free html hit counter WTF??!!! - John Battelle's Search Blog


By - April 17, 2008

I am the first John on Google. WTF? Google, please don’t change this. I feel – so giddy!

(hmmm, really, WTF?!)

The First John

I mean, I am ahead of Lennon. The Gospel. Er…McCain. WTF? What I really love about this is that I found out from my kids drama teacher via my wife. No wait, my wife knew, but I didn’t. Then Neil at FM told me. In an email. Because his kid saw it. I mean really. WTF?


Since folks are seeing it all over, it’s not just Google doing personal narcissism search (yeah, we can’t wait till we’re all first in our own searches….see image above). Huh.

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36 thoughts on “WTF??!!!

  1. Erik says:

    Congrats! Pretty crazy. No disrespect to your excellent blog but this is another obvious sign that Google gives a ridiculous amount of weight to blogs vs. other types of content in search results. Will they change this in order to produce better results or will they force sites to change the way they produce content in order to fit into Google’s web view? Since so far they’ve consistently done the latter I think we can count on that.

    Google has become the world’s editor and if you don’t do things exactly as they want (which makes their life a lot easier), you don’t get published! Oh, and they won’t tell you how they want it, you have to figure it out.

  2. Larry says:

    You and Matt from WordPress are in a pretty exclusive club. Larry Page is beaten out by Larry the Cable Guy for the top Larry.

  3. Eric Goldman says:

    It wouldn’t be that surprising if you used personalized search and repeatedly search your blog through Google, which would cause Google to boost your personalized ranking. When I searched, the Gospel is still ahead of you. Don’t feel too bad, you’re still #2 in my display–still pretty good. Eric.

  4. aaron schiff says:

    Strange, you show up 5th when I do the same search:

  5. Ironically, searching for Battelle, which is less common, there are several results before yours

  6. Kevin says:

    Are you feeling lucky ?

  7. nmw says:

    Google.DE currently ranks the wikipedia article about John Lennon as #1. It also suggests (“did you mean”: john versicherungsmakler and john f. kennedy).

    Being in the top 10 out of about 868 million (Google.DE) or 848 million (Google.COM) is an honor, I guess.

    Perhaps people misspell you last name more than they misspell your first name (and therefore Google’s algorithm might think you are more reliably referred to as “John” than as “Battelle”).

    BTW: As Google goes further down the path of personalization of search results, I feel they will further alienate those users who would prefer “unbiased” results.

  8. Richard Barber says:

    Congrats John, i am afraid you are a pitiful second over here in the UK to a department store, End of Term Report = Must try harder!

  9. Claudio I. says:

    That is pretty damn cool. Congratulations.

  10. Bridge says:

    Congratulations man! That rocks!! I’ve got you coming through my reader every day 🙂

  11. Hit Search says:

    Well done John; you only have Thomas to beat and thats the clean sweep. Keep up the good work.

  12. MikeM says:

    You must be getting a $hitload of hits from that. Good for you, but terrible for Google.
    I suggestto Google maybe the origin of the name John or maybe John the Baptist should occupy that spot, wow, how sad.

  13. mrg says:

    um, don’t you own a publishing network? Really, are you surprised as the one who knows google inside & out?

    i’m more impressed that you are the top torso site (the bosom?), and thus me as a reader am one of the most affluent americans! Egads…not for long.

  14. Bill Brazell says:

    Despite Valleywag’s best efforts, you’re much better known for your writing than for your mug. Using the same four-letter search term on Google Image this morning, one doesn’t find you until the 42nd page — well behind two other FM authors (Johns Jantsch and Kricfalusi), and the adult-film legend John Holmes.

  15. Bertil Hatt says:

    What surprises me is that you said nothing about having a personal search — and it is fresh in your mind, after posting about it yesterday. Your screen capture doesn’t shows your e-mail on the left: you could have erased if for privacy, but. . . Does this mean Google uses your IP to improve your search result? I don’t think they’ve tried to hide it, but this could help sort the maze that has become the debate on whether your IP is an identifiable information.

  16. Jason Weisberger says:

    When searching the “the John” I always know where to look.

  17. John Wooton says:

    Ha! From one John to another…. great job getting there!

    And yes, let’s hope Google keeps it that way. You’ve got some great content!

  18. Daniel Serra says:

    Congratulations. I´m modestly trying to be the first Daniel Serra, and it´s getting more complicated that I thought!!
    My blog is just about that process (in spanish).

