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SEO contest

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SEO contest

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, by MultiMedia

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In SEO (search engine optimization) contests, webmasters compete to rank best on Google for a given (usually nonsense) keyword or keyword combination. They have become an often important method for webmasters to promote their web sites and gain web traffic. While the contestants compete for prizes, fame or glory, the organising body often benefits as well.


The nigritude ultramarine competition by SearchGuild is widely acclaimed as the mother of all SEO contests. It was started on May 7, 2004 and was won two months later by Anil Dash.

On September 1 of the same year, webmasters were challenged to rank #1 on Google in three months time for the search phrase seraphim proudleduck.

In the first quarter of 2005, people were competing for the term loquine glupe, spawning web sites ranging from shampoo advertising to holiday resorts. The page that won in the end looked rather boring, and used lots of questionable techniques like "keyword stuffing".

Internationally, in 2005 two major contests took place in Europe. In Germany the Hommingberger Gepardenforelle by the computer magazine c't spawned almost 4 million results. The goal was to find out how search engines rank sites. In Poland almost at same time the Polish SEO community organized the msnbetter thangoogle contest. It topped the 4 million but failed to reach it's goal to promote SEO in Poland and to get search engines companies attention for the polish market. Currently at least one contest is taking place in France.

A competition ran from January 1, 2006 to March 1, 2006 and carried the term redscowl bluesingsky, another set of made-up words. It was sponsored by SEOLogs. Shoemoney won this contest, and since he donated the winner's money, he donated it to the number 2 winner.

A contest that had been announced earlier - but only started on January 15, 2006 - is the one by V7N SEO forum administrator John Scott and another search engine optimizer, WebGuerrilla. In this particular contest, both competitions use the same search phrase v7ndotcom elursrebmem, but each has its own set of special rules.

The basics

All these contests appear to be based on a number of common factors:

  • In simple words, a SEO contest invites webmasters to trick the search engines. Some webmasters resort to spam, while others use white-hat optimization techniques (like providing good content covering the competition, or optimizing page titles).
  • While there are many search engines around, they all seem to focus on Google in particular. Google is known to be a difficult search engine to rank well on, especially for new web sites.
  • Most SEO contests expect people to optimize a single web page for a non-existent phrase of two silly words. The main reason for this is to keep existing web sites from getting a head start. But at the same time it makes sure that regular internet searchers won't be bombarded with "spammy" results when searching the web for "regular" information.
  • Blogs seem to do well at these challenges, indicating in a way that pages with valuable content are preferred by search engines over regular websites, especially when it comes to newsworthy and fresh information of a temporary nature.

The differences

Certain special rules and limitations are invented to set contest apart from the rest. Often, these limitations will make it harder to benefit from the ranking algorithm - including quirks - of the targeted search engine. For example, the January 2006 Redscowl Bluesingsky contest issued by SEOLogs is open for new domains only. That means that the contestants cannot benefit from the ranking advantage old web sites are thought to have over new ones. An example of that is the age advantage Anil Dash' blog page had over the well-received but brand new Nigritude Ultramarine FAQ - respectively ended 1st and 6th in the Nigritude Ultramarine challenge. Most likely, the Redscowl Bluesingsky game will be won by a domain of the style redscowl-bluesingsky.com which is bound to attract natural links, and benefit from the fact that the URL is made up entirely of the search words.

Another special rule that fits well with the 'purpose' of SEO contests today is the obligation to 'link back' to the organizing body - often a search engine optimization blog or forum. Since a web document's ranking on major search engines like Yahoo!, Google or MSN Search is mainly determined by internet hyperlinks pointing to that document, forcing webmasters to link to a web site is quite a powerful way to increase its web presence... Good example are the contest announced by V7N and its counterpart by WebGuerrilla. While the first of these originally required the contestants to link to V7N forums, the second forbids its players to do just that. Instead a special link to Google engineer Matt Cutts' blog is imperative. Because of this rivalry, both the rules and prize money on both these SEO contests were updated regularly up until the official start date of January 15, 2006.

