My Google Failure, and Thoughts on Elliott Jaques

Forrest Christian Admin 6 Comments

It seems that I’ve done something here to upset Google. Back when I started writing about Dr. Elliott Jaques, my blog was #3 when you searched for “elliott jaques”, right after his own Requisite Organization and Art Kleiner’s excellent introductory article on the man and his stratified systems theory.

Now it’s #76.

It’s clear that somehow I’ve done something wrong, for I have continued to write about the good Dr. Jaques and Requisite Organization / Stratified Systems Theory, showing how they apply to a variety of different contexts. Maybe it’s because this is a blog.

But even in blogs I’m #7.


It might be time to admit that while I really do think I explain Jaques’s work levels in clear english — I can even explain the basic ideas to the regularly dismissed “Level 1 worker” — I can probably do better by doing something else.

It’s a thought.

Comments 6

  1. So you’re using Google as a content value measurement device? I suppose there is some validity to that approach, but like creating a bonus incentive structure in a business– make sure what you’re measuring is actually tied to your success.

  2. Post

    Of course not. That would be stupid. However, as search has always been the major driver of new customers and readers, being beaten by spam pages is a good indicator that something technical has gone horribly wrong. It’s not just rankings: the site actually doesn’t appear for most keywords that I use in Google / Bing / Ask. (Or Yahoo!, but that’s becoming irrelevant with their deal with Microsoft.)

    There are, of course, several different business models that can be implemented that would not require appearing in search. However, that would obviously require a major change in business tactics including removing and rethinking this content’s packaging.

    Content value — that is, measuring the actual quality, clarity and communication strength of the writing — is quite different from business goals. Poor content value is often very successful. Content value is really determined by the consumer of it, making perception of value more important than value itself.

    It seems clear that the only free resource on the web with greater depth in Requisite Organization / Elliott Jaques / Stratified Systems Theory / Glacier Metal Company is the GO Society. There are arguably much better resources, with greater professionalism, but I’ve been doing this for quite awhile. Depth, however, is not content value, and in fact is often a detriment.

    My own goals for this site are not simple, and only include “make money” because it costs time and resources (including money) to put this together. Site search rankings were a keep way to reach my wider audience, as they are disparate and not at all local, making them rather difficult to reach through pinpoint PR activities. Since this no longer appears for many terms — e.g., “elliott jaques”, “requisite organization”, and “stratified systems theory”, much less things like “getting career unstuck” — it’s obvious that something has gone horribly wrong with the site making it invisible in many ways to the engines. It wasn’t even ranking for “forrest christian”.

    These are technical problems that give lie to a deeper set of questions that I’ve been asking. Elliott Jaques and Requisite Organization have been interesting but not profitable, and I believe that I finally understand why. The recent disappearance in search is simply an indicator that I’m not achieving my goals through this and that it may be time to take a different approach to achieving my objective.

  3. A couple of things that might be making a difference: It appears that your keywords meta is stuffed pretty far down on your home page, beneath some javascript, and that there don’t seem to be any global keywords or category on your RSS feed. That might make a difference. Also, I wonder to what extent your site modifications (particularly anything that would change an article URL) have cost you in search engine “goodwill.”

  4. Post

    Thanks, Michael. I forgot that you know these things pretty well. (Didn’t you roll your own blog software originally?)

    I hadn’t thought about meta tags, though. I’m pretty sure I need to abandon this theme and move to one that is more robust anyway.

    The really weird thing was that pages just didn’t show up. Lots of them. I should have figured this out a few months ago when I took down my database and went scouring the search engines and the Wayback Machine for old copies. Some of the pages didn’t exist in anyone’s cache. So I’ve obviously been doing something wrong for a long time.

    I’m also figuring that there’s something to do with the category and archive index pages. They just need to be rewritten.

    I’m also pretty sure that you do a lot better with non-timely info like mine if you just put together articles and try to get them placed at other sites or newsletters.

  5. I’ve been using Movable Type since I launched in 2003, but I’ve customized the templates. As I was writing that last reply, I realized that I hadn’t put my own meta tags back in since I upgraded to MT 4.

    Google has been very friendly to me, and I still have a pretty high ranking on most of my key blog topics, even though I don’t get linked as much these days as I once did. I’m inclined to think that the combination of the RSS/Atom feeds and my heavy use of keyword tags helps. Each tag turns into a category tag in the feeds. (At one point I had to customize this — was trying to get Technorati’s attention when it mattered — but I think it happens automagically now.) I also tend to be verbose and explicit in my entry titles and my internal links, making sure that the key word or phrase is in the title or link text, and as early in the text as possible. If I’m writing about, say, a local political figure, I’ll use the official’s first and last name. It’s bad headline style, and it limits the opportunities for punny headlines, but it helps readers find my content.

    For what it’s worth, all my content is static, except for embedded Javascript. No PHP. That may help the search engines navigate deeply into the site. And when I switched from MT’s entry-number-based URLs to title-based URLs, I created an .htaccess file to do permanent redirects from the old to the new, trying to hang onto the search engine cred those old entries had accrued.

  6. Hi, Forrest,
    Google rankings aside. I stumbled upon your site. Appears you have been working with Elliott’s research for some time. I get to Indiana occasionally. We should get together and chat.

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