They made a mistake in the migration and left a meta robots value of noindex on every page. This will actually prevent the new domain from showing in the SERPs even though they 301 redirected the old website. They'll read my blog and fix it now I'm sure, but this mistake could have cost them the SEO Hero Challenge.
In breaking news, Wix has redirected seoheroschool.com to giftedseohero.com maybe because of the negative SEO, a re-brand, or a penalty? I'm amazed they would do this in the middle of the competition! The domain does look to have been registered within the entry window for the SEO Hero Challenge so it should be eligible assuming they entered it (of course who could check them on this?) I'm still not sure why they would do this since they setup a redirect and it doesn't really solve any issues that may have been caused by the links.
I was looking back at some of the changes to the website and noticed they added the yoga studio in the Bronx, NY back to their SEO Heroes page. They had killed off links to the villains page and placed the villains on a homepage slider, but the page itself still works http://www.giftedseohero.com/seo-villains and was not redirected. There are also a couple pages that got indexed when they copied pages that are still indexed such as: http://www.seoheroschool.com/copy-of-alumni and http://www.seoheroschool.com/copy-of-seo-villains.
My original plan for the SEO Hero contest hatched back in November at Internet Summit was going to somewhat similar to whichseohero.com. I wasn't going to have the quiz or anything, but I did want to have a vote system for favorite SEOs which I did end up making with SEO Heroes and Heroines but this was just step one. I wanted to take the top SEO Heroes and Heroines and create a character around each one. I wanted to make caricatures of each of the SEOs in their new personas and create a playing card deck with many of them as characters on the cards. I was going to have people vote on what type of character or persona each should be after brainstorming a few ideas and vote on which card each one should go. I thought the deck would be a cool gift and giveaway at conferences since I don't have a book like many of the other SEOs who speak.
I had many of these planned out already like Rand Fishkin would probably end up being the Wizard of Moz with an obvious Wizard of Oz character and probably Ryan Jones as the Joker because I'm a big fan of WTF SEO. In the end my strategy shifted to covering the contest and making resources people interested in the contest would want like daily rankings, a competitor list with strategies, and contest analysis. SEO Heroes and Heroines was ruined by Russ Jones and some other technical SEOs because apparently Listly doesn't use any kind of authentication and doesn't protect it's script well at all. I went with Listly on Paul Shapiro's recommendation which honestly saved me a lot of time because I was going to develop my own, but mine probably would have been a lot worse. It's still a cool idea I think and I may still make the playing cards, but the moral of the story is that strategies evolve and Be An SEO Hero today looks nothing like it's original concept.
I thought Wix was done with this tactic after being called out on it, but I guess it wasn't enough to change years of bad practices. Go see https://www.websitetooltester.com/en/blog/wix-seo/ with many of the tell-tale signs of a paid placement like many of the others. The website makes it's money mostly from affiliate marketing and even claimed they refused to sell their top spot to a certain website provider *cough* Wix (see below). In the article they talk about how great Wix is, how they've cleaned up most of the problems, they talk about John Mueller mentioning Wix websites work fine in search (which Wix loves to tout) and then bam, there's the link promotion for SEO Hero School. Oh did I forget to mention they also use graphics from SEO Hero School? There's no reason to link to this in a post talking about Wix fixing some of their SEO issues and reviewing them. It's again keyword rich anchor text, and with a dive into other parts of the website, I found sidebar ads for Wix. This is really disappointing that Wix is keeping with this tactic in the SEO Hero Challenge that breaks their own rules.
In fact, if you have been to other site builder comparison websites you may have seen one specific provider ranking number 1 again and again. Well, they also asked us whether they could buy our top position. Obviously we refused. It may not be so beneficial to our earnings but at least we can be proud of our work.
I checked many of these websites and unsurprisingly it is Wix who is usually number 1. I guess these guys can be proud they didn't sell them a fake review, but it does look like Wix has a sidebar ad on many of the pages on the website as well as the article mentioned earlier which looks to be a thinly veiled paid promotion for SEO Hero School.
