NOTE: My statements are not necessarily my opinions. I often post point-counterpoint essays in which I strongly take one side of an issue and later counter that with antithetical views. This intellectual exercise helps me see the merit in opposing opinions and augments my creativity.

1. How I went from zero to #1 in Google rankings
2. Modesty as a manifestation of narcissism
3. How the elite and their helpers use modesty to subjugate

Wondering how to improve your search engine rankings?

I went from zero to #1 in Google rankings—and stayed there (here's proof)—without spending a dime on advertising.

I didn't rocket to the top and stay there by listening to the search engine optimization (SEO) experts. Think about it: millions of people listen to their advice. If you do what millions of others do, how can you stand out from the crowd?

You can't.

You need people writing about your site online and linking to it, but how do you do that?

When I published my first website, I read about Google's search algorithm that determines page rank, and hence how high up a Web page appears in search results. A page that is at or near the top will be seen by more people, some of whom will link to it in their blogs or websites. Google bots detect these new incoming links, which increases the ranking of the page that is linked to, which pushes it higher in the rankings, so more people see it and link to it, which pushes it still higher. See the snowball effect developing?

Conversely, pages far down the rankings are seen by few (or no) people, so they won't link to them. A lack of incoming links keeps them low. This is analogous to how the rich get richer, and the poor stay poor.

If few people see your site, how can you get the links you need to rise to the top? You can listen to my outside-the-box strategy for improving website visibility.

Which is?

Appeal to people's emotions. If you make a good point, impart useful information, or entertain someone, what's the chance of that person being so eager to write about your site that he or she takes the time to do that instead of surfing to the next page?

Not zero, but close to it.

However, if you get someone riled up, he or she often can't wait to disagree with or criticize you. Some people are so obsessive that once you get their dander up, they'll figuratively go on the warpath, repeatedly attacking you or your website, sometimes for weeks, months, or even years.

Nutty? You bet.

I know what you're thinking: “I want people to like me, my product, website, etc.”

Of course you do! But if you're #8,000,000 in Google rankings (and many sites are), no one will notice you. You're worse than disliked: you're a nobody, at least on the Net. Over 99% of websites receive little to no attention from search engine users.

Something (daunting) to think about:

intimidated

If a search returns 1,000,000 results, 10,000 of those are in the top 1%. Now who looks at 10,000 results? No one.

Your site could be ahead of 99.9% of other results, and you could still have 1000 pages higher than yours.

If you're ahead of 99.99%, 100 pages could still appear higher.

Thus, to get in the coveted top 10 (where you stand a reasonable chance of being noticed), you must beat 99.999% of other pages.

As if those odds are not daunting enough, many searches return more than 1,000,000 results. Thus, to be in the top 10 for a search returning 10,000,000 results, you must beat 99.9999% of other pages. To do that, you need more than luck and following SEO “secrets” that many webmasters know about.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

If you type away and no one reads it, you might as well not type.

If you stand out in any way, you will be attacked. That's an ugly side of human nature. Not everyone acts this way, of course, but enough do that the miscreants are sure to find you. Small-minded people excel in finding the negative in others, and delight in cutting people down to their level, whether or not those attacks are warranted. Other simple creatures—crabs—also like keeping others on their low level. Buckets holding crabs don't need tall sides or a top to keep crabs in their place; all it takes is at least two crabs. If one tries to climb out, another will pull it back down. Thom Singer correctly noted that many people “are so threatened by anyone else reaching for the stars, that they work hard to pull them back down to earth.

Now for some good news: You don't have to be bad to be attacked as if you are; you only need to stand out, and let human nature take its course. Small-minded people will do the rest, blasting you or your product or service, and often linking to your website. Google doesn't care if a person is linking to you because they want to make the world believe you steal candy from children, or if they love you. To Google, a link near negative comments is just as important as a link near positive comments.

Now for more good news: Nuts usually sound like nuts. Other nuts and dimwits will swallow their blather hook, line, and sinker, but smart, sane people think for themselves and sense when an attack is unwarranted. Great people usually are ridiculed—more about that in a minute—so if you are, you're in good company.

“Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.”
— Euripides, Greek tragic dramatist (484 BC - 406 BC)

“Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities.”
— Oscar Wilde

“Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius.”
— Fulton J. Sheen

“When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”
— Jonathan Swift

Think of it this way: about half the country loved the best President in recent U.S. history, while the other half hated and ridiculed him. How could someone so loved and respected by so many be so despised by others?

To illustrate how even the best will be attacked on the Internet, consider this: Mercedes-Benz is practically a synonym for superb engineering, yet searching on Google for mercedes benz sucks returns about 517,000 results.

Similarly, you can find people who think that George Washington, apple pie, puppies, kittens, and even weekends suck. Go figure.

adorable

No doubt there are even folks who are perturbed by adorable models in zany costumes.

Mature and mentally healthy people are not easily annoyed to the point that revenge dominates their minds, so if you are repeatedly attacked on the Internet and aren't any more imperfect than the rest of us imperfect humans, there's an excellent chance that your critics should spend less time giving the world a piece of their small minds and more time with their psychiatrists.

Countless people walk around with a chip on their shoulders. Emboldened by the anonymity of the Internet, they can turn a molehill of disagreement into a mountain of rage.

If you make a great point that rubs someone the wrong way, go against the grain of conventional wisdom when that wisdom is wrong, or do anything else which might perturb folks who cannot stand people smarter than they are, you will be attacked.

I learned an important marketing lesson decades ago from Muhammad Ali, who was equally as famous for his bragging as his boxing. His stock phrase was, “I am the greatest!” This rubbed many people the wrong way and led them to conclude that he was arrogant. No, just smart. Ali knew that bluster would make more people pay attention to him, especially the ones who hate braggarts. They'd watch him fight, just to see him get beat up—or so they hoped. Win or lose, Ali made more money.

Almost every major breakthrough is met with resistance and often ridiculed (see my article on ridiculing good new ideas). You don't need to say, “I am the greatest!”You could matter-of-factly state that you found a way to do something new, or that you discovered a fact that doesn't fit with existing ideas.

In 1905, Orville and Wilbur Wright tried to interest the United States War Department in their new invention, a practical airplane, but they were repeatedly turned down. The War Department initially thought that they were crackpots, and later deemed the airplane to be of no military significance.

The Wright Brothers were dubbed The Lying Brothers by Scientific American magazine, who asserted they were lying about their achievements, but the editors were too lazy to verify their claims were indeed accurate. Imagine that: the inventors of one of the best ideas of all time were deemed “crackpots” by mental midgets.

William Harvey, who discovered the circulation of blood, was ridiculed. So were countless other scientists and inventors.

The brilliant scientists who introduced the germ theory of disease were mocked by world-famous professors and other experts who said it was ridiculous to suggest that microorganisms too small to be seen with the naked eye could injure and kill animals—but they obviously do.

“Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”
— Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology, 1872

“Experts” once also laughed at people who said the Earth was not flat and that the Earth was not the center of the universe. Myriad examples of close-mindedness shows that ridicule is one of the first and most pathetic steps the old guard uses to defend their antiquated positions.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
— Mahatma Gandhi

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
— Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 – 1860)

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
— Albert Einstein

“It is socially unacceptable to be right too early.”
— Robert Heinlein

“As with the little child questioning the emperor's clothing, sometimes the entire scientific community is misguided and incompetent. Sometimes only the lone voice of the maverick scientist is telling the truth.”
William Beaty

“It is easy to stand with a crowd, but it takes courage to stand alone.”
— Unknown

skeptical

It is natural to be skeptical, but one can be skeptical without being mean, nasty, spiteful, filled with hate, and looking for any flimsy excuse to vent vitriol and unload the chips carried on the shoulders of people who can't stand those who dare to be different.

The experts and the elite want the rest of us to figuratively tuck our tails between our legs and cower in silence, too afraid to challenge their beliefs as they bask in the limelight, even when they are dead wrong.

Had we listened to experts who ridiculed great new ideas in science and technology, we'd practically be back in the Stone Age.

