SEO Challenge ’09 – Week 1 Update

First of all, a big thanks to the 60 or so bloggers who approached me with their intention to participate in the SEO Challenge ’09. I am glad I could approve more than 50% (32 to be exact) of them after scrutinizing. Believe me, it was a real tedious manual process. Unfortunately, I could not approve the rest due to one of the following reasons:
DollarShower SEO Challenge 09 - Week 1 Update

  • Google Analytics tracking was not available on their blogs as of Dec 01st
  • GA ‘View Only’ access was not shared on time
  • Made-for-AdSense blogs with very little content
  • Blog was not being updated for a couple of months or so
  • Rated content, drug or banned content blogs

Week 1 Report

As mentioned in the rules, Week 1 report goes out on 12th and this report takes into account a value that is the average number of daily non-paid search visits for the last six weeks (Dec 01, 2008 – Jan 11, 2009). And our base value was the average daily search visits for December 2008. The percentage difference between these values is your gain (Check out our scoreboard for the updated values)

The following are the leading blogs for Week 1: (71.00%) (33.87%) (28.93%) (28.81%) (14.13%)

The base value (Init Visits in the scoreboard) of those blogs with daily search visits for December 2008 less than 5 was supposed to be kept at 5 as per our first post. However, Daniel & I decided that it will be kept at 10 to give a fair chance to everyone and at the same time to curb explosive figures that relatively new blogs might be able to achieve. 10 is because it’s around the 25th percentile of all initial visits figures of the 32 participants. This formula will be maintained through out the competition.

SEO Strategies

Next week onwards, I shall request the participants to send around their strategies to encourage discussions around clean or white hat SEO methodologies. In the mean time please share your opinions and concerns here.

Dollar$hower SEO Challenge ’09 Sponsors

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  1. I kind of agree with Samrat here. Grouping blogs based on the search visits seems to be the best way. Else, older blogs with more traffic will find it tough to compete here.

    Raju’s last blog post… Why VPS Hosting Rocks?

  2. Firstly, I congratulate you on organizing this contest. This is not an easy one to organize.
    It needs lot of manual effort.

    As for at the contest rules goes, I agree with TechnoSamrat’s view below.

    “We need to take into account the increase in number of hits, domain age and also the % number of increase in hits. we can add all the three factors to the score card..”

    We already have the no. of hits and % no.of increase in hits with Google Analytics. The only thing we need is the domain age. We can get this from any PR sites.
    What do you say Ajith?

    @Nihar, Thanks for the congrats! 🙂

    Read 2 Know’s last blog post… Microsoft issues Emergency Fix for Browser Flaw

  3. I’m sorry but the idea of changing the competition rules after it starts just does not work for me! It”..who increase their search visits by the maximum percentage will get the first and second prizes. ” It did not take a rocket scientist to see the contest is biased toward those with lower search numbers! Participants have to apply based on understanding the rules or asking questions before they ‘waste their time’. I entered the last Blogging Idol contest with a new blog knowing the chances of increasing raw reader number were slim when compared to those with hundreds of readers already — it was not a percentage increase. I admit I thought it would be since the rule was a bit vague, but cleared up later.

    I find this discussion a bit frustrating and unnecessary distraction in any contest. Now, for what to do. One option is to stop the contest, set the rules and reopen. If not, my suggestion is as follows:
    First a base of 10 is still very hard for low count blogs to achieve (500%?) when compared to larger blogs that have high SEO rankings already. So why handicap the smaller ones even more? They have to take monumental steps to go that distance in such a short time frame… Okay, if you want to change the rules, then divide the field into two or three groups based on current search starting point. Then award a top prize to each sector and maybe one overall — like Olympic trials leading up to the big one. Let’s settle this and stop messing around. Competitors need to know what they are up against to plan their efforts.

    SBA’s last blog post… Google’s New Favicon

  4. Folks, as I stressed before what is ‘possible’ is to purify the percentage formula in a way that make sense to most people. I am convinced that % increase method make sense unlike absolute values and other parameters. I am not going to add more complications into the formula like domain age, PR, grouping and so on.

    So we have to decide the base for calculating the % increase ASAP. If that cannot be arrived at in the next two-three days, it will stay the way it is now.

