I’m trying my luck in a Dutch SEO Contest – the goal is to rank nr one on Google.nl for the query “sitedeals15 released”. I’m late – it started a month ago and runs just 3 more weeks. In despair, I ‘ll plaster my entry on top of both my index page and my RSS feed :-). Read further on some funny aspects of the game (language, tricks, search engine comparison) or skip to my Ipod Shuffle giveaway right away.
The evaluated search query runs on Google.nl, the localised Dutch version – which makes it sensible to write in Dutch and to link from Dutch-language pages (localised Google versions favour pages in the corresponding language – even your location partly determines the search results). But the second word is English (not sure whether Google recognizes the word “sitedeals” in the proper noun “sitedeals15”), which makes it sensible to write in or at least to link from English language pages (since they’re more relevant to the keyword “released” – see the explanation on “multivector pagerank” at Sitepoint).
At first sight, the top current positions seem to follow 3 different strategies:
Making sure to gather as many links to the page with the keywords “sitedeals15” and “released”: some huge link factories like startplezier and opishop perform surprisingly well. Surprisingly, because it’s contrary to Google’s own propaganda they value quality (relevance) over quantity (such as site-wide or domain-wide links at the bottom the startplezier link pages – nothing wrong with that BTW, but Google pretends to weigh this kind of links a lot less). And notwithstanding the publicity the crackdown on “black hat” techniques got (such as the BMW ban), some tricks still seem to pass under the radar, as this experiment showed.
Another surprise is that “fresh” domains, such as Bart’s .be domain (registered on the day of the contest launch), or svenbergiers.be make it to the top 10, despite the “Google Sandbox” (BTW: I’m doubting it is helpful to have a URL with the concatenated keywords sitedeals15released – using hyphens, slashes or %20 separators seems to make more sense – or am I wrong?).
Behind the scenes
If you try the same query on ask, (the forgotten AskJeeves search engine that is desperately – though with a lot of money – trying to recapture its share of the market), a lot becomes clear. The former butler is so helpful to show the referring pages instead of the referred pages (hey, what a coincidence they’re only fourth!), and shows us goodbuy.be, Multiwave.nl and vakantielokaties.nl (pointing to startplezier.nl, but from different IP addresses, so that the sites seem independent to Google), belg.be, pointing to Pebbles, winprijzen.be and winprijzen.net pointing to svenbergiers.be, tijd.net pointing to lvb, Bart obviously points to himself. The lesson: venturing on the web is like venturing in real estate: it takes patience and long work to build up a portfolio, but once done that, you can harvest the fruit of your labour for a long time to come. No high rank in SEO games if you cannot rely on plenty of “virtual real estate”.
I still believe in Google. I still believe they’re trying to optimize their algorithms in such a way that trusted sites, who patiently built their reputation, win over link gaming. That is why it is not a coincidence Luc’s entry and Bart Noppens’ blog posting shot up so quickly in the results, after their late entry in the game (Feb 27 and March 6 respectively). Both on sites with high pageranks (they didn’t make the mistake – I think – of quickly creating something new). Both have some impressive virtual real estate (blogium and Brussels Journal – you’ll have to search in the noscript tag at the latter) or Pagerank-rich friends. And if the first Bart 301’s, his blog into a subdomain, or even better a subdirectory of netlash.com, I ‘d wager he has even better location (pagerank) and backing (referring sites)! May at least one of you catch up with the Dutch link factory :-).
Watching the engines
Being the prime target of SEO, Google is protecting itself to such an extent it makes their timeliness suffer: new sites tend to show up earlier in msn search, for example. So it’ll be fun to watch how msn, yahoo and ask differ from Google. I don’t know anything of engine-specific optimization, if you have ideas and resources, please share them in the comments.
But hey, wasn’t I going to stage my own attempt to storm the SERPs? Wasn’t I going to try the impossible with almost two thirds of the race run? Of course I am!
So, if you:
- enjoyed at least one of my posts and regretted I don’t have PayPal
- want to prove that even sluggish search engines like Google cannot ignore fast-linking bloggers
- want to fight Flemish and Dutch Big Online Media with the help of the blogging masses
- sympathize with desperate causes…
You can win an Ipod Shuffle!
Indeed, if I win the contest, you can have my Ipod Shuffle… if you post on Friday March 24th at the latest (that is in 2 weeks) and on April 1st show up highest on this Technorati support list (of postings referring “sitedeals15 released”, ranked by authority). OK, I know it’s not the V7ndotcom Elursrebmem $4000, but at least it is something!
So start linking and enjoy the contest, I’ll post follow-ups as comments to this posting, you can subscribe to the comment feed!
PS1: none of the links in this posting has a rel nofollow – ain’t that generous :-) ?
PS2: if you didn’t notice “tongue-in-cheek-mode” of last paragraph, please note that none of this posting bears any moral judgement. I do not state that this or that technique is to some extent “unfair” or “wrong” – search engines have created a playing field and you have to play by the rules of the game…