John Chow Vs Search Engine Journal – FIGHT!

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This experiment will show you the differences in traffic behavior from 2 popular internet marketing blogs – Search Engine Journal and John Chow.

When I wrote my award winning Ninja’s Guide To Google Alerts guest post I originally sent it to John Chow to publish on his site. I have been following John’s blog since 2007 so I was keen to try and get my article on his blog!

When I didn’t hear back from John (/sadface), I sent it over to who published it within 48 hours.

Fast forward 6 weeks and I was surprised to see that John had published it on his blog as well – even though he never replied to my initial email or to let me know the post was going live.

It’s On Now!

As both John Chow and Search Engine Journal published the exact same post this has given me the unique opportunity to compare the traffic performance of both sites as well as analyse the differences in audience behavior.

I’m going to be looking at a range of metrics including social shares on each site, number of visits and precisely which post brought more value to my blog as a whole.

John Chow Vs Search Engine Journal

Here is a rough overview of each of the sites

  • Audience is primarily make money online focused
  • 18-24 year old males
  • Mostly browse from home
  • Have some level of college education
  • Alexa rank 8,009

  • Audience is primarily SEO focused
  • 18-34 year old males
  • Mostly browse from work
  • Have a graduate education
  • Alexa rank 3,130

Although both of them are in the top 10,000 sites in the world – the audiences are very different.

One is mostly browsed by young males from home looking to make money online in their spare time.

While the other is a wider age range of males browsing primarily from work and are likely to be full time internet marketing professionals.

It is also worth noting that gets significantly more traffic than

alexa traffic graph

Notice how traffic drops like a stone every weekend? This is inline with the audience definition above.

Which site do you think will bring the most traffic & value to my blog?

Let’s Get It On!

So with all of that in mind, let’s take a look at exactly how each site performed.

Round 1: Social Shares

The first thing we are going to look at is how many times each of the articles was shared on a social network.

John Chow vs Search Engine Journal Social Shares

As you can see is clearly lagging behind with the article on SearchEngineJournal getting over 6 times more social activity across 4 networks.


Quite clearly the winner when it comes to social sharing!

Round 2: Comments

Next let’s take a look at how many comments each article generated.

John Chow vs Search Engine Journal Blog Comments

So SearchEngineJournal edges ahead when it comes to the comment numbers, but there are a few things we need to consider while looking at this number-

  1. The post had an awful lot more exposure
  2. On average posts get roughly 20 comments
  3. On average posts get roughly 10 comments

Without knowing how many unique visitors each post got it is hard to decide a winner.

In both cases my article generated a lot more comments than the average article receives.


And that’s a marginal win – John Chows smaller audience is more engaged than the larger audience of SEJ. He gets more comments from less traffic but overall SEJ landed the greater number.

Round 3: Traffic

This is where we start to see a real difference between the two audiences.

Remember, gets substantially more traffic from a professional audience, had 6 times more social shares & 50% more comments than John Chow.

John Chow vs Search Engine Journal Traffic

To be honest I was expecting these posts to bring more traffic than they did. I get similar levels of traffic from having the first comment on a popular post.

What we can see here though is a continued theme of engagement from John Chow’s audience.

Yes he sent 60% less traffic than SEJ but they visited more pages, spent more time on site and offered a much lower bounce rate.

To put those numbers into perspective, across my blog the average pages per visit is 2.57. The average visit duration is 4 minutes 56 seconds and the average bounce rate is 54%


I’ll take less but more engaged traffic over more but less engaged traffic any day!

Round 4: Conversion

I track 3 metrics on my site – email sign ups, affiliate clicks and tutorial resource downloads.

This is where it gets really interesting…

John Chow vs Search Engine Journal Goal Conversion Rates


The numbers really do speak for themselves in this round. John Chows audience convert very well. SEJ on the other hand, well they struggle to convert at all!


Clearly the winner hands down – I don’t even need to explain why.

It’s Going To The Judges

So they have both won 2 rounds a piece. SEJ provided more social shares, comments & traffic but JohnChow provided a more engaged audience that converted.

There is obviously a clear difference between the sites.

I think this is largely because John Chow’s blog is aimed at the make money online market where there are lots of people hungry to learn in their spare time.

Whereas Search Engine Journals audience are already full time internet marketing / SEO professionals and are generally busy people reading throughout their working day.

I believe the huge difference in social shares comes from the busier audience just retweeting things that catch their attention without necessarily reading it.

Both audiences have their own benefits. John Chow’s audience brought me new sign ups, but the post at Search Engine Journal helped expose my name to industry professionals.

Who Do You Think Won The Fight?

I really have no idea! Both John Chow and Search Engine Journal have their strengths – who won is really dependent on your businesses goals.

However I do know which the best internet marketing forum is for traffic!

What Are Your Thoughts?

80 Responses

  1. Wow, marvelous blog format! Нow ⅼong haѵе уou ever Ьeen running a blogg for? you maԀe blogging loоk easy.The whole glance of үour site iss fantastic, ɑѕ well as the content material!

  2. Hi, interesting case study. I keep pingbacks and trackbacks turned on in my Wordpress dashboard so if someone publishes my guest posts without telling me, I get a notice.