    In the future I will stay away from conducting such competitions as most people just want lottery based dumb contests. I had a chance to improve my RSS count to 500 or so if I had offered all these prizes in contests. But I thought we had a great chance to learn SEO from each other via this competition and improve search traffic. The amount of criticism I am facing because of the need to share Google Analytics a/c is even more 🙁

    I shall send a survey email tonight to all participants to choose a base value. And we will stick to the majority’s opinion

  5. Ajith,

    My 2 cents of thought. What you choose is fine with me. I am really here to participate and encourage you more than anything. Winning is good, but not everything… Its not really the end of the world as some seem to think. Whatever happened to the spirit of participation? Blogs used to be a place where you put your points/views/thoughts across. Now they have become a means to making money, that’s all. Very sad to say and see!

  6. @Ajith – Don’t let this discussion taint the original purpose — it was and still is to learn and share SEO! I don’t like random contests, but one like this involves brain power and contribution. I was recently burned by a contest that I put a lot of effort into and would have won, had the blog owner not blatantly add new rules after the contest closed. So, I am not criticizing the contest goal at all nor your admirable decision to conduct this type of competition. Most of us see them as an incentive to aim a bit higher and have our efforts recognized. So don’t be discouraged. We need some contest ‘heroes’.

    Let the survey begin.

    SBA’s last blog post… The Blogger’s Block

  7. I think I am losing. I have joined the wrong blog. HAHAHA.

  8. @Rajiv, SBA… thanks for your support and understanding

    @Hussein, Not really, we are trying to fix the problem so that nobody can easily get away with it 😆

  9. Results of Voting

    Thanks for your votes. 24 out of 32 replied to my survey mail. See the results below: – 10 – 5 – 5
    Ardi.Web.Id – 5 – 10 – Nothing selected – 10 – 10 – 10 – 40 – 10 – Any value is fine – 20 – 10 – 10 – 10 – 10 – 10 – 10 – 40 – 10 – 10 – 15 – 10

    10 – 15 votes
    5 – 3 votes
    40 – 2 vote
    20 – 1 vote
    15 – 1 vote
    None selected – 1 vote
    Any value is fine – 1 vote

    We are going with the majority. i.e. 10. Thank you all for your coopearation. We still have more than four weeks to go and hence everybody (small, large, old, new…) has a chance to improve search visits.

    Good luck!

  10. By the way, I just realized that it’s very easy for small traffic bloggers to game the system. It no way means that I doubt anyone’s strategy here.

    But I would like to share it: Any blogger with weekly traffic of let’s say 10 needs to achieve 10 more to get 100% gain.

    I must be knowing the terms for those 10 existing searches. If I search for those exact terms during the week, and visit my own blog – it would be anyways counted as a search visit. Sounds very simple to me for small blogs.

    Of course even good traffic blogs (like 100+) can also do the same, but they would not be able to achieve anything like that very easily unless they have all time in hand to just to do it all day.

  11. Wow, that is a very easy way to game the system. I hadn’t thought of it, and I’m sure that others hadn’t either… Way to let the cat out of the bag. lol. Hopefully no one resorts to this technique.

    Shirley’s last blog post… ALT vs. TITLE Attributes For Images in HTML

  12. A couple of ‘suspicious’ activities has already been noted 🙂 I will take a close look at the top 5 spots throughout the event… Of course, not everything can be tracked down completely…

  13. @Abhijeet – I know the prizes are very nice, but anyone stooping to that level is in serious need of counseling! I assumed all owners have taken themselves out of the Analytics counts??? In that case would this still be possible to ‘game’ in that way? I know my regular visits are NOT counted, but not sure about searches. Can someone answer that question?

    SBA’s last blog post… It’s All About Working The Net

  14. @SBA, The SEO thing would not count those visits anyways as you rightly mentioned. But I did not get when you say “Not sure about searches” – do you search and land up on your own blogs??

    Abhijeet’s last blog post… 2008 Earning Report: Achieved Goal of More than $25000

  15. @Abhijeet – My regular Google searches have nothing to do with my blog’s tags — have to take a break sometime! But I was fixing some ‘page not found’ errors and did a “site:” search to see where the errant url was — I then pressed the link in the search results to see if the redirection worked.. Not sure if that counts. If so it was innocent (LOL). Anyway, we are learning from this exercise…

    SBA’s last blog post… It’s All About Working The Net

  16. The whole system is very confusing. But one thing is clear.

    All you got to do is maximize your search engine traffic and you will be in the competition. This week I am lagging behind.. So a lot of work need to be done.

    Congrats to the Top 5..

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