I'm blown away by the amazing response to my tweet asking for help. To my friends, acquaintances, and even random strangers, thank you! Even some of the SEO Heroes still within striking distance to win the contest are offering their support and I'm truly thankful for the kindness they have shown. Thank you so much for your support!
We've already seen Wix's willingness to purchase links for their SEO Hero websites. In fact, I maintain a running list of these and now I have a few more to add.
https://www.frogx3.com/2017/03/06/seo-hero-concurso-seo-ofrece-50000-dolares-premio/ Advertises both of Wix's contest entries in one! There's also a page for advertising your brand and all their demographic and stat data for the website.
http://www.noobpreneur.com/2017/03/06/exclusive-qa-with-wix-seo-team-lead-alissa-ludanskaa-on-their-seo-hero-competition/ An interview with the head of SEO at Wix, Alissa Ludanskaa. Yep, there's a page for advertising. Yep, there are previous articles that look like advertisements for Wix.
http://socialbarrel.com/who-will-be-the-real-seo-hero-of-wix/109767/ Sidebar link to WixStores, advertise with us, several previous articles promoting Wix with keyword rich anchor text. The same old story.
http://www.pixelbox.ru/blog/interesting/1343.html Another one talking about the contest and linking to Wix's SEO Hero contest website. Again there are previous articles on this website promoting Wix.com. Anyone seeing a pattern with these?
http://www.n4gash.com/2017/seo-hero-concurso-optimizacion-buscadores/ this one talks about the contest and says you still have a chance to enter before linking to giftedseohero.com, but you can't enter anymore. Again, there are other articles promoting Wix.com on this website.
See the running list below and keep in mind all of the ones above were in the last day, in what looks to be a final push in the SEO Hero contest. I really think Google needs to look into Wix's linkbuilding practices...
Two weeks ago we saw Wix update the blog on Wix.com announcing their SEO Hero to include links to some of the SEO heroes using Wix's platform. Last week we saw Wix appear to buy a couple links on different websites that already had Wix advertising on them, except they linked to the SEO Heroes on Wix's platform in the articles rather than Wix's contest websites. I was suspicious at the time but now more of these are showing up, and it does appear Wix is buying links for those in the contest on Wix's platform. Showing favoritism is about the worst thing the contest host could do. Check out http://www.designer-daily.com/do-you-have-what-it-takes-to-become-a-seo-hero-59866 which is promoting the 3 different SEO Hero websites on Wix's platform. There's a sidebar link for Wix on the site showing an established relationship, also a page for advertising, and previous posts promoting Wix with keyword rich anchor text.
One of the contestants sent out a press release that goes out to a bunch of news and radio stations. I've come up against this with some local clients in the past and saw some meteoric rises in the SERPs, so I'm following this one as I'm interested in seeing the impact post Penguin, because this definitely seemed to work too well before.
It's nice when a spammer provides a list of their spam in a Google Sheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1kcBa5WWHS07o7UusAVDre8Ct18wFcoQNwFHMZPi9kb0/edit#gid=0
I've had many people tell me they come to my website every day and that I'm the only website they read to keep up with the contest. I'm honored, flattered, and humbled by your support and want to thank you all.
One week from today, the SEO Hero Challenge judge will search from New York on a Desktop, Chrome browser, and Incognito mode at 12pm and again at 8pm Eastern to record the rankings for the first of 3 days of checks. These rankings will be averaged over the time period to determine the winner of this contest.
After falling to around 40th place of the eligible websites, Wix is now back in the top 10. I checked seoheroschool.com thinking they finally redirected that domain, but that's not what happened. First, Wix has added exact match anchor text to all SEO related blogs on Wix.com such as http://www.wix.com/blog/2016/06/how-boost-your-seo-with-the-perfect-url/ with a message "Become an SEO Hero today! Check out some motivating success stories straight from Wix users." which of course uses the exact match anchor text "SEO Hero" to link to one of their contest websites. This still leaves a bad taste in my mouth for them to use their domain that is so powerful to generate links to their contest website when they are the ones running the contest, but they've told me before that this is okay.
It seems some of the links that look paid have also updated their links to go to giftedseohero.com instead of seoheroschool.com. They didn't even bother to update the references to SEO Hero School and in fact they still use it for anchor text on some of the websites. Most of the ones below previously linked to seoheroschool.com, but check them out now. I'm really disappointed with Wix buying links to try to win a contest they're hosting. It really makes me sick.
