SEO Hero is the name of the Wix SEO contest where the best website will win $50,000 in 2017 by appearing first for “seo hero” in Google search. Being the best in terms of search engine optimization (SEO) means that your link appears in search engines above your competitors for a keyword that’s important to your business or blog. Unfortunately, I can no longer support Wix or their competition because they are using their own website to trick Google into ranking them first. If you want to win, support me in demanding that Wix play fair or come clean.
SEO Hero Contest Support
The SEO hero contest seems pretty easy at first glance, but if you want to participate, you need to pay attention to the details. You can view the full rules in all of their legal-speak glory here.
Ranking for SEO hero isn’t enough. Keep the following conditions in mind while optimizing for the contest:
- Follow Google’s SEO guidelines exactly. The moderator will likely be looking for anything that Google might consider gray- or black-hat. Copied or stolen content, spammy links, doorway pages and other black hat SEO techniques are obvious, but there are other things to consider.
- Don’t be negative, especially about Wix. The moderator and the sponsor (Wix) can disqualify you for just about anything, so keep your contest positive. And even though I’d love to win $50,000, you have to respect what these guys are doing over at seohero.support. All the feels are here.
A third-party moderator will conduct 6 searches for “SEO hero” between March 13, 2017, and March 15, 2017.
Being considered an SEO hero is a double-edged sword. Since launch marketers have been trying to “win at SEO” on Google by optimizing websites to appear one page one of search results. With millions of potential website visitors at stake, SEOs try to reverse-engineer Google’s infamous algorithm to beat out competitors for keywords.
Google SEO Guidelines
While Google tolerates SEO to an extent, they have also worked continuously to make ranking well in organic search more difficult. They offer SEO guidelines to webmasters with much of the focus on a website’s technology, usability, and experience.
Google recommends creating a fast, responsive website that focuses on the users, not Google. And while that just makes sense, SEOs (and their clients) aren’t always willing to do the hard work. This is especially true if there is an easier way to win.
Google uses links in its algorithm, acting like an on-going election where web sites vote for each other with hypertext links and anchor text. In fact, it’s believed that links are still the most powerful signal that helps Google rank pages. SEOs have tried to take advantage of this knowledge for over a decade by using “blackhat” SEO techniques such as buying links, hiding text and scraping content.
About the Wix Website Builder
Wix is a cloud-based HTML5 website builder designed to help non-coders create sites in a drag and drop interface.
Who are SEO Heroes?
An SEO hero can also be someone in the search engine optimization industry that you look up to, learn from or who just does amazing things in organic search.
When Wix announced their SEO Hero contest last year, I was stoked. $50,000 is a great incentive and I was definitely on board. The idea behind the competition is pretty simple: outrank a website built on the Wix platform in Google for the search “SEO Hero”.
Wix is Cheating at their own SEO Contest
Caveman TLDR: Wix contest good, use links win, bad.
I like the competition concept and I don’t know the SEO team at Wix, but I feel they didn’t give enough thought to how the SEO community would respond. Digitally speaking, the SEO community is a force of nature. Do something right, and we will help spread the word and tout your victory. Helpful doesn’t even begin to describe many of the people in my industry.
We’re also smart as hell and enjoy good competition. SEO’s battle daily against each other and “the algorithm” to win at search, all the while sharing what we learn with each other to make us collectively better. To create a contest targeted at what we do specifically was a bold move and had the potential to gain our support.
However, creating a contest targeted at what we do specifically was a bold move and had the potential to gain our support. But instead of trying to win and prove their clout, Wix appears to be using high-powered links to rig the competition. Obvious to us, but not so much to the average Joe Business Owner who may take a Wix SEO victory at face value.
Time to break it down.
But let’s start with a laugh, courtesy of Andrew Shotland: Wix’s Real SEO Heroes! #NSFW
Disclaimer: I am NOT in the running to win this competition.
What Wix Did Right
Wix is website builder that is touted as being easy to use. But there have been some questions raised about how well a Wix-made site would perform in search. In other words, customers were complaining that their Wix sites weren’t ranking well on Google. Wix has defended itself in the SEO space as any website-related company should.
But Why the Contest?
So let’s call the SEO Hero challenge what it is: a reputation management campaign. (I did extensive research on Wix to see how their customers feel about the company overall, and have decided not to address those in this post. I’m also not going to dive into the Wix versus WordPress drama from last year.)
This is about the contest that looks to help Wix address its negative reputation within the SEO industry. For that, I feel that creating a contest to “prove” that a Wix website could outperform other platforms was a wonderful idea. Almost immediately after announcing it, Wix started to receive mentions on sites like Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal, as well as on social media. Creating your own news to gain citations, mentions (and even links) is very smart.