The elite don't want you to shine, they want the glory for themselves, so they engineered social conventions to keep others too meek to challenge them. If you're a good little sheeple, you will figuratively be given a gold star (the reward of feeling modest) for camouflaging your gifts so the gifts of the elite—which are often surprisingly exiguous—appear more prominent. The elite seem taller when others lie down, which makes it easier for them to walk all over us—but that's a story for another day.

The people at the top of the totem pole often don't belong there. Their ascent is often attributable to the old boys' club, luck, or nepotism. Sliding past others often requires less brainpower and achievements than having the good fortune to slide down the right birth canal. I've met CEOs who fetter our economy with their pigheadedness but keep their jobs because they were born into the right family.

If our political, business, and educational leaders were half as great as they think they are, our world would be a much better and more prosperous place. Leaders often have big heads, not big ideas. Psychologists found why big shots are often close-minded. Once you understand that, it is easy to see why they ridicule and otherwise undermine anyone who threatens their position at the top. However, they have plenty of helpers: mindless sheeple who pile on anyone who suggests a new idea or a new way of doing something.

For example, I discovered ways of enhancing brainpower and creativity that enabled me to go from dunce to doctor and invent almost as easily as others breathe. I wanted others to benefit from those ideas, so I mentioned some of them on two of my ER sites (ER-doctor.com and ERbook.net). Unless a website hooks a visitor within 15 seconds, that person is usually long gone, onto other sites, never to return. Knowing this, I knew I'd get nowhere with the low-key approach: just let people read what I write and figure out for themselves that I am smart enough to merit attention.

stunning beauty
Just as the three most important factors in real estate are location, location, and location, the three most important factors in facial appearance are genes, genes, and genes.

The primary problem with that low-key approach is that most people don't realize the extent to which brainpower can be augmented, so they assume that smart people were always that way and hence are as unqualified to lecture about intelligence as a woman who was born beautiful is to lecture about appearance. What could they teach us: be sure to have the right genes? Let's face it: most geniuses and stunning beauties were born with their gifts; for them to lecture us is a waste of their time, and ours.

My sixth-grade teacher called me “slow,” and I struggled my first two years of high school. I felt lucky to receive Ds in some classes that I should have flunked. My goal wasn't to become a doctor, but to drop out and work in an auto plant. Then I serendipitously stumbled on ways to expand every facet of brainpower from intelligence to creativity, which enabled me to achieve things my teacher with his fancy education degree would have said were impossible.

I began writing about my intellectual metamorphosis because I wanted to help others achieve their dreams—even dreams that “experts” would laugh at. I helped students become doctors even when they thought they stood a snowball's chance in hell of achieving that goal. Now that scientists have proven it is possible to boost brainpower, I'm having the last laugh and wondering if it will take them another decade or two to discover other brainpower-boosting methods I knew about long ago.

I knew that students could learn more about enhancing brainpower from me than they could from people who were born on third base, yet act as if they just hit a triple, so I knew I had 15 seconds to persuade them that I wasn't born on third base. I knew that hiding my intellectual metamorphosis from dunce to doctor would keep students listening to the little voice of negativity inside themselves and to teachers, such as the one who called me “slow,” who could offer similar put-downs but no great advice.

“Hide not your talents; they for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade?”
— Benjamin Franklin

If I hid my starting point and accomplishments, virtually no one would pay attention to me. You wouldn't hire a builder who claimed he was good with a hammer; you'd want to see what he built, right?

Some of my sheds:

my sheds
See more >

However, matter-of-factly mentioning where I began and ended up was enough to drive many immature people nuts with envy that extinguished their common sense. In their desperation to attack me, they dug to ridiculously low levels—even attacking my sheds and various inventions—and concocted a number of smears that I will refute, one by one, until I prove that they aren't just wrong, but behaving like desperate lunatics.

I think one of the best ways to judge whether someone is doing the right thing is to put yourself in the shoes of others. Using this standard, I know that if I stumbled onto someone's website who had something truly worthwhile to offer, I'd wonder what was wrong with that person if he or she concluded they were doing the right thing by hiding their worth. A sundial in the shade is worthless.