They seem to just copy the pages / information when creating new ones. When I checked this morning for instance there was a new SEO Hero with a description on the homepage from one of the previous ones and when I clicked through, the URL was from yet another previous SEO Hero of theirs. This doesn't seem like a great workstream and we've shown before that these copied pages get indexed.
They tell you not to use the same text on more than one page. It will somehow confuse search engines. This shows a lack of basic understanding of duplicate content, how Google handles it, and the tools you have to control canonicalization. Please read The myth of the duplicate content penalty to get a better understanding.
I've been 1st in the SEO Hero Challenge pretty much since it started. It was weird watching one website escape the suppression that all the others have seen and jump ahead of me a few days ago, but now one of the ones still being suppressed has passed me as well in the rankings I pulled today. The websites both from French contestants have had a lot of support and many of the websites link to the French contestants and also other websites linking to them. It will be interesting to see how the judge rules on this one as it could be classified as a link exchange or link scheme. I can't focus on what they're doing only what I can do and I need help to win. If you're willing to show your support please send me a message at [email protected] or on Twitter or share the tweet below. Thank you!
After sending the screenshots to the SEO Hero judge showing I indeed added him as an owner and the date he was added, I received a response and it looks like I'm good to go. I'm not sure what the issue was but I had shared access to Search Console before the deadline.
It's been a while since I looked at this website and I realized there are several more SEO heroes posted here now. I'm going to go through a few of them today to try and catch up.
First up is an SEO Hero fighting against discrimination of piercing and tattoos in the workplace. The man behind this does all the SEO work himself but credits Wix for his success in organic search. It looks like he does pretty well in the search results for phrases related to his cause. The article on Wix's Real SEO Hero website talks about some of the basics of SEO, mentions a few things that are wrong, but the thing that got me was talking about targeting different keywords on different pages as a next level and secret SEO strategy. LOL! Either he or they have no idea how cannibalization works either.
There's nothing surprising on the website as far as issues. Some redirected items, some duplicate titles related to blogs which have no pagination setup, some titles too long because of boilerplate text, lightbox images creating pages, stuffed meta keywords, missing and multiple h1 issues, image names overwritten, image attributes missing and many are keyword stuffed.
The next website promotes recycling. They say that SEO has helped them share their mission with millions of Americans, but for that to be true at their current traffic levels they would have had to have been around since before the US was founded! More than likely, it's the celebrities involved with this cause who have helped them reach a wider audience or maybe the major covereage in publications like the NY Times. The website has been around for a while and Wix seems to credit much of her success to switching to their platform in 2016, but when I look at third party tools the switch to Wix is obvious and not in a good way. She went from a traffic high of 10,934 before the switch to a low of 469 a month after after the switch to Wix. Traffic is only about half the previous levels from before the move! There are some grammatical mistakes in this article that bother me like they use "choose" where it should have been "chose" and at one point they switch the company name accidentally and it sounds like it's anti-recycling as they call it "Recycle Against America".
The website itself lost me immediately with the auto-playing music. It's technically a bit of a mess as well with some broken pages and lots of redirected pages that are happening for several different reasons including old html links never cleaned up and blog tags. There are a ton of duplicate title tags caused by several issues from blog tags, categories, and lightboxes, and many of the titles are too long because of the standardized title appended to the pages. h1s are missing and have multiple in many cases. Image names are overwritten and alt attributes are mostly missing or generic. I'm sad to see that the move to Wix has done so much harm to such a great cause.
The next SEO Hero builds portable buildings. I about screamed at the auto-play video on this website. Wix says they built a website in 2014, but it looks like it was 2013 when they were first online. They say they've grown 500% in the past 2 years and most of their leads come from the internet. Who would have thought being online in this day and age would be good for a business eh?
Like most of Wix's SEO Heroes, he does the work himself so let's see how he did. I see a 403 forbidden to his blog, so this isn't getting crawled. It looks like he just made directory pages for each state. Pretty much everything on this website is simply repeated. Titles swap out the state, but meta description and meta keywords all the same. There's no h1s used except for the contact page. Image names are overwritten and alt attributes are mostly blank or generic IMG_#### names. There's very few links to this website and those that are there mainly appear to be sponsored or paid links or links from partners, so this is probably a good company that cares about the communities in which it operates, but sadly it looks like this isn't a very competitive niche and it'd be easy for someone who knows what they are doing to overtake this company.