I orignally missed this as it was before I was looking for paid links I believe, but here's another website http://www.dessignare.com/2017/01/ilustracion-mundowix-presenta-seo-hero.html where it looks like Wix paid for a link. It's got all the signs again like a page for partnerships where they mention they work as promoters, and while the website is meant to "promote the work of independent designers, digital art studios and companies in the creative industries", they're promoting the artistic works of Wix on SEO Hero School. The website has posted about Wix before as we've seen with many of the other links that look paid for. The article itself has multiple links to Wix and their social media profiles and looks like it could have been a written press release from Wix themselves.
The very first thing I wrote for the SEO Hero Challenge was placeholder text while I brainstormed a bit more and got a website set up. The second thing I wrote on November 18 was a piece that was meant to be controversial but never gained traction. This was Why no one can win the Wix SEO Hero Contest. There were still a lot of questions on the rules and what was going to happen. In it, I suggested jokingly that Wix could link from their contest page or even Wix's homepage to their SEO Hero website and that this would be the best link that anyone in the competition could hope for since all of the contestants and news websites covering the contest will link to this and it's sure to be the first search result. This part was meant to be controversial and I never thought they would actually do it. That's like doing a giveaway and having someone at your company win, it just feels wrong and leaves a bad taste in people's mouths. No one running a fair and decent contest would think to do such a thing, but I don't think the Wix SEO Hero Challenge was meant to be fair from the start. I mentioned a couple days ago how Wix has leveraged channels and methods not available to other SEO Heroes such as buying paid ads on AdWords and Facebook, promoting to massive social channels on Twitter and Facebook, promoting on the Wix blog, in the Wix newsletter, and even buying links from people they already had pre-existing advertising relationships with. After the contest Wix will just run a big advertising campaign saying how awesome they are for SEO and their customers and future customers will simply believe it. There will be the 0.01% that know what they did and how they violated the rules of their own contest to win, but the vast majority of the people will not know or care.
SEO Hero School got rid of the villains page and moved them to the homepage under the heroes. There are now 2 sliders back to back with the heroes and villains and it drives me crazy. Wix changed courses to boot camp and removed dropdown items from Wix SEO Heroes (I called that one). In the process it looks like Wix mistakenly got rid of one of their heroes (the yoga studio in the Bronx, NY) and while the page still exists, it is no longer linked on the website.
How low will Wix go when it comes to getting every possible advantage in the SEO Hero Challenge? What's the most unsportsmanlike thing you can think of? How about linking from the contest announcement page and contest support page which almost everyone talking about the SEO Hero contest has linked to? That's exactly what Wix did in some shameless linkbuilding. They really don't want this contest to be fair and I wouldn't be surprised to see a link from Wix.com to their SEO Hero website before this contest is over. These are some of the strongest and most relevant links Wix could get in the SEO Hero contest and they engineered it so no one else could get these links. We've seen some shady things from Wix already but I'm truly disappointed by this latest effort. It's a blatent slap in the face of every SEO Hero competitor out there.
There's a lot of confusion surrounding 307 redirects and I've seen some crazy explanations from people that simply aren't true. Most people believe that all 307s happen at the server level and are treated like 302s and think it's a terrible practice to use them. In fact, most of the 307s you see these days are because of a good practice, that of setting up HSTS which is a browser cached redirect and takes out one of the checks with a server by always making a connection https by default, reducing the connection time and speeding up your website. You can usually see the original status code if you are checking in private browsing with no cache, but the second time you go to that website you should see a 307. I was doing some testing with this on Be An SEO Hero last night and after changing from a 301 to a 302 (behind the 307), I can confirm that Google sees whatever the original redirect is (a 301 or 302) rather than the 307. So remember, even when adding HSTS it's important to have the proper status code set for your redirects even if the browser always shows a 307.
