As one of the French SEO Heroes put it, "it's the least worst who wins". The frustration from the filter, bubble, sandbox or whatever you want to call it that's depressing eligible SEO heroes is apparent. Excitement from competitors has come in waves throughout the contest, and while I expected the end to be frantic, it is quite the opposite. Most are quiet. There don't seem to be a lot of website changes and besides a few who are more spammy, I'm not seeing much in the way of links either. Even Wix is fairly quiet when they need to be making a strong push if they want to really prove they are the best at SEO. I think that Wix didn't get the traction they hoped for from using Rand Fishkin's name and likeness, and the same with Matt Cutts in a recent video which also guest starred John Mueller and maybe they're a bit dejected. Speaking of John Mueller, I had reached out to him a while back about why the eligible SEO Hero websites seemed to be stuck and he had this to say:
I'm pretty sure there's nothing special happening here - we tend not to spend too much time worrying about artificial search results like these (no normal user looks at them + all of the signals are weird). I don't think it's worth drawing conclusions about normal search from something like this, the effects might be weird but not representative of anything normal.
Table includes the website, current rank, country of the SEO Hero competitor, CMS, whether it uses http or https, the number of pages taken from a site: search, word count of the homepage, UR and DR metrics from Ahrefs as well as link and referring domain metrics for the homepage only.
I was asked about my countdown timer yesterday and even when I looked at it, I thought I was off by an hour for the first SEO Hero rank check. Many of the SEO heroes who setup timers show different times than I do. It turns out I actually thought ahead and planned for daylight savings time when setting it up, so looks like it's right. Yay me! It's also to the first check, not the last check. I plan on recording the results I see at the same times the judge is supposed to search, noon and 8pm from desktop, incognito, and in NYC, so I should have as close as I can get to the results of the SEO Hero judge, but with unofficial results of course.
Back in December I started an attempt to takeover the SEO Hero SERPs but it appears this won't work in time. I didn't really hit it that hard and only linked from a single website which is probably why they got indexed but didn't have the strength to actually rank. What's happening on the websites below is that they have certain folders blocked in their robots.txt files. Google can't crawl these pages and the pages do not actually exist, but since someone (me) links to them, the pages are picked up and the only information Google has about them is from the links "SEO Hero - Patrick Stox - beanseohero.com" and then of course the brands are so well known that Google appends the brand of these powerful websites to the title tag as well. Again, it didn't work, but they are indexed and maybe with more time or if I had thrown more links behind them then it would have worked out. It's probably too late now, but it was a fun experiment for me and I'll monitor to see what happens even after the SEO Hero Challenge ends.
With amazing insight, they suggest that local businesses should focus on getting reviews. Awesome! Who would have ever thought of this?
I'm not able to see Wix's newest website this morning because of the error.
It seems TJ is switching it up. This is actually the 3rd or 4th ad I've seen from him now. I also find it amusing that Wix still has "SEO Hero School" in the AdWords ad they are running.
Nothing new here we haven't seen in an audit of one of Wix's websites before. Image names are overwritten, most are missing alt attributes, multiple h1 tags, etc. This one again is on some beta version of the platform as it has hreflang tags.
It's hard to believe it's been nearly 3.5 months since Wix announced the SEO Hero Challenge. Time is moving fast and looking back, I didn't have time to do many of the things I had planned for the contest. With only 2 weeks left til the first check by the SEO Hero judge from New York and a couple more days for the final checks, I expect to see a lot of activity from at least those in striking range and interest in the competition from the general SEO community. I think it's time to start back up my analysis of the SEO Hero contest and see what's changed over the months.
I finally had a chance to make and uploaded a disavow file to both HTTP and HTTPS versions of beanseohero.com. 578 domains disavowed and only 43 remaining. I need to go through some of these 43 as well since many look spammy, but for now I went with ones that specifically do not belong to my website. What I mean for that is I have a several websites showing links to mine "via intermediate links" and from the description from DejanSEO and the fact that some of these have ranked instead of my website at various points in the competition, I think it's because they were hijacking my website. The links didn't show until after the Google Search Console infrastructure update, so Google may have brought back an old bug. Just to be clear, none of these actually linked to my website, but the fact they showed as intermediate links was troubling and I want to show the SEO Hero judge that I'm doing my best to not let these effect the contest, although they likely have no effect as it is.
