SEO Contests Are Gaining Industry RespectSearch Engine Optimization companies have been around as long as there have been search engines. In the early days, I ignored SEO contests as a tasteless attempt to spam up the search engines, especially when I saw target search terms such as: "nigritude ultramarine", "seraphim proudleduck", and "v7ndotcom elursrebmem". But, my initial attitudes towards SEO contests have changed.
The first SEO contest was the "nigritude ultramarine" competition, and it offered an iPod as the grand prize for the contest. That contest was actually offered by the Search Guild at: www.searchguild.com/tpage10157-0.html This contest ran for 60 days. At the end of the competition, whichever websites held the top two listings in the Google search results, for the target keyword phrase, would win the top two prizes.
The conceptual purpose of the SEO contest is to bring the sharpest minds in search optimization to the table and give them a chance to prove themselves on a level playing field against their top competitors. At the end of the contest, most contest sponsors ask the winners to share some of their secrets for success. By design, it will produce two outcomes: those who really know their stuff get to shine in a public spotlight, and it may help industry practitioners improve their technique.
All was happy in the SEO community, until they saw the "v7ndotcom elursrebmem" contest, which was offering cash prizes. Many people felt that the sponsor of that campaign acted in poor taste when he admitted that he was putting up the money for the contest, on the premise of actually driving link popularity to his own website. Read more about that controversy here: www.seroundtable.com/archives/003044.html
These days, it does not seem to be such a bad thing for people to sponsor SEO contests that help pass link popularity back to their own websites. In fact, the practice seems to be pretty commonplace. Personally, I don't see it as a bad thing really, since the person putting up the money for the contest is seldom a person with the simplest of altruistic motives.
While the Search Guild was no slouch, I did not actually pay attention to SEO contests, until which time I had seen that www.searchenginejournal.com was playing the game. All of a sudden, I started paying attention.
In early June of 2008, I was browsing the Digital Point forums (forums.digitalpoint.com) and I saw a mention of a new SEO contest. So, I popped in for a quick look.
I searched the target keyword phrase in Google and realized that the contest was so new that only fifty web pages were competing at that time. One of the top ranking posts was one made by the Search Engine Journal, so I read their post. I had been expecting them to be slamming the practice, but I realized that they were playing the game along with everyone else.
Of course, I have an axe of my own to grind. I have told people for years that if they used article marketing smartly, then they could successfully utilize article marketing to influence Google, Yahoo and MSN's search listing for specific keywords. For a time, I had even operated a SEO link building service at www.linksandtraffic.com for the purpose of selling folks a service that enabled them to get the same kind of ranking value I was getting for my own websites.
Links and Traffic was a successful enterprise until which time Google's Matt Cutts started to question "paid links" and to inform the Internet marketing community that "paid links" were a big no-no in Google's search algorithms. But, customers never really understood that Google views links derived from article marketing differently, than links purchased on high PageRank pages, solely for the purpose of buying PageRank value.
I left Links and Traffic in place, but I took my own link building services off the table, until which time the marketplace began to understand that links derived from article marketing were different from links that were outright purchased. If I were to tell you how many inbound links I have successfully derived from article marketing for my websites (as evidenced in my Google Webmaster Tools console: www.google.com/webmasters), you would fall over. If you understood how many keywords I rank for in the top search engines, you would probably scream.
So, I had my own axe to grind. I saw the Blackhat Fish contest (article-blog.thephantomwriters.com/whitehat-vs-blackhat-fish-for-links-or-die-trying/2008/06/10/) to be a perfect opportunity to showcase how I actually practice what I preach, and deliver what I promise by moving my websites up in the search results for my target keywords, utilizing article marketing as a primary tool in my SEO arsenal and SEO philosophy.
We are still a couple of weeks from the conclusion of this particular contest, and my full rollout is still in progress, but I am bouncing between page one and page two of Google's search results, against what is at this time 233,000 results for this keyword phrase in Google (www.google.com/search?q=blackhat+fish).
Some SEO gurus have told me for years that they think I am full of crap, but the proof is in the pudding. If I am so full of crap, as some of these so-called experts would have you believe, then how is it that my blog post titled, "Whitehat vs. Blackhat: Fish For Links or Die Trying", is holding its own against some of the most influential SEO companies on the Internet? Check the Google link above to see how I am doing against the professionals... The proof is in the pudding.
If you fancy yourself to be good at search engine optimization, or if you are like me and you want to test your own skills against the big boys, then bookmark the following website (www.seocontests.info) and visit often enough to keep up on what is going on in the SEO contest world. Of course, not all SEO contests get posted on this website, so keep an eye to the various forums as well, to catch the news of upcoming and current SEO contests.
Wouldn't it be so cool if we the people could outrank the professionals in a few of these SEO contests? I don't actually think I will win this competition, but it would be more than awesome if at the end of this contest, I was sitting on page one of the search results, while all of the pro's are sitting scratching their heads as to how they were outperformed by a person they have so many times referred to as an amateur. ;-)
At the end of the day, it really does not matter to me if I win this competition or if I gain the respect of my peers. What matters to me is that I know how I can help "my" websites win in the search ranking game, for the keywords that matter to my business and my bottom line. In the long run, I will make much more money selling my products and services, than I ever will make winning a single SEO contest. So, I am just going to keep doing what it is that I do to strengthen my own search rankings, and if I win a contest or two along the way, sweet.