Posted by: mrpeatie | April 28, 2009

The True Story of One Man’s Rise to the Top of Google

TMLogoI came out of over 2 years of retirement to give a speech in Toastmasters this morning. While I’ve been going to meetings all this time, I haven’t been giving speeches. After completing 16 speeches and competing in numerous contests, I was just burnt out and void of any stories or ideas for speeches. I’ve been blogging about table topics for a while now and it hit me that my blogging succeess story was so entertaining and compelling, it might go over well as a speech.

This is speech 1 from The Entertaining Speaker advanced manual.

Greetings fellow Toastmasters. Quick poll before we get rolling: Who hear has a Facebook, Myspace, or LinkedIn profile? Anyone on Twitter? Anyone have a blog?

You may not realize it, but there is a lot of information about you on the Internets. Between Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all the other social web sites you visit or have profiles on, someone can pretty quickly and easily find all sorts of information about you online. This information may or may not be accurate or up to date, but it probably plays a big part in what others know and think about you in today’s wired world.

It was just over a year ago today I decided to see what the Internet had to say about me. I typed my full name into Google and the first thing that came up, the first thing 99% of people who searched my name would click on was an amw.com profile for one Christopher Donahue. I didn’t know what AMW was so I curiously clicked on the link to find picture of a guy about my size, my age, and from my home state of NJ. I look towards the top of the page to find what AMW stands for…America’s Most Wanted

Yep, some dude with my name and eerily similar physical characteristics was one on of America’s most wanted criminals. And this dude was a real bastard. He would go around posing as a doctor and rape elderly woman. Despicable, despicable stuff.

I was appalled. I was disgusted, but above all I was pissed. This jackass was soiling the good name me and all the other noble Christopher Donahue’s of the world have worked so hard to build. I could not let this be the first thing people see on the Internet when they searched my name. Something had to be done.

 

I asked a work colleague who is highly skilled in the ways on the web what could be done. I was already on Facebook and MySpace, but that really isn’t enough. You have to actually create and maintain something. My friend tells me ‘dude, just start a blog’.  Do what now?

I knew what a blog was but always figured it was for Internet nerds with nothing better to do or media types who do it for a job. But it turns out if I was serious about toppling this guy from the top of Google, starting a blog was my best chance. I found my way to WordPress.com which is a popular and free blogging tool. Within one Saturday morning I was up and running with a template, header, theme and the most creative name ever…a blog by Christopher Donahue. In my defense, my full name had to be in the title of the blog for search engine optimization reasons. If Google didn’t know it was me doing this blog, I wouldn’t be helping my rank on Google’s search results.

So everything is set up and ready to roll. Most blogs wither and die because they have no focus or direction. My blog had a purpose and reason for existing but after that first posts that talked about why I was doing it and my Google goal….what do I write about? In order for a website or blog to catch Google’s eye, it needs to be constantly active and get page views so you need some compelling content. The easy solution for a lot of bloggers is to write about yourself. The harsh reality is that nobody really cares you. Nobody cares if you are depressed or have relationships woes. Nobody cares about your funny cat or cute dog. Nobody cares about your crazy family. I made a vow to not make things too personal. After that, I left it pretty wide open and I just decided to blog about whatever I found interesting or entertaining and see what happened. 

I found a blog a lot about local issues, sports, the weather, cool science stories, music, even Toastmasters. After every meeting I attend, I’ll post about the table topics questions that were given in hopes that other Toastmasters will use my blog as a resource for Table Topic ideas.

WordPress has a built in dashboard that lets you see how many people visit your site and read your posts.  It’s been a wonderfully entertaining experience to see how people find my blog and which posts get the most views. I recently surpassed 11,000 page views, which isn’t really a whole lot in the grand scheme of the Interweb, but that’s about 10,900 more than I ever thought I’d get.

Another entertaining aspect of blogging is the comments. I don’t get a ton of comments but the ones I do get are from people who took the time to search for my site, read my posts, and left a message. I was vindicated with my blogging mission early on when another Christopher Donahue found my blog by doing the same thing I did. He searched his name on Google and found my blog a few pages down in the results. He too was dismayed at the America’s Most Wanted guy and offered me the best of luck on my endeavor in redeeming the good nature of our name. 

 Over the weeks and months that followed my blog slowly but surely crept up on Google’s search results. Within a few months I found my way to the bottom of the first page and eventually settled in at #3 behind the jackass criminal and some lame actor who was in like one episode of some crappy Law and Order spin-off. I came this far and wasn’t about to let some criminal or celebrity wannabe stop me from achieving my goal.

I persevered and continued blogging and on the morning of September 1st, 2008 after 7 months and 80 blog posts, I did my normal weekly routine and typed my full name into Google and hit the search button and there it was, on the first page atop all other results ‘a blog by Christopher Donahue’. I had done it. I had overcome incredible odds and achieved my goal. It was quite a rush. This must have been what Sir Edmond Hillary felt when he reached the pinnacle of Mt. Everest…ok maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but it was pretty cool. 

Google’s search algorithms are a mysterious and fickle beast so in order to maintain my spot on top I have to keep blogging. And I want to. I love it. I turned this little internet experiment into a new hobby. I’ve met some cool new people. There is a local online community called LowCountry Bloggers. I’m even going to manage a marketing blog for Blackbaud.

And if this story and speech weren’t entertaining and fulfilling enough, you’ll be glad to know that they captured that America’s Most Wanted dude a few months ago. I like to think my blog had something to do with it. Fellow Toastmaster.

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Responses

  1. Way to come out of retirement with gusto! You did a fantastic job today. And this blog is definitely the best Christopher Donahue-related site Google has to offer. 🙂

  2. Well said bro! I never knew the story behind your blog before. I’m glad I know it now. Keep up the stellar work and have a great birthday (maligayang kaarawan).

  3. Hi there Fellow Toastmaster! I did a WordPress.com search. I typed in, ‘blogs about toastmasters’. After scrolling and reading the blurbs and hitting next a few times, you will be proud to know, that your speech title, ‘True Story… got me. This was the first blog I would take time out to read.I have only a private, practice, blog that I started October 1, 2010 called Ready Set Think. My goal includes blogging while sharpening thinking and communication skills, with some of my experiences in toastmasters.I’ll be reading yours , and I plan to publish mine by next month. Congratulations!


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