Over on seo-hero.ninja, there's a new game where a little ninja extends something into the air which then falls onto platforms. The goal is to hold the button just long enough to reach the next platform but not under-shoot or over-shoot the platform as you'll start over. I wasted a few minutes with this for sure, and it's pretty hard. Nicely done Smadaleno.
Normally I see maybe a couple new websites when I run the rankings and a few positions change here or there. Today there's been a massive shift. No eligible SEO Heroes are in the top 100, but Be An SEO Hero comes in at 102nd with the next eligible website nearly 30 positions back at 131st and Wix's highest now at 195th. This might be the further suppression that some of the French SEOs saw a couple days ago. There was a massive influx of new websites ranking in the results, 35 today, that I haven't seen during the entire competition. Interestingly enough, one of them is a pre-existing domain that does seem to be targeting the competition and was most recently registered after the end of the competition signup. What's interesting to me is that this website seems to not be in the same bubble as the eligible SEO Heroes, possibly because of the pre-existing domain. I'm kind of hoping the rankings stay like this as it gives me a fairly comfortable lead with a little more than 2 weeks until the SEO Hero Challenge judge makes the first search from New York.
First up is a beer guy whose name is also Patrick at http://www.real-seohero.com/the-beer-junction. He believes he is "SEO-ed to the hilt!" so let's check him on that. He's a store manager and self-proclaimed IT guru, so I know this won't end well for his review. He believes he's at the top for terms like keg prices (he's really 6th for me) and how much does a key cost (he is first organically for this, but still below a featured snippet and a people also ask box).
It looks like he does indeed have a good amount of organic search traffic and has built it up over many years (Wix said he built the site in 2013, but I see pages in the internet archive since 2010). It looks like traffic was good in 2013 and killed by a redesign in late 2013 or early 2014 when they switched to Wix and it didn't start to recover and climb until 2015. Traffic at some points after the redesign was 1/60th of what it peaked at before the switch to Wix. They had a nice growth of quality links over time from lots of local publications, beer related websites, and even many of the breweries.
As for on-page optimization, I'm shocked to find they are not "SEO-ed to the hilt". Like all the others on Wix, the website images have been rewritten so their names are nonsensical and many of the alt attributes are blank or generic in their naming. It appears many of the pages have duplicate title tags from either lightbox images or monthly new arrival pages and quite a few end up being too long because of some default text put in before the information for the page appears. Meta keywords are pretty stuffed. It doesn't appear the website uses h1 tags and the h2s are used for slogans and social. I'm going to say this is another one successful because they are a good company who is good at promotion, and certainly not because their "SEO-ed to the hilt!"
A full service garden and interior plant design studio in NYC, Wix's next SEO Hero is here: http://www.real-seohero.com/red-fern-brooklyn. She says she worked on her SEO and then her website appeared at the top of the results. She says she ranks on page 1 for things like garden design brooklyn which I do see her second in the organic results for but not in the map pack at all. This is also a very specific term with almost no search volume. Other terms she says she's on page 1 for but isn't, which may indicate personalized results, include garden landscaping and landscape design. The reality is that SEMrush estimates her traffic at only 42 clicks a month, and about 80% of that is estimated to be from people searching for the plant which shares the same name as her business. Even with that, the total estimated traffic cost is a mere $27 a month which probably wouldn't be enough money to rent a space to put even a single plant in NYC. Ahrefs doesn't paint any better of a picture showing only 10 referring domains and organic traffic of only 8 clicks / month.
None of the issues on the website itself are surprising. Image names being rewritten and many alt attributes missing or keyword stuffed. Lightbox images creating pages and causing duplicate titles. Many title tags too long because of generic text entered that repeats and is keyword stuffed. Many h1 tags are also missing. The website itself doesn't seem to be on the normal Wix platform as it's using https, so this must be one of the beta platforms.
For instance one of the top competitor is building a lot of profile links. These aren't random forum websites either but respectable websites and a many are channels that a company might take advantage of. Instead of moving up in the SERPs though, these seem to be moving this particular SEO Hero down in rankings. I can't imagine Google would see many of these as bad links, but maybe he overdid it a bit.