Just because you can use a fancy font, doesn't mean you should. I can barely read the website of Wix's next SEO hero who runs a shop selling magic wands. I'm not sure where Wix gets their dates as they say this one was created 2 years ago but I see about 7 years of history. This is a very unique niche that has exploded and it looks like the owner is passionate and has been able to capitalize that to be successful. Wix says he ranks on the first page for high value terms like magic wands, but I see him in the middle of the second page here. Ahrefs shows only 18 links to this page total, making it a highly uncompetitive niche for this website to be ranking so well. The website has some issues with titles being too long, multiple h1 tags, images being renamed, and image alt attributes are mostly not filled out.
The latest Wix SEO Hero lets you drink with your pets as he makes wine for dogs and cats. The website isn't very old but it is indeed popular. It doesn't hurt that when starting the website he already had major news outlets mentioning his company and giving him links. I can't help but think he's missed the intent of the searches though as someone searching for "wine for cats" probably is looking to see if it's okay if a cat has wine and not looking for actual wine for cats, but he seems to have capitalized on this interest nonetheless. He definitely made something interesting and has done well because of it. The website has 872 referring domains according to Ahrefs, many of which are major news websites. This website is a bit of a mess. There are broken and redirected pages, lots of duplicate title tags because of tag pages, lots of really long title tags because of defaults they set, lots of missing h1s and irrelevant h2s, images have been renamed to nonsensical names, and image alt attributes are almost all missing. It's sad that with a few tweaks he could better capitalize on the value from all of those links.
A couple favorite tactics of some of the SEO Heroes throughout the competition, press releases, profile links, and videos are being kicked into high gear. It's taking me a lot longer than normal to go through things and I had to add some additional filters. I can't believe many SEOs are still building links this way.
I'm working on doing some cleanup today and planning for the end of the SEO Hero Challenge.
Did anyone else get this? I'm copying the message below. I checked and I do have the judge added and have sent the screenshot requested showing his email as an owner and another from the owners page showing he was added 17 days ago on 2/14/17 and within the time frame required. I wonder if this is because they were looking for the http version of the website and I switched to https early on in the contest? I have the judge set as owner, so there is no higher access I can give him.
We are in the process of examining the compliance of the contest's participants with the contest rules, including the requirement to register the contest moderator as an admin in the accounts of Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
Our records show that you did not register the moderator as and admin in the Google Search Console account associated with your SEO Hero website, however we estimate this may be attributed to technical issues. In order to clarify the matter please send us a "print screen" copy of your copy of your the shared users , which demonstrates you have added [email protected] as an admin, as required under the rules.
please send us such copy within 3 business days by replying to this email, or otherwise you shall be disqualified from the contest.
CEO of MRKT360 INC
Someone made data visualizations of different SEO Hero websites at http://sem-eye.com/news/seo-hero-dataviz.html. These are pretty cool. It looks like CMAP and network graph visualizations mainly but I think I may have seen a force directed diagram in there as well. I enjoy making these kinds of visualizations when I have a chance as they're powerful visuals that can help explain things about website architecture better and how PageRank flows through a website, or even identifying problems such as broken links or spider traps in a visual way. I usually use Gephi for network graph visualizations and actually have a post that's been in the queue for a while on Search Engine Land that uses Gephi for calculating and visualizing PageRank and topical clusters of pages.
TJ over at penrodshero.com posted about some SEO hero competitors revealing their hands early and is wondering if the winner of the SEO Hero Challenge will be determined by a trick. We've seen some hijacking of search results (not the actual website) including my website recently. There also appears to be some spam going after some of the SEO Hero websites in what is likely an attempt at negative SEO. I said before that this contest will be impossible to judge. Between the link spam, the hijacking that's likely to occur, the number of things competitors could and maybe have done to get themselves out of the suppression, it's going to be a messy end.
Congratulations to Walid for being the first out of whatever was suppressing the rankings of SEO Hero websites! His website has been 3rd or 4th in the competition for quite a while now and had hit as high as second at one point, but now being the only one out of the bubble he's first today. This is the first day I can remember besides when my ranking got hijacked by another website that I wasn't in the lead of the SEO Hero contest. I'm not sure how Walid escaped, but I'll be looking into it and see if I can figure out what I need to do as well but likely it's going to depend on Google.