  19. saran says:

    from history…If any citizen opposes rules/regulations of kingdom, the (bad) king immediately arrest him/her and hanged with thief’s. it happened many many times.
    in this modern world, from east end to west end, all political framework says that talk is a fundamental right. but not for Google! If you criticize Google, their search algorithm sends your site to few hundred miles away, and crawls all the thief images, criminal records (who are in your name) and displayed in SERP with your name (targeted anti-viral). Does Google follow the same classic model?
    The bottom line is that Google management kids need more maturity.

  20. JG says:

    A more interesting experiment would be to do the search for “John” not only on Google, but also on Yahoo, MS, Ask, etc. And then compare the results.

    It is a very interesting experiment, because I don’t know if you could say that there really is a “right” answer. The query is a bit too ambiguous.

    However, by doing the search across multiple different engines, you begin to see the bias of each engine. Google obviously favors links. Live Search seems to favor URL text.

    Also by doing the search across multiple different engines, you also begin to see the similarities across all engines. Some reference to biblical/John is consistently highly ranked across all engines. It is not always ranked 1st. But it is the most consistent.

    In a way, that makes me wish that it were not against Google’s closed-source policies for me to metasearch Google. A good metasearch engine would let me automatically search multiple engines and fuse the results, removing any bias from any one particular engine. Though the query itself is ambiguous (“which” John), one could make the argument that the biblical John is the one most associated with a single word/name, e.g. the same way “prince” by itself probably refers to the musician, not to Prince Charles.

    The interesting thing, too, is you see how much help the various search engines give you, for your ambiguous query. Yahoo gives you 4-5 suggestions, as does Google (and at the top of the page, too.. in flat contradiction to Udi Manber’s Popular Mechanics interview yesterday in which he stated that the terms only appear at the bottom of the page. Wtf?). But Ask gives you a dozen different ideas. John Deere, John F. Kennedy, John Adams, John Locke, John Steinbeck, John Wayne, etc.

    So which search engine is the best? The one that gets the ego? The one that gets the biblical reference? The one that offers the most help for ambiguous queries?

    I don’t know the answer. But a skilled searcher considers all the options. Too much reliance on only a single engine, only a single source of information, can be troublesome.

  21. While nice for you, this is actually an example of bad search engine performance.

    If anybody wanted to find you, they would search for “Batelle” and not “John.”

    “John” on its own is an unlikely query, but what could the user’s intention possibly be:

    (a) Find out more about this name, its history, pervalence, and whether it’s a good idea to name your new baby John.

    (b) Find the John from the Bible. (Or possibly other Johns who are only known by their first name. I don’t think there’s a rock star like that, but what do I know 🙂

    In other words, you have shown us an example where PageRank fails to prioritize the links according to likely user needs. Of course, we all know that search is not a solved problem and that popularily ranking is getting less useful.

  22. george z says:

    You’re the number one JOHN in the world! congrats!

    I guess now is the time to change your legal name from John Batelle to simply JOHN.

  23. Congrats! I for one am happy to have a name common enough to be almost ungoogleable…

  24. Prem says:

    Thats the least Google can do to their No.1 fan boy! 🙂

  25. Omar Khan says:

    I think in part it shows an over-reliance on the tag and word position within it. It also shows how far search still has to go. But enjoy the 15 seconds of search fame!

  26. jonas says:

    amazing! Way cool stuff, makes sense — google owes you:)

    Unfortunately for me, the kids love the Jonas Brothers

  27. Brian says:

    Congratulations mate, keep up the good work, and just as you think you got it cracked good will change the rules and your drop down again.

    -Britec- Britec IT Solutions
    Computer Repair Herts

  28. Alex Flint says:

    on you’re #7. John the Ripper password cracker is #1 followed by Gospel, Lennon (twice), Edwards (for President), and Legend.
    Still, #7 out of 995,000,000…WTF

  29. oyun says:

    You’re the number one JOHN in the world! congrats

  30. Paul C says:

    On, you’re only number 2 I’m afraid – John Lewis dept stores is #1.

  31. Anand says:

    Congrats!! But you are down to number 3 already!! :O

  32. Leona says:

    How cool! I don’t show up until the fifth page of Leonas.

  33. seo pixy says:

    You should be very happy for this:) Some people try to accomplish that for months and can’t do it after all;)

  34. ashleywilson says:

    Not anymore.

    Now it’s our dear friend, John McCain