I am a student at UNCC (the University of North Carolina at Charlotte) and there was another free speaker forum just this past night. This one was to be with the founder/owner of Icanhascheezburger.com and Failblog.org. I wanted to go because I have numerous websites I own and I figured I might learn some valuable information from Mr. Huh. I, unfortunately, was very wrong (I’ll explain this in a minute).
The event was to start at 7pm at McKnight Hall in the Cone Center. It started with this girl clearly reading word for word off her script as she was introducing Ben Huh (she could clearly benefit from taking some public speaking classes and joining the UNCC Toastmasters group) – very boring intro. Anyways, then Ben Huh came forward and greeted the crowd. Ben is easy to identify with his white framed glasses.
Ben started in by telling about his main website Icanhascheezburger.com and what they do to drive traffic. He threw out numbers like 30 million users per month, profitable during the recession, etc… This all sounded good and I had seen his main website once or twice before and I nearly got a fair amount of traffic – I didn’t know his website was in the top 100 in the world (30 million users per month gets you in at the bottom of this prestigious group).
So I listened to the rest of his speech and there wasn’t any real information on starting a website, advertising, or basically how to do anything. It was reminiscent of Robert Kiyosaki real estate investment meeting – you know the kind where they don’t give you much but generalities and then they promote their expensive DVD collection, private seminars, etc… Well, at least he wasn’t trying to hawk or sell anything to the UNCC students. But you could tell when Ben Huh finished that they all had many questions.
When it was over I found myself asking – “huh?” but he answered the huh earlier during his speech when he said he didn’t start this website Icanhascheezeburger. Instead he bought it from another guy. And supposedly he bought it when I had 1 million users per month. According to Ben Huh it now has over 30 million users per month. I also asked him after the speech if the recent Panda and other updates from Google had any effect on his websites – his reply was no and that they were actually better off after these updates.
His response to my question really sent alarm off to me that this guy was potentially full of crap. The last two or three updates from Google hit every body across every niche. Google has an ulterior motive for doing this – it’s for profitability. What they’re trying to do is make it so SEO (Search Engine Optimization) no longer works and you need to use SEM (Search Engine Marketing) which is primarily Google Adsense and costs more then it is worth 90% of the time. Google clearly has a monopoly on Internet search and is now clearly exhibiting illegal, anti-competitive behavior and needs to be broken up under antitrust legislation, but Google’s anti-competitive behavior is another subject I’ll talk about at another time.
Being that Ben Huh told me that they had no effect other than that he was supposedly better off after the last series of Google search updates, I needed to do a little more research in this. When I got home I did a quick little bit of research (due diligence) on Ben Huh and his websites and I quickly got some very interesting facts. First, his best websites are Icanhascheezeburger.com and Failblog.org and these websites were both rocked by Google in the past 12 months with a loss of over 48% of all traffic across both websites. Failblog.org had a high of 1.4 million users per month at the start of the past 12 months and as of this past month (March) traffic had dropped all the way to 832,000 users per month.
I found this same information on numerous authority sites on the Internet (Compete.com, Ranking.com, etc…) Now there are numerous problems with this. First, Ben Huh, greatly exaggerated the night traffic to his websites. Failblog.org is currently running at 832,000 users per month and dropping fast. His other website, Icanhascheezeburger.com, had a high of 1.2 million users per month and then dropped to 848,000.
These are his best websites, so if you add both of them together you end up with 1.6 million users per month and dropping fast. Now 1.6 million users per month is still good for a growing or fledgling website. But Mr. Huh himself clearly stated that he has over 30 million users per month. That is an exaggeration of almost 30 times the true amount! That’s not even close to being truthful.
Then you quip that with the fact that he told the students that he bought this website, Icanhascheezburger.com, when it had over 1 million users per month. Now he may have many years ago reached a peak of 30 million users, but the problem is that his website’s dependence on pictures of cats with neat little wordings and quips is and was a fad.
People have become bored of these cat pictures. The web has so much out there and new websites and ideas are turning up almost on a daily basis, so basically what’s happened here is that people that used to go to Icanhascheezburger.com and Failblog are leaving for other, better websites. This is most likely why he has not gone public with his company – no one wants to invest in a dying fad (One student asked about why he wasn’t or didn’t go public and his response was that he just wanted to stay private – yeah, right – I’m sure he would be glad to sell if someone would take him off of his dying website and fads).
One also has to question his profitability. I don’t know about you but if I had just lost 48% or more of my traffic which relates directly to advertising revenue (a 48% drop in traffic means a 48% or higher drop in advertising revenue – it can be higher as advertising companies tend to use lower paying ads on websites with faltering traffic) and is Ben Huh’s primary source of income I wouldn’t be profitable. Then if you go back farther with the site’s stats you will see they have been losing readers and users for years – a very bad sign…
Now on another note, Mr. Huh is a fairly interesting and good speaker, he just doesn’t have much to teach anyone if you can stick with the websites Icanhascheezburger.com and Failblog.org. students that went to this speaking event to learn something about websites, Internet advertising, monetizing websites, etc… were sorely disappointed. I think the school (UNCC) needs to do a better job of looking into the speakers and ferreting out the ones that are worthless or in some cases bullshit.
At least the good thing is that he wasn’t trying to sell anything for the students. I can only wonder what the school ended up paying Mr. Ben Huh for his basically worthless but semi-entertaining speech. It was a complete waste of time.