Calacanis – SEO’s Next Evangelist?

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I’ve been getting quite a few emails asking about the [Jason Calacanis challenge]( so I thought I would update you guys on it today.
We had 6 (not 7) full days of analytical tracking before the first SEO changes were set in place. received 6149 search engine hits between February 21st and February 26th.

Currently SEO changes are still being made and around 10% of them have been made so far which has resulted in 7,449 search engine visitors between March 14th and March 19th. This proves that there was a 21.14% increase in search traffic.

There are still a lot of changes that need to be made and I am going to continuing working on optimizing [Jason’s blog]( When everything is done I estimate a 50% or so increase in search traffic.
On a final note I would like to thank the [Weblogsinc team]( (Alexander Rudloff, Brian Alvey, and Gavin) for implementing changes to on their spare time.

Neil Patel
Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions. Neil also blogs about marketing and entrepreneurship at Quick Sprout.
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  • Neil Patel

    Thanks Greg.

  • Stan Schroeder

    Nice work. I don’t think that anyone ever seriously disputed your expertise, or the usefulness of SEO techniques . Remembering the initial argument, Jason is IMO partly right: too many SEO sites with little new or useful advice are popping from every corner.

  • Michael Jensen (SoloSEO)

    Great work Neil, you constantly amaze me! It will be neat to see Jason’s follow-up.

  • Jeremy Toeman

    To me it’s too bad that there are *any* “tricks” to this. It’s a shame that google (and others) have built such a gameable system.
    As a point of reference here: the topic “HDMI cables” should have *very few* people going to Jason’s blog. He’s not an HDTV expert, and has only posted on the topic once.
    So are these efforts making Google’s search results better or worse for those people out there trying to find information?

  • Skitzzo

    Neil, well done, although to be honest, I don’t think we need any more people reading his self contradicting BS (the A-List doesn’t exist, but here’s how to get on it).

  • Preston

    I think it is an interesting study. I would like to see more data over a longer period of time, however. Search engine traffic is very volatile and with some of my clients sites this kind of variance is expected.
    I’m not saying that you didn’t increase his traffic (I personally think you did) but that I hope to see more data in the future that would provide further proof.

  • David

    Great work. Just a thought though….
    Traffic is easier to drive than conversions. How did the quality of the traffic work out? Conversion rates stay same, get better, decrease?

  • Neil Patel

    David, we weren’t tracking conversions for the blog.

  • Zach Katkin

    Damn, that is impressive, but do you think any other things changed to inflate these numbers beyond your changes? Unfortunately because of the nature of a blog, ever changing, A to B testing can’t be done. If he stops posting it would be good for an apples to apples comparison, but readership would probably suffer greatly, because blog readers are expecting updated content.
    Will you be sharing ANY of the techniques specifically used for Jason’s site?

  • Michael Visser

    Great stuff Neil, way to go in turning the tide.
    Can you give us an idea of what SEO practices you have implemented so far as well as the effort and expertise involved?

  • broc

    nice dude
    your cool points just went up

  • Neil Patel Won’t Leave Me Alone

    Next you’re gonna ask me to find the quarter in your pants aren’t you? It’s that thing that happened with my uncle in ’88 all over again…

  • Neil Patel Won’t Leave Me Alone

    I suggest you challenge Jason to either a fist fight or a hot dog eating contest.

  • Allen Stern

    Hi Neil,
    One of the questions I think that will be asked (and I am asked a lot) is how do you prove that your changes are what brought the 21% increase in se traffic. While I am sure you were able to make an increase, can you share ranking changes in Google?
    For example, 184 people came thru “jason calacanis” vs 140 prior period. Could this mean that just more people were interested in finding him? Perhaps.
    What would help is to see trending as well. What did his search results look like for the last 3-4 periods. He also has received some big publicity over the past months as well.
    I still think it’s hard to prove using just raw visitors. Too many outside factors that can’t be eliminated. But in your charts I see new terms. That could be something to easily show a differentiation.
    I think you are doing a great job and I certainly hope he will bring you on a calacaniscast to discuss.

  • Carsten Cumbrowski

    Hey Neil,
    How about publishing some of the recommendations made to Jason and his blog. I bet some where generic and could help other people as well.
    Or is it a secret because some shady SEO methods were used to cheat the search engines? 😉

  • jay

    I really like the idea. Kudos to Pronet for thinking out of the box and getting some more exposure for this site. 😉
    However, I’m not sure this challenge really says all that much about Pronet’s SEO capabilities because it’s not like it would be hard to tweak a site like to increase search results. I mean, Calcanis has already done all the hard work, but of course you already knew that. 😀

  • Neil Patel

    Allen, the increase in search traffic came from long tail keywords. We did not track the ranking for any keywords.
    Carsten the SEO changes that were made so far were meta tag related. Meta description tags were added to posts and the meta titles on post pages were also changed.

