Two weeks ago the original David Walsh Challenge commenced.  For those that missed it, the aim was to see who could appear higher up in Google when searching for the other persons name i.e:

Search David Walsh and see Cube Websites higher up than Chachakawooka
Search Ashraf Vali and see Chahchakawooka higher up than Cube Websites
As a bonus challenge, we were also trying to see who could appear higher up when searching for “Ashraf Walsh”.

Techniques Used

Whilst there were no set restrictions on what methods we could use, we did agree that if either of us did something really over the top, then other person would win by default.

I stuck to just writing blog posts.  I wrote 2 articles, both with the terms “Ashraf Vali”, “David Walsh” and “Chachakawooka”.  By tagging my articles with those keywords I was also able to generate extra pages with WordPress based on those tags.  Once the articles were written they were submitted to Reddit and Twitter.  Within an hour of posting they’d be indexed by Google and my ranking for that search term would be updated.

David did a lot more.  He wrote a blog article, he changed the page title and footer of all 2000+ pages of his site and submitted articles to Digg, Reddit and Twitter.  By having his entire site plastered with the term he was trying to optimise for in prominent areas (page titles count a lot for Google) he blackhat-SEO’d his site to the extreme.  It would have been fair for me to call his cheating at that point, but I opted not to just to see how Google would react to his spamming.

The Results

At this point bear in mind that the initial challenge was just to see who could get higher up first. In that case the winner was me, acheiving a higher ranking for David Walsh within 24 hours of starting.

After agreeing that I’d already won, we decided to carry on a bit longer to see what happens over a period of 2 weeks.  Now that the 2 weeks are up, here’s how things changed:

When searching for David Walsh, Cube Websites appears on page 5, whereas Chachakawooka is on page 6 (was 7 this morning).  One point to me!

When searching for Ashraf Vali, Chachakawooka and Cube Websites both appear on page 1, but unfortunately Chachakawooka does appear higher up.  One point to David.

A search for “Ashraf Walsh” returns both sites, with Chachakawooka first and then Cube Websites second.

Summary

As mentioned, I won the original challenge – me and David are both agreed on that.  However, the long term results actually led to a 2-1 win for David.  This is fully understandable when you take certain factors into account:

  1. David made the modifications to his site AFTER both my blog posts.  This led to Google thinking his content is actually fresher than mine
  2. I have David Walsh in 2 page titles, and Ashraf Vali in none.  David has Ashraf Vali in one page title and David Walsh in every page title on his site.  This means beating Cube Websites for Ashraf Vali is very easy in comparison to beating Chachakawooka for David Walsh due to the fact that Chachakawooka is optimised for David Walsh whereas Cube Websites isn’t optimised for Ashraf Vali.
  3. Davids methods were only short terms measures.  Whilst my blog posts will remain on Cube Websites for the foreseeable future, he’s already changed his page titles back although his footer message is still on every page.

Final Words

The David Walsh SEO Challenge was a fun task, and we both won in our own rights.  We’ve already planned our next challenge and I’ll let you know when it starts!