaking an addiction..Having all that money coming in and then its all gone in one fowl swoop…

    I am not sure what I would do…But you have taught me one good lesson…Hold on to the money when you get it..

  • John Garrett August 4, 2011, 5:37 pm

    Ouch, man. Ouch. I think I remember seeing some of those ebooks floating around, each one making more claims than the last. Was it “Rich Jerk” or something? I can’t remember exactly now.

    Ahh, either way at least you learned your lesson without destroying your entire life. Thanks for a great article.

  • TrafficColeman August 4, 2011, 5:22 pm

    Next time were a cup.this will protect some of your pride and joys..if you know what I mean. Sometimes in life you just have to slow down and think..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Justin Germino August 4, 2011, 3:31 pm

    Nice story and tie in to an Internet experience, the name could have been a lot more cruel must have been younger kids, nowadays would have probably replaced the W with a D. In the meantime shortcuts get nowhere and Google is king, though they really are failing with handling the blocking/banning of Google+ profiles and there is a lot of upset in their own backyard because of it.

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