Notable Contests

Several contests have generated significant media attention online.

Nigritude ultramarine

  • Dates: May 7, 2004 - July 7, 2004
  • Keyword: Nigritude ultramarine
  • Prize: iPod, Flat Panel LCD Screen & various bonus prizes
  • Sponsor: Dark Blue

Two prizes were awarded for the top position in a Google search: one for the top position on 9am GMT on June 7, 2004, and a second prize awarded at the close of the contest on 9am GMT July 7, 2004.

There were about two hundred competitors, who deployed an astonishing variety of dirty tricks, from Google bombing upwards. The competitive conditions encouraged intensive, free use of techniques that would have otherwise been used in a more conservative manner, and it is entirely possible that some normally-legitimate SEOs took a dirty approach for the occasion. Weblogs and wikis were hit by the contest, and needed to be constantly policed to prevent "nigritude ultramarine" spam from lowering their signal-to-noise ratio below acceptable limits. Public wiki sandboxes were especially vulnerable.

On July 7, Six Apart Vice President and weblogger Anil Dash was announced as the contest winner. Dash stated that his goal in entering the contest was to "prove that real content trumps all the shady optimization tricks that someone can figure out". Instead of resorting to such tactics, he simply wrote a weblog entry and asked his readers to link to it. Another competitor took this idea further and wrote the Nigritude Ultramarine FAQ[1], which placed sixth overall, won the "Judge's Choice" award, and remains a valuable source of information about the competition.


Since the end of the formal competition, the evolution of the Google results for nigritude ultramarine remains an enlightening area of study. As of November 7, 2005, the top two Google results are the blog entry that won the competition and the Nigritude Ultramarine FAQ.

It is known that Google generally tries to detect and penalise dirty tricks, and nigritude ultramarine makes an obvious test case. An important open question remains whether Google has treated nigritude ultramarine specially in any way; the notoriously secretive company has refused to comment. As of September 2004, the Google results do not appear hand-crafted, and several insipid pages appear high—although lower than they did during the competition—on the search page.

Comparison of search results for nigritude ultramarine during and after the competition is complicated by the change the competition has caused to the meaning of the phrase. Before, it was purely a nonsense phrase that could not possibly be searched for by anyone looking for any real resource. Now it refers primarily to the competition itself, and is a natural phrase to use to find information about the competition. (As of September 5, 2004, the highest Google result that is an official competition page is SearchGuild's, which is ranked 18th.) It is also natural for someone to search for the phrase to find out why it appears on so many webpages. (The Nigritude Ultramarine FAQ, ranked second as of September 5, 2004, is an excellent resource for this.)

Furthermore, due to the nature of web searching, any web-based reporting about the nigritude ultramarine competition, feeds back and affects the search results in question. This effect was previously noticed in the reporting of Googlewhacks, and takes a more complex form in this case.

References: Nigritude Ultramarine

Seraphim proudleduck

  • Dates: 1 September 2004 - 1 January 2005
  • Keyword: seraphim proudleduck
  • Prize: £1000 (1st), £300 (2nd), £200 (3rd)
  • Sponsor: Salmonbones

Seraphim proudleduck was created by Salmonbones. When the contest ended, over 520,000 results existed for the term. (As of January 2006, about 132,000 results still exist.)

Since different Google servers are known to show different results, the search was to be performed from the UK. A bonus prize (a webpage with a PageRank of 7) was going to be awarded to the number one position for the phrase in Google Images. However, in an unexpected turn of events, the contest organizer announced that he sold the SalmonBones.co.uk domain name, and no prize was actually awarded. (The contest winner, Google Blogoscoped, wrote more about this on their website.)

