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What We Learned from the SEO Hero Contest


Starting last November, Rocket Digital participated in an SEO performance contest hosted by Wix. Titled “SEO Hero”, the contest gave three months to see who could create a new website that ranked #1 for “SEO Hero” in New York city.

The rules were simple. Your site had to be a new domain and cheaters who were discovered would be disqualified. The top prize? $50,000.

Realizing that our time was tight – we are always busy with client work – the Rocket Digital team was still excited to take on the challenge.

Our SEO Hero Strategy

We started, as we always do, with setting a sound strategy in place. We debated many tactics: Should write about our personal SEO Heros? Should we create shareable SEO cartoons and memes? We ultimately decided to create an SEO Hero website that included a mix of SEO tools and articles covering topics we wanted to learn about. We would also use our SEO hero site for testing various SEO tools and plugins.

We built our SEO website on WordPress, which gave us the ability to build the site quickly. In fact, after deciding on the best domain name and theme, we had the initial site up within a few days. We then assigned tasks throughout our team for setting up social media accounts, writing, and organizing content. This proved to be a strong team building exercise, with each team member excited to be involved.

Throughout the duration of the contest, while we didn’t have as much time as we’d like to spend on the website, we kept adding content and optimizing as best we could.

What we Learned

Unfortunately, the SEO Hero contest did not go as we hoped. While we ranked better than average, it was clear that there was a lot of cheating (e.g., link buying, hijacking competing websites, etc.) that was driving the top performers. While Rocket Digital remains committed to white hat techniques there is, evidently, a lot of black hat SEO in our industry. Most of this black hat work was done in the final two weeks of the contest, as black hat SEO does not maintain long-term results.

SEO Hero let us Experiment

Although we did not win the $50,000, all was not lost. Our SEO Hero website gave us a platform to test many ideas and WordPress Plugins. For example, we used the WordPress AMP plugin which was an easy way to make our site AMP friendly. We learned a how to fix AMP errors in Google Search Console. We also got to experiment with the Smartlook, Sumo, and Caldera Forms plugins.

We gained a deeper appreciation of the SEO community

The SEO Hero contest also introduced our team to a lot of talented people in the SEO industry, as well as new SEO blog and SEO news sites around the world. One of our favourites was Patrick Stox and his beanseohero.com site.

It’s much more interesting working for clients

While a $50,000 cash prize is plenty of motivation, working for our Rocket Digital clients is more rewarding. We appreciate the diversity of our clients and the opportunity to make our clients happy, visible and profitable each day. These daily victories add up quickly and result in fantastic results for our clients. That is our greatest reward.

Our Conclusions

While many of the content participants aren’t happy with Wix’s announced winners, the contest itself did bring the SEO community closer together. The contest was fun and exciting for our SEO team. Even though the contest is over, we plan on keeping our site live to continue learning about new techniques and plugins that will also help our clients.

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