Using Google as a Top 10 List – The Power of SEO

After being in the SEO industry for about 2-3 years (at Virante, Inc), and the online industry for nearly a decade, I was growing wary of folks who claim that Search Engine Optimization is dead. Traditional marketers, ethics addicts, and stingy business folks have joined in a chorus that Google has won the game of SEO.

Similarly, I got sick and tired of posting top 5 lists to my own blog. Sure, everyone loves them (especially digg), but wouldn’t it be better to post your own top 5 list to Google instead? So, not only would you prove that SEO is very much alive, but you could use Google as a platform to dispell the SEO myths altogether.

So, here it goes, my top 5 reasons that you should avoid SEO. Or, if you want to do it the long way, just search google for “five SEO excuses”, without the quotes!

If you notice, not only do all my pages rank for the top 5 positions, but they rank in the order that I want them to, causing the subdomains of each to read out “You Should Switch To Virante“. The whole project only took about 3-4 weeks to bring to fruition.I made careful note to use the subdomains you, should, switch, to and virante to prove that you can control the results enough so that you can order them. SEO is still that powerful.Regardless, I think that the proof is in the Results – and these are some pretty nice results.
SEO Works. If yours isn’t, you should switch to Virante.

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  1. Steve Gill
    Aug 24, 2006

    I gotta say – that’s impressive.

    Hmmmm…maybe White Hat magic *is* as powerful as Black Hat! 😉

  2. Bob
    Aug 25, 2006

    Great post. Shows SEO is still alive and kicking.

  3. Jimmy Flirten
    Aug 28, 2006

    This is very interesting stuff. Just wondering how you actually managed to get the domains ordered in this way in the search results.

  4. Ted
    Aug 29, 2006

    This only worked for you because nobody else was optimizing for the search term ‘five seo excuses’. If you were up against any competition – such as you are now that this has been published – you would never have been able to make it happen.

    However, kudos for briefly having them in the proper order.

  5. Catfish
    Aug 30, 2006

    How is this impressive. Any SEO who knew what they were doing could have ranked for the phrase “five seo excuses” because the phrase is not competitive. It requires very little back link power to rank for that phrase and using Google’s known algo trait of giving sub domains their own listings is hardly impressive. You want to impress, do that for a keyword like “Las Vegas Hotels” That would be impressive. This is equivalent to going up to your friends at a party and saying, “Pick a card…”. It looks cool to someone who doesn’t know the trick. But a real magician would instantly spot the amatuer. Same deal here. The ordering can be done by simple Page Rank manipulation if you know what your doing (amoung other possible solutions).

    Having said that, anyone who thinks SEO is dead is brain dead. Just because something is complex doesn’t mean it can be done and done cost effectively with significant ROI. The problem is, since there are no barriers to entry in this industry, ever idiot that reads a one page article about search engine optimization at ClickZ, calls himself an SEO. But there is plenty of opportunity for legitimate SEO companies and experts as many of the biggest companies in the world are just now getting exposed to what SEO is and the potential gains. The company I work for specializes in industrial manufacturers and enterprise level clients. I can assure you there is no shortage of these kinds of companies who are taking a keen interest in SEO right now.

    Editors Respone: It is duly noted that the keyword “five seo excuses” is completely and utterly non-competetive. The truth is, however, that getting pages to rank in order is actually far more difficult that an SEO like yourself might imagine. If you noticed, while these sites ranked in order in Google, they did not in Yahoo, MSN, or Ask. The sites are the same, but each of the search engines rank the pages in different order. I must disagree with you that this is a very easy task. I agree with you that SEO is not dead – if you read any of the five seo excuses, you would notice that they are debunking the excuses, not defending them.

  6. pauldwaite
    Aug 30, 2006

    Can you do the same for “nigritude ultramarine”?

    Editor’s Note: No. At least, not for free 🙂

  7. Stefan Ivanov
    Aug 30, 2006

    How did you manage to rank the pages in that order?

    Part 1, Part 2 … in the articles.

    And most importantly the following hidden HTML on your home page (and possibly on some other pages you have):

    Five SEO Excuses (P1) |
    Five SEO Excuses (P2) |
    Five SEO Excuses (P3) |
    Five SEO Excuses (P4) |
    Five SEO Excuses (P5)

    I believe you know that sometimes Google punishes for hidden text and links like these.

    Like one of the above asked, why don’t you order these articles in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 positions in Google again like on your screenshot now that you have some competition? The answer is simple – because you can’t. You are just trying to impress the laity with a stupid trick…

    Editor’s Comments:

    1. Those links have been removed, they were not actually supposed to be on the homepage, and certainly not hidden.
    2. The sites were ranked in order using on-site ranking factors which tend to work better in Google and Yahoo, MSN, and Ask. As mentioned before, it is not easy to get sites to rank in a particular order – if it were, then all of the search engines should have ranked these 5 in correct order.
    3. While I am working on regaining the ranking just for the fun of it, the point of this exercise was to show the ability to manipulate the position of several competing sites by following algorithmic guidelines – it was not to prove that we could outrank individuals. As mentioned before, if you want examples of us outranking other sites, you should read our portfolio.

  8. Steve Gill
    Sep 1, 2006

    Hey Russ,

    Just for the record – we “yay sayers” WERE praising you for the fact you were able to rank those pages on Google in the order you chose… not, as some of the later comments seem to suggest, praising your ability to rank high for a noncompetitive phrase.