Not only did Wix know the SEO Hero contest was coming and have time to prepare, it looks like Wix budgeted for some nice extras like paid advertising to promote their website through Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. I still laugh when I see the Wix AdWords ad for "seo hero" searches. They've also promoted their website on their Wix.com blog, in their email newsletter, and on their social media networks that have huge followings. If that wasn't enough, it looks like they used some pre-existing relationships to buy links for their SEO Hero School website. This amount of planning, manpower to execute, opening of the pocketbook, and leveraging existing networks and relationships was out of the reach of many wannabe SEO Heroes. The contest has a huge bias towards Wix, but they knew that and leveraged every channel they could for promotion because they really need to win to prove they are the best. Wix has taken it a bit too far at times and yet they're still in 9th place of the eligible contest websites. Wix is running out of time and if they really want to prove they are the best, I'm afraid they're going to take more shortcuts like more bought links or do something out of the reach of all the other SEO Heroes like a promotion of their SEO Hero website during the Super Bowl in order to win the SEO Hero Challenge.
In many of the past competitions, as many SEOs realized they didn't have a chance to win the contest any longer, they pledged their support and linked to a competitor they liked or who had a good cause. I think we'll see the same thing in the SEO Hero Challenge in the last few weeks. Some SEO Heroes have already given up because they didn't have the time to invest in the contest or they simply weren't competitive. We'll probably see many of those heroes become SEO sidekicks and they could play a large role in determining the winner of the Wix SEO Hero Challenge.
In Wix's latest SEO Hero School entry, Wix's SEO Hero is a yoga studio owner. The owner set herself apart as an SEO Hero according to Wix, but in the post she admits to hiring an SEO agency. It says she's constantly adding new content, but with only 22 pages indexed and many of those being lightbox images, I think her and I have a different concept of "constantly". They talk about how fast the results have been, but it looks like the website has been live since 2015 but didn't gain much traction until the end of last year. The owner says: "We are leaving our competitors behind. Only a big franchise like Bikhram Yoga is ahead of us and everyday we rank better and better" There's another quote where she says she is second and it happened so fast, but for most of their targeted terms I see them in 5th or 6th, so she may be seeing personalized results of the Google SERPs and not realizing it. Many others are beating them and I didn't see them in the map packs at all despite the fact they have an SEO agency and used Wix's Site Booster App which submits to many local citation websites. I'm also seeing a lot of missing citations and Moz Local showed me that many of the listings have their brand name twice in the listing, oops! I'd fire the agency for the type of links they're building personally, as they're mainly guest and sponsored posts. This website still needs lots of local citations and some citation cleanup work and many of the industry specific links that a yoga studio should have. They skipped the basics and went right to outreach and paying for links which is just a bad idea. As before, the ego bait worked and the owner wrote high praise of Wix and promoted their SEO Hero website.
For the website, there are some title tag issues with being too long and keyword stuffed. One even mentions Bronx 3 times and many repeat NY, yoga, or zumba. The same image issues we've seen on other Wix websites are here with the image names being overwritten and the alt attributes being not filled out or many filled with generic names. There's an issue with multiple h1 tags on some of the pages and the brand seems to be wrapped in an h2, but otherwise I'm not seeing them be used much. For such a small website there are quite a few errors that the SEO agency she hired should have been able to fix in no time at all. What are they doing for her besides buying guest posts I wonder?
I'm strongly against sliders for websites in general. They're used to appease business execs but aren't good for user experience or SEO. Wix has made their SEO Hero personas into a slider on SEO Hero School, similar to what they did for the villains. It's just bad.
One of Wix's latest SEO Heroes targets parents who have trouble getting their kids to sleep. They say they rank for terms such as "baby sleep sounds", "nature sleep sounds", and "sleep sounds" but I can't find them on the first page for any of these terms. He also says he reached out to bloggers to write about his product, which could spell trouble if he gave them his product free and they didn't disclose this on their website or if he paid them to review his product. He says his website rocketed to the first page of Google for his targeted terms in only 3 months, but I'm not seeing it. He says he gets about 300 impressions a day on the site, but something tells me he may not have filtered out spam referrals in Google Analytics and his numbers are extremely inflated.