I've been seeing this on social more and more, where Wix is actually promoting competitors in the SEO Hero contest that use Wix's platform. More than that though, they're actually linking to these from Wix.com's blog now. If you remember back in December, I was upset that Wix linked to their competition website from their blog as I found this was a pretty heavy abuse of a really powerful domain. The blog http://www.wix.com/blog/2016/12/revealing-wixs-very-own-seo-hero/ has been updated and now includes links to 3 other SEO Hero competitors who are using Wix's platform. The highest of these are in 8th and 14th in the competition rankings. This was just updated earlier in the week and it looks like the day before the blog was posted they were 12th and 16th. It's probably too early to have seen the full effect, but it looks like Wix has directly boosted SEO Hero contestants using their platform. That's a very biased thing to do for a company running a competition.
Out of the 3 competition websites Wix has had, it's now the newest one real-seoheroes.com that ranks the highest. Unfortunately for them with a little more than 2 weeks left until the SEO Hero judge checks rankings for the first time, this website is only in 44th place in the SEO Hero Challenge. I'm not sure they can move the needle enough in this short of a time frame to be a top competitor in their own contest that was supposed to prove Wix was the best at SEO.
As I mentioned above, it's now Wix's Real SEO Heroes website where they talk about customers using their platform to rank that is now the highest in the competition. It's good ego bait and we've seen several of these companies promote Wix's blog about them on their social networks. One of the latest ones has been really active in doing so, and have promoted the blog about them multiple times like below.
There's a lot of talk in the French community that the SEO Hero websites seem to be moving out of the bubble that's depressing rankings for Google.fr. I'm not seeing this yet but looking forward to some last minute changes. Honestly it'd be sad to finish the contest and barely be in the top 100 search results.
Others are saying that the SEO Hero websites seem to be moving further down in rankings. I'm not seeing this yet either.
Even though Wix has the domain seoheroschool.com returning a 404 instead of redirecting to one of their new SEO Hero websites, they haven't updated all the links to it. I'm still surprised this redirect was removed if it was done so intentionally, but it may have been a mistake that they overlooked as well.
I don't know if that's just giving up or they can't think of anything to write, but seriously their favorite memes? Must have been the idea of a content strategist. I expect to see more list and buzzfeed style articles coming soon.
It seems as though Wix has acquired Deviantart for $36 million dollars. It wasn't that long ago they ran Super Bowl ads and also acquired a CRM company. Wix is making big moves but I'm a little sad they're spending all this money when a tiny fraction of it could be used to resolve the biggest SEO issues with their platform.
It's been a rough week for me with moving and a conference presentation and I haven't had much time to focus on the SEO Hero contest. I hope everyone released their Google Analytics and Google Search Console last week to the Wix SEO Hero Challenge judge, because that was your last chance. Be An SEO Heroes search result was hijacked and Google ranked another website besides mine with my content and everything in my position. The website eventually posted a message apologizing and saying it was a mistake and now I'm back to showing in the SERPs again.
Wix has been posting more SEO tips, more SEO heroes, and more blogs. There was another link that appears to be paid for by Wix. They did change up the strategy and post a funny video involving Rand Fishkin, the SEO Heroes, and Matt Cutts, with special guest John Mueller. They broke or removed the redirect from seoheroschool.com and this has left them really far back in the competition. They'll have to have a major strategy shift or publicity stunt if they want to win at this point.
I was in Florida yesterday presenting on the technical aspects of content. It was a lot of fun and a great conference. I'm honored and thankful that Pubcon allowed me to speak.
It looks like Be An SEO Hero is back in the SERPs after seoremake.com fixed their mistake. There have been some drops from some of the SEO Hero competitors like seohero.io who was one of the top sites and penrodshero.com also took a massive dive. Wix's Gifted SEO Hero website is also pretty far back, coming in about 40th of the eligible websites. They have a long way to go in a short amount of time if they want to prove they are the best. My feeds were interesting to go through as I saw everything from pure spam like blog comments on .edu websites and even links from porn websites. One German competitor seems to be releasing a ton of press releases every day. The French Team is getting major support from other French SEOs. With less than 3 weeks to go in the competition, this is the time to make a move.