    …and my SEO education & experience does exceed simply reading a one page article on ClickZ. 😉

    Just another 2 cents.

  9. Kim Steinhaug
    Sep 1, 2006

    Very impressive stuff! This really shows that diving your nose into SEO and really spending braintime on it pays off.

    If this doesn’t bring you customers nothing will!

    Great work!

  10. al toman
    Sep 2, 2006

    I’m not associated with SEO. I was referenced here via some news alert.

    SEO, to date, have yet to clarify/varify (their) field.

    Perhaps you can clarify:

    3 to 4 weeks? How many hours? At what rate?

    4 weeks x 40hours/week x $60/hour = a base cost of $9600.

    What is your to-date ROI? What is your projected ROI?

    Order? And the value of this is …?

    As pointed out, no search popularity through Google Adwords or Overture:

    ” We’re sorry, but we’re unable to generate relevant keywords for this keyword. Please make sure you have entered the keyword correctly. Or, enter another keyword into the box to see related keywords.”

    “No suggestions for five%20seo%20excuses.

    Who, that is non-SEO, defines White Hat from Black Hat or is this distinction self-induced?

    What is the certification-standards for SEO?
    Who (what authority) audits it?

    SEO = “search engine optimization”

    In so doing “5 seo excuses”, which search engine did you optimize? If any, how does this service the community of the W.W.W.?

    Or is that not the intent of (this) SEO?

    Or rather, did you perform “web page optimization for search engines”?

    Or do you even know?

    Just asking. Even Danny Sullivan is having difficulty defining what it is that he does.

    Perhaps you can, hey?
    There’s over 17,000,000 small business awaiting to use your services but no one knows, exactly, what these services are.

    Perhaps, placing 5 at the top for keyword:


    #2 =
    #3 =
    #4 =
    #5 =

    Good luck.

    Kind Regards and no excuses,
    Al Toman

  11. Rob
    Sep 2, 2006

    The screenshot is gone?

  12. Ash Nallawalla
    Sep 3, 2006

    Well done for a great viral marketing campaign! Subdomains were not what they used to be for SEO a year ago.

  13. Abbey
    Feb 2, 2007

    Thanks man, i agree

  14. Vick!
    Mar 16, 2007

    The control over ranking is simply impressive.

    The people who are posting negative comments and saying that ‘five seo excuses’ is non-competitive are just stupid. Its not about competition guys its about knowledge of on-page factors involved in ranking and verification of that knowledge. And I would say that this guy’s knowledge about on-page factors involved in Google ranking is simply undoubtable.

    Being an SEO myself, I’d say its a very neat trick. I like it.

  15. Zlabm
    Mar 29, 2007

    Nice..nice post.

  16. nsm seo
    Aug 30, 2007

    i hate it when people use unheard of long tails to prove a point – even though you got them in ascending order it still proves nothing against competitive optimization.

    Its a dead duck as far as a lab test is concerned but still clever enough to market the results for your own gain.

    Author Response: I find your comments quite frustrating. First, of course this is a cheap parlor trick. However, it is a cheap parlor trick that has not yet been reproduced. Second, it was never intended to be used as evidence for my or Virante’s prowess at succeeding in competitive SERPs. It would be absolutely stupid of us to call attention to our successes in those areas as it would draw undue attention to the clients we serve. Third, that is exactly what it is – “clever enough to market”. This stood out because, as a marketer, that is what we are supposed to do. Draw the attention of the audience for the purpose of selling goods. While this may not have shown our ability to secure top rankings for competitive terms, it does prove that we have the ability to market a product or service effectively. Case in point… you are leaving comments on my blog months after this actually ran.
  17. yza
    Sep 3, 2007

    There’s really a magic here.

  18. nsm seo
    Sep 24, 2007

    I do apologize for my comment – you are right it is good marketing and looking back I had no right to come onto your blog and criticize in an old post.

    Please accept my apologies once more – it is not like me to act in this manner.


  19. hypotheek
    Oct 4, 2007

    Does the fact that you just posted these results have a big impact on your rankings. I think it is very impressive and very interesting test i think you will not be able to keep up these positions.

  20. hypotheek
    Feb 1, 2008

    i really think SEO isnt dead at all. Just keep your content fresh and use social bookmarking sites and all will be fine.

  21. geld lenen
    Feb 10, 2008

    A very good test but SEO dead? There are so many ways to still perform good, if you understand that Google is democratic and thinks logical you are at the right track…

  22. Carrie Haggerty
    Feb 28, 2008

    This is really old, does this still actually work, I was just surfing along as I usually do and came across this. I did what you said and I can’t find “You Should Switch To Virante“. Maybe Im too late.

    Pretty cool though

  23. Nu geld
    May 21, 2008

    I think SEO is not dead at all, but I just really hate those black hate practitioners, that’s not optimizing that’s abusing the flaws in the system I think.

  24. article submitter
    Aug 16, 2009

    Great article. I didn’t know people where telling SEO is dead. It just changes.

  25. Cindy
    Nov 5, 2010

    SEO is long term marketing and you just can’t expect it to happen overnight. All you can do is keep plugging away and doing what your competition isn’t willing to do and you will rise to the top. It will take time and money to reach your desired goal but it is overwhelmingly worth the sacrifice. Homes Longview


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