Wix’s SEO Hero Entry
As promised, the Wix SEO Hero site is built using their platform. And from what I’ve seen in reviews about Wix, the design is quite nice, which matches up with what many people say about Wix sites in general. From a non-technical SEO perspective, the Wix entry made me smile immediately. I’m sure many others in my industry are breaking the Wix “SEO Hero School” site apart from a traditional SEO perspective, but let’s give credit where it’s due.
This is a well-executed piece of Egobait. The superhero-fied gentleman in the image below is Rand Fishkin. If you’ve been in the SEO field for a while, Rand is a household name, as is Moz. If you’re unfamiliar with Moz or Rand, read page 2 of this Forbes article.
Essentially, Rand is one of the most well-respected and well-known people in our industry (Read what I wrote about using influencers to attract links). By referencing him on their site, Wix looks to capture his attention, which is known as Egobait (Learn more about Egobait here). If it works, it could lead to their SEO hero site being mentioned by Rand to his 357,000 Twitter followers or maybe even on Moz.com. Contest aside, one mention of this website by Rand could help Wix win this contest and elevate awareness for Wix as a brand.
SEO aside, Wix’s media team/agency pulled out the big guns with this pretty awesome Super Bowl ad:
What Wix Isn’t Doing Right
The Wix SEO Hero challenge has rules that they spell out very clearly on their contest page. To keep things focused, I want to draw attention to just one of those rules:
4.1.3. The Hero Websites must be created, maintained and promoted in compliance with the Google Guidelines for SEO published at (the “Guidelines”). Any activity in violation of the Guidelines may disqualify the Participant and its respective Entry from participating in the Contest.
(See the full rules in all of their legal speak glory here.)
Google’s guidelines on SEO are open to interpretation, especially when it comes to link building (I miss you, Matt!).
How Wix is Cheating
To oversimplify it, Google counts links or hyperlinks as votes when ranking pages in search results. Websites in the world of Google SEO vote for each other in some sort of robot search democracy. Links may be the most hotly-contested and most powerful piece of the Google algorithm.
Building links to manipulate this algorithm is considered a violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines. Google often writes about “link attraction” as the alternative to link building, where if you create something amazing or valuable, and then promote it, webmasters and editors will link to your content naturally.
Wix created links to their SEO Hero website manually, using exact-match anchor text to essentially vote for themselves to win their own contest.
“They linked out from Wix.com, what’s the big deal?”
Over 32 million links “vote” for Wix.com. That’s a lot of SEO firepower, firepower that Wix is using to promote what should have been a brand new website in a contest where the winning domain needed to be brand new. The level playing field is gone.
Marie Haynes breaks down Google’s guidelines nicely here:
“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”
I really don’t care that what they did is a clear violation of Google’s guidelines. I care that what could have been a really great reputation management campaign for Wix is garbage. It didn’t need to be this way.
If Wix wins their own contest with these links intact, it’s because they gamed the system that a lot of us do, not by proving anything about their platform. But wait…
Wix May Lose Anyway
Is Wix unknowingly sabotaging their own SEO Hero entry with those links from their blog? With such a close relationship to Wix.com via links and on-page text, it’s likely Google will treat the “SEO Hero School” as an extension of Wix.com instead of its own domain. And wait another second…
What happened to seoheroschool.com? It gets redirect to http://www.giftedseohero.com/. The link from https://support.wix.com/en/article/wix-seo-hero-contest still points to the old domain, but with a redirect in place, those links will carry over as “intermediate links”. (http://www.wix.com/wix-lp/seo-heroes has been updated to point to http://www.giftedseohero.com/.)
Here is how a 301 link looks in Google Search Console:
Maybe Wix Doesn’t Care
Given that Wix had a TV commercial during the Super Bowl and the fact that most people “meh” when it comes to SEO, it’s possible that Wix just doesn’t care if they win or not. They are getting publicity either way.
Why Do I Care?
In 2016, we elected the person who would lead our nation for the next four years.
Whether or not Donald Trump is qualified to lead our country is not for me to say. He won the election based on our current system and will hold the position of President of the United States.
Those are facts.
However, how he won should raise red flags everywhere, not just in America. Finding the facts about anything or anyone today is challenging. And, as citizens in a democracy, it is our duty to choose our leaders based on facts. Right?
The internet has given us the power to communicate instantaneously. The original intent of this inter-network was probably to allow scientists (and eventually everyone) to share knowledge in an accelerated fashion, and amazing things have happened since.
Wix cheating at an SEO contest seems like a “no big deal” type of thing. But if you read between the lines, it’s part of the “fake news” epidemic. Read this post to see what I mean.