It looks like this website's been around for a while. I saw a capture of a site pre-Wix from 2009 in the Wayback Machine. I'm not seeing much of anything for links until the middle of 2016 though, so this may be when he decided to do some outreach. I'm seeing hardly anything for traffic in Ahrefs or SEMrush and most of the rankings I do see are page 2+. Looks like he still has a ways to go as an SEO Hero but there's plenty of room for improvement. I was suspicious of the links and for good reason. It looks like Majestic gives the website a Trust Flow of just 2. Most of the links come from mommy bloggers which are notoriously low quality and links are usually paid for. I've actually cleaned up several penalties cause by mommy bloggers. This is actually the type of product that should have links from them, not accountants and lawyers usually, but still most of the mommy blogs can be paid for and that creates a problem. It didn't take long at all for me to find pages for advertising or guest posting on almost all of these websites. Looking at SEMrush's traffic numbers, it's possible that the website was ranked higher for some of these terms previously, but looks like they took a big hit last October probably due to Penguin and the spammy nature of the links to this website.
For the website itself, there are some issues here with HTTP and HTTPS, without being able to set a canonical tag on Wix's platform so in many instances both are indexed. The same image name issue on the Wix platform we've seen we see yet again, and most of the alt attributes aren't filled out for images either. The same 301 issue with blog tag pages we've seen is here yet again. Lots of duplicated title tags and title tags that are too long because of auto-inserted and keyword stuffed text. No pagination setup. All of these SEO issues we've seen before on Wix's platform.
Wix put a new blog up on SEO Hero School about how they are combating the negative SEO attack, see http://www.seoheroschool.com/single-post/2017/01/22/How-to-Recover-from-a-Negative-SEO-Attack. This originally had a lot of spelling and grammar errors that have been fixed. You can still see some of these in the image for instance how it says "dentify" instead of identify. While most of the advice in this post is actually solid, I think for such a small negative SEO attack that you should probably look at all of the links not just a single one per domain and shouldn't pay much attention to 3rd party metrics like Trust Flow from Majestic. I'm wondering if they're leaving stuff they shouldn't because of their methodology since it seems the blog on SEO Hero School is the ranking page once again rather than the homepage. This could indicate the homepage is still taking a hit from the negative SEO.
I was looking at some of the websites where the links are being created for SEO Hero School and trying to classify them based on type and various footprints. My best guess is simply Xrumer is the program being used. The links are a combination of guestbooks, forum profiles, and blog comments. Xrumer fits the profile and it's a small negative SEO campaign likely set up by a single user. Something tells me this will get a lot worse before the end of the SEO Hero Challenge.
In a small commerical shared on Wix's Twitter and promoting their SEO Hero contest website, Wix makes a play on words and says "Anyone can be an SEO Hero. I shih tzu not!". They go on to plug their contest entry to their massive social following. Really, anyone? Even a dog apparently. Just the problems with Wix's platform and the things they constantly say that are wrong should be enough to prove them wrong. I believe it was once thought that it took 10,000 hours to become an expert in a field. That's ~3.5 years doing it full time. I've known people to pick up many things faster and others who have done it longer who still don't know how things work. My point is that people are different and while nearly anyone can do anything, the level at which you can do that thing varies a lot. I can play tennis too, but that doesn't mean I can go beat Roger Federer. Anyway, the video is cute and I wish they would use alt attribute and not alt text, but it's just a minor complaint.
Tylor Hermanson of whichseohero.com wrote on his blog (http://sandboxseo.com/lost-seo-hero-contest/) a look back at mistakes he has made so far in the competition. It seems he is still fighting some pages that shouldn't be indexed. He seems to think he doesn't have much of a chance of winning the SEO Hero contest, but people are buzzing about his entry and I think he'll be one of the top SEO Heroes when the contest is over.
Wix is looking to hire an SEO Hero: http://www.wix.com/jobs/locations/tel-aviv/positions/2174. I personally find it amusing they said "Redact all SEO-related articles in the Wix Blogs". I called them out on a lot of things they said in Wix is Wrong on SEO. There's also more evidence they are trying to manage their reputation as they say "Manage the SEO-related conversation on blogs and social media, in order to boost the general public's perception of Wix's SEO."