V7ndotcom Elursrebmem

  • Dates: January 15, 2006 - May 15, 2006
  • Keyword: V7ndotcom Elursrebmem
  • Prize: $4,000 and an iPod for 1st place plus bonus prizes for 2nd through 5th place
  • Sponsor: v7n.com

The contest runs from January 15, 2006 to May 15, 2006.[2] The prizes are awarded for the top five positions in Google. A number of webmasters in the Search industry have decided to give any winnings they have to charity -- whether or not they will do remains to be seen.

On January 18 the MSN search engine V7ndotcom elursrebmem returned zero results for the phrase, but returned more than zero results for this phrase plus other keywords. This was first uncovered by Philipp Lenssen of Google Blogoscoped [3]. What seemed like MSN blocking an SEO competition now looks like a temporary glitch, as results are back to normal.


  • Dates: January 16, 2004 - April 16, 2004
  • Keyword: Serps
  • Prize: none
  • Sponsor: various

The competition originated in the Usenet newsgroup alt.internet.search-engines. Serps was chosen as the keyword for the initial competition, primarily due to the fact it is an acronym for Search Engine Results Page. Not a well known word, except by SEOs, this meant it was not a particularly competitive target, allowing for the tracking of competing sites to be reasonably easy. SEO professional Brett Tabke claims to have invented the abbreviation in 2000 in a forum post on his site webmasterworld.com.

The competition officially began on January 16, 2004, and ended April 16. There was no entry fee and no prize, and the competition was open to all.

Carcasherdotcom Seocontest

  • Dates: 1 February 2006 - 31 December 2006
  • Keyword: carcasherdotcom seocontest
  • Monthly Prize: Per month starting March 1st, $500 to the SEO, whose website is in the first place on Google, $200 for Yahoo, and $100 for MSN.
  • End of contest Prize: 1st prize (1st in Google on December 31st), $3,000 + 42" Plasma TV + $12,000 SEO Contract for 2007, second prize (1st in Yahoo on December 31st), $2,000 + Sony PSP, third prize (1st in MSN on December 1st), $1,000 + Apple iPod.
  • Sponsor: CarCasher.Com

The Four Required Words

  • Dates: 15 February 2006 - 15 May 2006
  • Keyword: "the four required words"
  • Monthly Prize: None.
  • End of contest Prize: 1st in Google ($100 + Icon), 1st in MSN ($20), 1st in Yahoo ($20), 1st in A9 ($20), 1st in Google Images ($20), 1st in A9 Images ($20), 1st in Ask Images ($20).
  • Sponsor: various

This is the first contest that uses a quoted expression. This is also the first contest that targets image search engines. Finally there is a collective subcontest (without prize) that allows forums to compete.

retsambew dash klat for Charity

  • Dates: 03 April 2006 - 1 September 2006
  • Keyword: "retsambew dash klat for Charity"
  • Monthly Prize: None.
  • End of contest Prize: Total cash value prizes total $4,910.30 for 1st through 5th place.
  • Sponsor: various

This contest hosted by Webmaster-Talk.com has a unique set of conditions including: The use of a brand new domain name. No remotely hosted blog domains are allowed. No Subdomains are allowed. The contest keywords can not be used in the domain (with dashes or without any dashes) (subpages with the keyword is fine). The winning page must also link to a Charity of their choice from Give.org. See the contest announcement page for further details.

Sex Web Cams Zoom11

  • Dates: 01 April 2006 - 1 October 2006
  • Keyword: "Sex Web Cams Zoom11"
  • Monthly Prize: $100 each month for No.1 on Google/Yahoo/Msn Starting 01 April.
  • End of contest Prize: Total prizes will be more then $20K according to the amount of the relevant web pages.
  • Sponsor: Zoom11.com (Adult site)

Zoom11.com contest is the first known SEO + Porn contest. It combines affiliate program ($1000 bonus for the best affiliate), SEO skills on the biggest search engines - Google, Yahoo and MSN, and marketing skills - the prizes are in the webmasters hand to set. Zoom11 SEO Updates

See also

External links

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