Ranking #1 is a Symptom

HomeFalse TeachingsRanking #1 is a Symptom

Over the years, GodWords has been ranked #1 on search engines again and again… from the good old days of Webcrawler and HotBot and Ask Jeeves to Google and Bing today. I’m not bragging. I say this to make what should be an obvious point about the state of things.

Most businesses and churches and non-profits would love to rank #1. For anything. Most don’t even rank #1 for their own name! A lot of companies pay a lot of money to try to reach #1. They pay fly-by-night SEO agencies. They pay local ad agencies who don’t know much about how the web works. They also pay big money to big agencies full of experts in the field, hoping to rank well enough to get just a bit more traffic than they would naturally get.

Why have I had so many #1 rankings?

Before I get to that, let me take a moment to provide a bit of credibility for my point of view.

I’ve been hand-coding websites since 1999. I’ve been a full-time freelance web designer since 2005, working from home before it was cool necessary. Before that I was a world-class expert in pay-per-click advertising, consulting with the biggest ad agencies and largest online advertisers in the world. I ran a team of experts for the leader in the field. I’m not patting myself on the back… I’m just saying that my work has revolved around websites for a long time.

I used to keep a file that listed my #1 rankings, organized by date and search engine, along with the total number of results for each search. Like this:

Elevation Church false doctrine – #1 on Google – 1,640,000 results

That’s from today. I stopped keeping track a long, long time ago… it was simply too much work to keep track of that much data. Those were the days when I longed to reach 10,000 visits per month.

GodWords isn’t a gigantic blog. At the time of this writing, I’ve written fewer than 500 articles. I get plenty of traffic, and lots of comments and emails… but it’s not like I’m a serious influencer in the church world. I’m a very small fish in a very big pond. I’m not trying to be anonymous, yet almost nobody knows my name. Why? Because I’m not really into promoting myself. So how have I reached #1 so many times for so many years?

How do I get to #1?

Enough about me. This isn’t about me at all, really. It’s about YOU.

If you’re like most GodWords readers, you arrived here for the first time today. You got here by asking a question at Google, or Bing, or DuckDuckGo, or some other search engine. You clicked on a result, and landed here. That’s the basics of how search engines work. You ask, they deliver, you browse.

What were you looking for? I’m not sure. Here’s what I know: you were hoping to find answers. Most of my traffic comes from people asking questions about baptism, or false teachers, or sabbath-keeping. Some ask more questions when they get here, and I work hard to answer them all. Here’s the point: people are looking for help.

We don’t know who to trust anymore

Read that again. You know it’s true: we don’t know who to trust anymore. Here in America, we used to (mostly) trust our government, our pastors, and TV news. Things have changed. Today, we see that our government is as divided as the people on the street… if not more. Today, we see that TV news is less like real journalism and more like an argument about which points of view make you a better person. Today, we’re pretty cynical about pastors. Why? Because there are so many high-profile church leaders who aren’t much like Jesus. They seem more like politicians and news commentators.

THAT is why GodWords has ranked #1 for so many years. People are hungry, and a lot of us aren’t getting fed properly. When it comes to the important questions in life – the stuff that really matters – we’re starving.

The questions are shocking

Again and again, I’m shocked at what people will ask me. I’m a stranger to 99.9% of you, yet people ask the most personal, transparent, intimate questions… all the time. Why? Because they don’t know who to trust. They’re willing to take a chance on being vulnerable to a stranger because they have nothing left to lose. They can’t ask their pastor (for whatever reason). Their politicians don’t seem like a good source of truth. TV news? Um, no.

When it comes to the most important questions in life, most of them have something to do with the following:

That last one is the big one. When it comes to making important life decisions, we want to get things right… but we don’t know how life works, or who to listen to. We’re desperate for something we CAN believe in. For someone we CAN trust.

Spoiler alert: you really can trust God… but that’s not the point today.

False teachers make me more popular

I’ve been fascinated by false teachers since the late 70’s. Yeah, I’m that old. However: I didn’t write anything about false teachers on GodWords for over 20 years. Why? Because that’s a big fat can of worms I didn’t really want to open. You can’t put the worms back in the can after that.

My pastor asked whether I knew anything about the New Apostolic Reformation. I didn’t know much, so I did some research. I published my findings, and that broke the ice. I decided it was finally time to bust open that can of worms. Why? Because people have been asking about false teachers for years, and I only answered their questions via email. Rather than answering the same questions again and again, I should publish what I know so more people can learn the truth.

Since then, I’ve written a number of articles about false teachers. They quickly became the most popular articles on GodWords. Why? Because people are STARVING FOR TRUTH. That’s why false teachers become popular in the first place, of course… and that’s why writing about them brings traffic to GodWords.

Some examples

This morning, Google gave me some numbers on my traffic. That’s why I’m writing this. I’m excited about bringing in new readers, but I’m sad that so many actually NEED to ask strangers important questions about what’s true and what’s not true. Today, here’s where I rank for some prominent searches:

Those are all first-page results. I could list more, but you get the point. I’m not patting myself on the back. I wish I didn’t have to answer questions about false teachers. I wish people were able to tell the difference between truth and lies. I wish more people could ask their pastors about the truth… but many of the questions I get are ABOUT those pastors.


Folks, I love you. I’m glad you’re here, as that gives me the opportunity to try to be helpful. I’m sorry you had to search the web to find a stranger to talk to.

What would it take for me to no longer be useful to so many people? It’s simple:

  1. Churches need to teach and preach directly from the Bible, and primarily the New Testament. That’s you, pastor. That’s you, teacher. That’s me, too.
  2. Christians need to decide to take their faith more seriously. Being a Christian isn’t about reading the Bible or attending church or voting a certain way or donating to the right charities. Being a Christian isn’t about avoiding sin and making sure the ‘dirty world’ stays outside your bubble of godliness. Being a Christian is about laying down your life, taking up your cross, and following Jesus.

That’s it. A Christian isn’t a believer. A Christian is a disciple… a student of Jesus, who works hard to listen, learn, and obey Him. If more churches taught directly from the Bible, more Christians would understand what it means to follow Jesus.

If more Christians followed Jesus more closely, more non-Christians would realize that THAT is what they’ve been searching for all along. 1 John 5:12 is my closing thought:

God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

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One response to “Ranking #1 is a Symptom”

  1. Janel McCartney says:

    Love this article!

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