Yesterday I wrote about a couple links that it looked like Wix had paid for that link to one of the other SEO Heroes on their platform in what appears to be an attempt to help this competitor win in a very biased move from the SEO Hero contest host. Wix had linked from Wix.com's blog to this SEO hero just last week. Now, a 3rd link has appeared at http://thehightechsociety.com/seo-hero-contest-wix/ that again looks paid for by Wix. The article itself is very similar to some of the ones Wix seemingly bought for their own SEO Hero websites in the way that it talks about the contest. It's almost the exact same article written differently, but with a twist that they call wix-seo-expert.com a real standout and start describing what that website offers rather than what Wix's entries offer. Other telltale signs include a page for advertising or getting your product reviewed and even a guest blog option. Looking into it, again it appears Wix has a pre-existing relationship with this website. There are several other articles on the website including a Wix review, one talking about how SEO is so easy with Wix, setting up your blog which recommends Wix, and choosing the best free website builder which they say is Wix. They use keyword rich anchor text in the links like "free website builder", "Wix SEO", "website builder", "Wix SEO review", etc. I'm really disgusted by Wix's actions as the SEO Hero Challenge host.
On Gifted SEO Hero, Wix has some words for SEO Heroes. They say the SEO Hero contest was about setting the record straight and they just want the world to know about Wix's incredible SEO capabilities. It looks like they have added HTTPS now but if you've been following the audits I've done on Wix websites or on my evaluation of Wix for SEO you'll notice I still see a lot of problems if you want to take SEO seriously. I think they need to take another pass at this blog to clean it up as well. There are some issues like bullets within bullets for the first in the series and "hoose" instead of what should likely be "Choose", and random text changes like in the middle of the list a different font color is used. All of these are taken from one small bulleted list example within the post. They switch font color several times throughout this blog making it difficult to skim. There's also some strange verb tense issues here and more. It pains me to read this post.
I'll hold my judgement until more than 2 show up, but as of now it certainly looks like Wix is indeed buying links for other SEO Heroes in the contest who use their platform. Check out http://www.iblogzone.com/ and http://www.pcdrome.com/. Also be sure to check out the disclosures which includes phrases like "This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation." Both seem to have a pre-existing relationship with Wix and advertise their website with keyword rich anchor text including "Start a blog with Wix.com" and "Free Website", and with Wix's history of buying links both in and out of the SEO Hero contest, when I saw the exact match anchor text "SEO Hero" on these websites I was expecting them to go to one of Wix's websites. Instead they go to http://www.wix-seo-expert.com/ which is one of the highest competitors in the SEO Hero contest using Wix's platform. It also happens to be one of the websites linked to (the top one) on Wix.com when Wix decided to update their blog (http://www.wix.com/blog/2016/12/revealing-wixs-very-own-seo-hero/) to include links to several SEO Heroes using Wix's platform. The whole thing is shady.
People still seem demoralized in the SEO Hero Challenge with the rankings being depressed. With less than 2 weeks to go, it doesn't look like anyone will get out of the filter / bubble / sandbox before the end of the contest. One SEO Hero posted a ninja inspired game that goes along with his brand that you can play while checking your rankings on different Google datacenters. One of the SEO Heroes is hitting profile links hard, but it seems to be moving him in the wrong direction. We've seen some pretty wild shifts in rankings this week with websites ranking both higher and far lower than before. There's also been more AdWords ads from contestants this week.
Wix has been busy both in and out of the contest. They bought Deviantart for one in what I'm sure will be a great move for the company. The Real SEO Hero website is now Wix's highest ranked in the competition. I'm not surprised by this since they're posting ridiculous things on Gifted SEO Hero like their favorite memes. Also of interest is that Wix updated the blog announcing their SEO Hero entry to include links to some SEO Heroes in the contest that use Wix's platform. This isn't the right thing to do when running a contest as it's not being fair and impartial and I don't agree with it at all.
Be An SEO Hero was at Pubcon SFIMA speaking. I took a technical look at content and had a lot of fun there. I posted some info on the top 10 competitors taking a bit of a deeper dive into content and link metrics. I also uploaded a disavow file containing a bunch of domains that don't even actually link to me, but their links show in my GSC because of hijacking attempts it seems. All the links show as "via intermediate link" hijackingdomain.com, but again these link to that domain, not actually my website. I did some audits on Wix's Real SEO Heroes website and a couple of their heroes and wrote about a publicity stunt I tried that wasn't meant to be.