  • alex

    Awesome, i cant wait to see the evolution of your changes! 🙂
    Great job.

  • Doug Karr

    Incredible. Very impressive. Any chance you’ll be releasing a “How I increased…” Guide? I’d pay!

  • Jeremy Steele

    Awesome Neil, keep up the good work 🙂
    You should definitely explain what you did, step by step, with either a series of posts or an eBook or some sort, a lot of people would love it.

  • Yuri

    Erm, you mean page titles, not “meta titles”?
    Technically, I’d try to differentiate between the influence of the two, as meta keywords have none or little influence on the rankings and meta description only helps click throughs.
    Good job. Now you need to get Jason do what he promised (if he did).

  • Cameron Olthuis

    meta desc helps get more unique pages indexed

  • Dustin Woodard

    Great job Neil! I see Jason asking for apologies of others on his site: I fully expect an apology to the SEO industry. It’s time for him to man up to you winning the challenge. As for continuing to improve his site’s SEO past the challenge goals, I hope Jason is paying you for your services!

  • AussieWebmaster

    Great job mate…. warrants a beer at SES

  • Hashim

    Good stuff. I thought meta tags didn’t count for anything, but I guess they do.

  • Maki :: Dosh Dosh

    Except for Jason’s name.. the long tail keywords that bring him traffic seem to be inconstant. It’ll be interesting to see if there are any noticeable trends as more SEO gets done on his blog.
    Great job, Neil!

  • jiaoshi

    Good job.It will be neat to see Jason’s follow-up.

  • Laurel Papworth

    Ummm please don’t yell at me, I’m a SEO newbie 😛 but… but… how can I find out what the long tail keywords are? I mean, is there a site that you put your URL in and hit SUBMIT (such a good word)and bang! there’s the long tail keywords? If there isn’t, shouldn’t there should be.
    Oh, and I guess I should give my children names like Vashti and Perriquin. Much more SEO friendly than Jane and John. Our next generation are going to be full of original names.:)

  • Richard

    Neil, can you tell us what stats tool you are using in those screen shots?

  • Allen Stern

    Richard – that is Google Analytics.
    Neil – I still find bias and gross reporting (not net) 🙂 You are also looking at a month later – how much of this would have happened anyway? I am guessing that your changes probably provided a net gain of ~10% (which is still great!)
    Let’s make another example to illustrate my point.
    Company A is getting 1,000 users from SE a day.
    Company A hires Moose SEO to work on getting more SE users per day.
    Moose SEO does x, y, and z techniques to the SEO (organic).
    Company A now receives 2,000 users a day from SE.
    It is easy for Moose SEO to say “We were able to increase Company A from 1k to 2k a day using x,y, and z techniques”
    What Moose SEO does not mention nor research is what other things happened during this time period. For example, Company A was listed in the NY Times. Company A had 100 new posts that were indexed and received rankings.
    Now, if you want a real world example… was featured in the newspaper last week. I am listed #2 in the results. I saw a heavy increase in traffic to my site when the story posted. It would be easy for me to say that my SEO techniques brought the traffic in but clearly it was not that alone (it was a combo).
    What I am saying is the same thing I say all the time, it’s quite hard to accurately report on SEO traffic changes at a unbiased level. It’s easy to say, they had X, they have Y, we got them Y-X. But it’s not that easy.
    And don’t worry Neil – you can noogie me at SES in NYC next month.

  • Jaan Kanellis

    Nice work, Neil. How about turning your Feedburner “subscribe by email” feature on for your own blog?

  • David Temple

    Good job Neil. What do I need for that kind of help? SEO sucks and all seo is bull. No one can do seo and you couldn’t even seo your way out of a wet paper bag. Did that do it? Thanks, now optimize my site princess.

  • Todd

    Hmmm…no official “awesomeness” statement yet?
    So among other things, we can add welcher to the list?

  • Manta SEO Solutions

    Well done Neil. It’s amazing how simple SEO basics like adding proper titles and meta descriptions can increase traffic.
    Did you add general titles and descriptions on each post or did you optimize the meta’s for related keywords on a per post basis?

  • Martin

    SEO obviously works, but i’m not sure if the increases your seeing are realy down to SEO improvements over publicity of the challenge. I think it would have been far better if you’d have arranged to upgrade the SEO on a site without telling people about it first.

  • Todd

    No wonder people get sucked into his attack hooks. It really pains me to not continuously comment on what a douchebag this guy is.
    While I initially liked the idea of shutting him up, it’s obvious he’ll just drag it out, and continue to welch and act like an ass. Fuck him Neil – quit giving him free traffic. There’s no good reason to spend your valuable time on an idiot like this. Let him figure it out on his own, and just ignore any more e-mails he sends you. I really think it’s time for an “ignore the charlatan douchebag campaign”. Please, PLEASE let’s not speak his name anymore.
    Personally, I’ll now be happy if he stays ignorant, and talks out of his ass about “seo crack”.
    *sigh* sucked in again.