It looks like Wix may have reached out to others looking for places for links. If they did ask for a link from one of the other entries, that's brazen. Did any of the SEO Heroes reading this see anything funny?
@patrickstox I think they've outreached to me too asking for a link from my entry website...— Dan Taylor (@danny_taywitter) January 23, 2017
Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller said that Google has a lot of experience dealing with links both manually and algorithmically. Is this a hint they may manually look into Wix's link practices? It wasn't just the SEO Hero contest, looking at Wix's backlink profile it seems that there are multiple violations from paid for links to widgets. If Google is so good at looking at these links, why has Wix not been hit for these SEO practices sooner? To Google's credit, the homepage of seoheroschool.com is now filtered and a few pages lower than their blog page, but we don't know if it's because of these links, the negative SEO campaign attacking their SEO Hero website, or poor disavow practices from Wix while trying to clean it up.
In a podcast this time at https://therecipeforseosuccess.com/ask-google-qa-john-mueller/ around 18:30 in John Mueller says he doesn't see Wix websites that different from any other premade website. He says it's fine for small businesses and is probably helpful since the website can't be hacked and they don't have to maintain a server since it's all run by a website provider like Wix or SquareSpace. The small businesses don't need anything fancy, they just need a place to put their content like photos of their business, phone numbers, addresses, hours of operation. He made a distinction that other platforms could be better if you want to do more for your website.
Along with making the villains an annoying slider, Wix has added another villain Apocalinks to SEO Hero School.
There were several new SEO Hero competitors. that showed up this week. Benj Arriola made a cool connections tool to show how different SEOs are connected to each other. One SEO hero tried to drop a spam link on Moz's blog. Two of the competitors look to be trying to manipulate CTR in the SERPs. Some more SEO Heroes exposed their PBNs and another asked for links at an SEO conference.
Wix has been promoting their SEO Heroes, their customers, and now the customers are promoting the fact that they were promoted. That's right, ego bait works in SEO. Wix has continued with their strategy of doing SEO tips, featuring their SEO Heroes, and writing more blogs. There's some question if they will promote their SEO Hero website during the Super Bowl as the theme of the campaign seems to indicate they will. There have been 5 links that it appears Wix bought, 4 links talking about competition but linking to their contest website. 2 of those had sidebar links advertising Wix (one removed them the same day the article went up), they all had previous articles with keyword rich anchor text advertising Wix, and many have pages for advertisement information including location. So the sites are now advertising Wix's contest website while having a history of advertising http://Wix.com. 1 makes it seem like their contest website is an actual learning program and admitted Wix reached out to him twice before posting the article.
I audited Wix's website seoheroschool.com. Be An SEO Hero was discussed at a Beer and SEO event. I ended up in New York for a few days and the trip and Wix's link buying tactics have sapped my motivation. I did run a couple tests with pagination last week with the first one being making the website a one page website again with all the weekly updates but I didn't see an impact on rankings compared to the pagination setup. I've now added more pages into the pagination to see if that has any impact.
I'm no Superman. I haven't had much motivation to write any updates and I guess this is my trial to see if I deserve to be competing. It wasn't completely New York. A lot of it was the fact that Wix was buying links in order to win the SEO Hero Challenge. They seem to have stopped this after being called out, but hasn't stopped them from leveraging resources not available to other SEO Heroes. I'm still pretty meh on the contest at this time but I'm dedicated and I will push through.
I was just thinking how great it would be to be in NYC when the judge is checking rankings and doing my updates right there in New York City. I was pretty bad about doing SEO Hero updates while in New York as I was pretty busy. I didn't get to see any of the things I've done before like Central Park, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Madame Tussauds, or even get a Coney Island hot dog. I did end up in Times Square for a short time but it was mainly traveling through. It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. There's always a lot of noise from yellow cabs honking their horns and construction, and it's just nice to be back where it's warmer and the air is fresh.
It's my last night in New York. I'll be headed back home in the morning. Sorry the updates have been slow but I've been pretty busy and it's always interesting to check out new places in NYC. I'll be back to the usual SEO Hero updates soon, and man do I have a lot to cover.