We live in a fast-paced world. If you can help me or others yet hide your talents, those talents will go to waste; you will have frittered away a chance to make this world a better place. You can pat yourself on your back if you wish, congratulating yourself on your modesty, but let's face it: most modesty is false modesty. Bright people know they're smart, gorgeous women know they're hot, superb athletes know they're talented.

Paradoxically, it is often narcissists who feign modesty, as Dr. Sam Vaknin points out. Narcissists use modesty and self-effacing comments or behavior as part of their mind games that attempt to co-opt social conventions of conduct to further elevate their self-opinions. The most healthy and adaptive self-appraisal is to accurately assess your characteristics, neither minimizing nor overrating them.

Accurately representing yourself to the world is like truth in advertising. Just as you—and the FTC!—don't want to see ads that overly hype a product or service, ads that deliberately underplay the value of something are an utter waste of time for the company and consumers.

Clearly, straightforwardly stating the merit of some person, product, or service is best for everyone, yet such matter-of-fact representations infuriate some people. My advice? Let them wallow in their rage as they battle fruitlessly against reality.

“Modesty is a vastly overrated virtue.”
— John Kenneth Galbraith

“Modesty is the gentle art of enhancing your charm by pretending not to be aware of it.”
— Oliver Herford

“Modesty is the only sure bait when you angle for praise.”
— Lord Chesterfield

“With people of limited ability modesty is merely honesty. But with those who possess great talent it is hypocrisy.”
— Arthur Schopenhauer

Several years ago, I was eating dinner with my Mom in a restaurant when someone collapsed. A large group had gathered around the woman before I noticed what was going on. I approached and saw that people were gawking as they usually do, but doing nothing to assess or help her. I announced that I am a doctor, so they immediately moved to make way for me. In that case, that's all it took so I could be in a position to help. However, on the Internet, with 15 seconds to hook people or lose 'em, hiding one's worth ensures that you won't stand out even if you could. Ben Franklin thought that hiding talent is a mistake, and it is.

By not hiding your talent, you have a much better chance of helping others, and a much greater chance of eliciting inadvertent help from insecure mental midgets who hope to trash you. However, those incoming links will help you rise to the top of Google rankings.

A search engine optimization secret you can skip

SEO gurus (many of whom are self-anointed and don't have any #1 sites) often say that search engines favor websites with fresh content. Perhaps, but adding new pages and new content to existing pages is not necessary to be #1.

After saying almost everything I wanted to say on my ER sites (I'm saving the rest for upcoming books), I sometimes go years without adding a single new ER page or word to old ER pages, yet I'm still #1 and therefore ahead of sites that frequently add new content, including forum sites in which thousands of contributors merrily typing away should give them an insurmountable lead over little ol' me. Instead, I can't recall the last time I saw such a site in the top 10 competing against me. It's as if Google has a sixth sense for detecting intelligent, quality content. If you read forum posts (especially on the site I have in mind), there's lots of chaff and little wheat: many people talking about things they know little to nothing about. Google is smart enough to know that multiplying garbage by 100,000 or more does not make it any more valuable; more crap is just more crap.

In summary

You can increase your search engine rankings by saying things that are provocative, contentious, controversial, or otherwise capable of triggering people's emotions. Dare to stand out, and you will, IF you have intelligent, quality content that appeals to smart people who find your site. You need superb content and pizzazz, so spice up your writing.

More SEO tips

In this article, I've described one outside-the-box way to improve search engine rankings. I'll present more methods in subsequent articles. Until then, here's something to ponder: improving Google rankings are the end-point for most people, but they can also be a stepping-stone to achieve something else. Anyone care to guess what that might be in my case?

The views expressed on this page may or may not reflect my current opinions, nor do they necessarily represent my past ones. After reading a slice of what I wrote in my various websites and books, you may conclude that I am a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican. Wrong; there is a better alternative. Just as the primary benefit from debate classes results when students present and defend opinions contrary to their own, I use a similar strategy as a creative writing tool to expand my brainpower—and yours. Mystified? Stay tuned for an explanation. PS: The wheels in your head are already turning a bit faster, aren't they?

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

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