  • Cameron Olthuis

    Todd, I agree – did you see his latest post? The guy has balls, unbelievable.

  • Allen Stern

    actually he did the same thing with the alexa “challenge” — i certainly hope he is not the keynote at nyc ses next month.

  • Allen Stern

    Whether or not I agree with your numbers, I just read Jason’s post. I honestly am starting to wonder why people continue to hire him to be a speaker.
    While I agree that spending 20k on organic seo might be a bit much, and that you should take it into consideration from day 1 and just write good content that is optimized, I am shocked at how he calls it.
    First he does not even spell your name right. Second, you did free work for him and the post was barely a thank you. Third, all he did was plug himself, his blog software which he sold for money, and now his new friends new startup which he wants to be on the board of.
    It seems he wants everything for free – he asks for alexa help to get his rating up for free, he asks for free contract advice, now wants free seo.
    Keep your head up Neil – I think you did a great job for him whether or not he appreciates it.

  • Cameron Olthuis

    Allen, I noticed he deleted your comment.

  • Allen Stern

    Hey – I can’t wait to meet you guys in NYC – we can get a knish!

  • Todd

    >did you see his latest post?
    Yep. That’s exactly what got me ranting. It’s one thing when I see a guy talking out of his ass. It’s quite another to see you guys bend over backwards to set him straight about things and have him be ambivalent at best.
    If there’s one thing you can’t fault the guy for, it’s the size of his cajones.
    Don’t waste any more time on this guy for free. I wouldn’t expect the results from him to change much no matter how hard you try. As much as proving him wrong would be satisfying – you know he’ll never ADMIT to being wrong.

  • glenn weissman

    I am glad to see that search engine basics are still the key to success. Congrats!

  • Simonne

    Hi, you did a great job! I now have the proof that I’m not wasting my time in vain trying to optimize my blog. It surely works. A follow up to this study would be very interesting: some longer term results would be more relevant.

  • interWEB geek

    Correct me if I am wrong but wouldn’t the hubug and conversating alone increase what little bit of traffic we see?
    Between the individuals that are focusing on the challenge and following along hitting the sites. Then the individuals that are spreading the buzz about the challenge causing others to hit the sites. Then the individuals who don’t know and stumble upon the story and are checking the sites. Then the individuals, well you get my point….Basically I haven’t seen enough to think your SEO techniques have made all the improvement being shown. You changed a title and added a meta descript. These are common practices that, yes, play a role but nobody should get their hopes up and think it’s going to make that much of a difference in the rather short amount of time stated.
    I’m not knocking you. I feel SEO is important, and feel that you have every bit of knowledge to support your claim but also think that ‘someone’ knew what they were doing when they kicked over this stone.
    I guess what I am asking is which is better for traffic 1: SEO or 2: Stirring shit?
    Show me increased conversions though and I’ll bad mouth your practice, your sites and your advice all along while copying EVERYTHING you do to use both methods to get traffic up!

  • Dustin Woodard

    After reading Jason’s post, I agree with Todd: drop him! If you look back to the challenge details, you’ve already delivered. And instead of fulfilling his obligation, he decides to take a shot at you and the SEO industry once again. What an ass!
    It is quite clear he has a skewed perception of what SEO is and how important it is. Since when is SEO for a “short quick hit”? Even if you rub his face in it, he still doesn’t learn. The best thing we can do at this point is completely ignore him.

  • SEO Kolkata

    Well, Neil no doubt about you doing a great job but Calcanis would probably continue to say this trash because if you are trying to prove him wrong by doing more SEO work on his site – at the end of the day, it is he who is getting increased traffic and a better website.
    I think Dustin is correct, just ignore him, why work for someone who would never learn and is so dogmatic about his views..

  • Dan Thies

    Neil, this will be a great promotion for you if nothing else… so far, it doesn’t look like Jason really gets it. He’ll spin and spin but actually recognizing that there’s some meaningful improvement? I’d be surprised to see that.
    Of course, since it’s just a blowhard’s blog, with no real business purpose other than pimping his friends’ startups, there’s no outcome to measure other than traffic. With a real client, you can show 25% more leads or 18% more sales, or whatever, as a direct and measurable result.
    I don’t know anyone who would charge “$10-20K” to do SEO on a blog… unless the client were, uh, Jason Calacanis.

  • Narsimhan

    Neil, the changes that you do over the pages Titles and Metatags should not be so frequently. This will do more harm than good.
    IMO, it must be because the changes should 1st get crawled and Indexed and later the importance of the pages will be analyzed by Google and reflects on SERPs. Hence it is better to make the changes once in a month.

  • Pizza Duded

    I just stumbled upon this article.
    Checking the Alexa history of Jason’s site shows a very matching corrolation between your seoing and his traffic rise….
    Nice job