  3. Hi Matt,I don’t see any affiliate link other than your sites itself on your website, then how are you able to generate revenue through affiliates?Sorry for the question, I am just a beginner

  4. Based on #3 Traffic and #4 conversion JC is leading.I see the interest which goes further than just checking out the landing page as important. Also the biggest benefit is the high sign up rate for emails – you got fans for life

  5. Hey Matt do you think John’s crowd converted more perhaps because your topic isnt something that they would have had a lot of exposure to? where as the SEJ readers have more interaction with G alerts on a regular basis.great case study

  6. Wow you gave them a same article to published. Didn’t you think about they could suffer a so-called duplicate content because publishing the same article?

  7. I think nobody is the winner or the 2 sites are both winners. But I dont know how you were able to track these results and what metrics you used.

  8. Hey Matthew,Awesome Comparison. I really like it. Shared on Facebook as well :)But, I think none of these two sites will win because both of these sites have different audiences. And these different audiences have different schedules, priorities and needs.For example, if you start selling a course on SEO for beginners. Traffic from will convert better than the traffic from SEJ.Because you mentioned that the people coming from are mostly college students and graduates. These are the people who might be beginners or novice in SEO and interested in your SEO course.But on the other hand, People coming from SEJ are mostly SEOs. That means, they might not be interested in a Beginner’s guide because they are already above beginner level.By the way, I just read your guide on using Google Alerts. It’s awesome. I didn’t know what Google Alert does before reading this guide.Keep Kicking Asses =DThanks,Mohit Gangrade

  9. It is interesting to see how the 2 audiences behave and I guess when you reverse engineer it back it makes sense.As you state John Chow’s blog audience are the make money online types or “non-corporate” SEOs, if that makes sense. And they’re more ready to consider purchasing products and services from your affiliate links.SEJs audience, as has been said, more likely to be “corporate SEOs” browsing during work time. Maybe because they’re an “in-business or in-agency” SEO they’re hands are somewhat tied as to the techniques they use and also the products and services they purchase.Both great blogs full of valuable insight, but as a guest writer you’re going to get different things from each.I remember reading another one of your posts about defining your audience and speaking to directly to them. This really highlights the need to choose your guest posting targets wisely based on who reads that particular website.Great post!

  10. Thanks for sharing real time experience of 2 different internet marketing blogs. Well If any online entity has user engagement, it is considered as top class and prioritized place of cyber world. So both blogs were having their own type of users, which were engaged by their admins and you covered all factors i.e bounce rate, conversion, ROI. Whoever won or lost, but you won man!

  11. Hi, Matthew,I have a question regarding the video “3 New Major Google Ranking Factors You Don’t Know About Yet”.At the end of that video John states that we can fake user experiences. How can we do that? Is thhere any tutorial by you or you suggest? how about I use it but i dont think i know how to use it in the right way to look all natural to google.

  12. It’s technically possible now but you need every single affiliate program to place a tracking pixel for you, which isn’t likely 🙂

  13. Thank you Matthew for your reply, it’s your commitment to provide feedback to your customers what continues to command our loyal following.With regards to your reply it seems as though we need an accounting software that can track these results for us. I smell an opportunity!

  14. The winner would be the website that generated the most amount of revenue for you with the least amount of any marketing expenses. The metrics are great but it should have also shown some financial numbers to support the findings. Nonetheless, I am impressed.

    1. That’s very hard to do across 100+ affiliate programs although I would love a solution where I could map affiliate earnings to traffic source for any program.

  15. Hey Matt,Just recently stumbled upon your blog from I contribute to a few sites such as HuffPost, FastCo and others.I have been tracking the results thereof and you’re right, while bigger publications help maximize the eyeballs, more niched sites often convert and attract relevant traffic.

  16. Amazing Compare Matt, in my opinion John Chow is a winner because Round 3 and 4 are most convert. Thanks For Sharing Matt 🙂

  17. If the end goal is to enhance ones bank account (which it is in 99.9% of cases I would imagine), then John is the clear winner.

  18. What did you use to track the user data? Google Analytics? Something else? Do you already have a tutorial in place to show how you tracked it so neatly like this? Would be interesting to see how it’s done. Thanks for the great work.

  19. Solid content Matt. I prefer John Chow’s blog over Search Engine Journal’s. There’s a vibe I get on John Chow’s blog that I don’t get with SEJ. Search Engine Journal has more of a corporate feel to it whereas John Chow’s blog is more personal. Both great blogs nonetheless. Have a good one!

  20. As stated above already its a win both ways.Mr Chow sneaks it in my opinion (if income was my primary goal) because his referrals offers the most customer value.SEJ win – if exposure was my primary goal.the both of them combined – – priceless!!Another great delivery Matt

    1. Hi,I’m going to write another traffic fight showdown today but yes your right, the combination of both is the winning formula!

  21. ummm…I have a question.. Wont both the sites JC and SEJ will be scolded by Google for posting the same article.. just wondering.. anyway I too think John Chow is the winner.

    1. So would you say that the conversions offer more core value than the benefit of exposure to a professional audience?

  22. Nice comparison. But I can see you get the full benefit of both audiences 😉 and even a follow up posts to get up in the business 😀

  23. The last statement concerning two separate but important benefits pretty much sums up the reason for diversifying our marketing efforts..

    1. Purely looking at the metrics yes, but being on the radar of industry professionals is a metric you cannot track.

  24. Really awesome Matt! I love how you dive in to all the analytical stats, here. That's so awesome hot converted so well, and it does make a lot of sense – a younger crowed looking to learn how to make money online. It just seems a lot more targeted to that type of audience, as opposed to SEJ, although SEJ was great for exposing your brand to industry professionals.

    1. Thanks very much =DIt clearly shows the value in taking the time to understand your audience to get the maximum amount of benefit from your efforts.

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