Jason Calacanis Challenge Update

SMS Text

On Monday I blogged about the [Jason Calacanis challenge](http://www.pronetadvertising.com/articles/calacanis-seos-next-evangelist0307.html) and how he received a 21% increase in traffic with only 10% of the changes being made so far. Many people have been wondering what the 10% of the changes were and some have even blogged that it could have been a [fluke](http://www.calacanis.com/2007/03/28/seo-crack-pipe-increases-traffic-at-calacanis-com/).
Just to give everyone a better understanding of how I calculated the 21% increase, I first took the 6 days before SEO was done and compared it to 6 other days roughly 20 days after SEO was implemented. The data before SEO was done was a bit biased because on one of the days his traffic doubled because he wrote on the Oscars and the following day his traffic returned to normal. On that Monday, if he had normal traffic and did not blog on the Oscars his search traffic due to SEO would have increased by over 40%.

For those of you who are wondering what changes have been made so far, they are related to the title tag and meta descriptions of post pages.
Post titles where: The Jason Calacanis Weblog – [Name of post entry]
New Post titles: [Name of post entry]
Meta description tags before were blank and contained nothing.
New meta description: [First 20 or so words from the post]
These overall changes cause a few things from my understanding:
1. It helps the content look more unique in the eyes of a search engine.
2. Search engines place more weight on the words near the start of the page title so by moving the important words towards the beginning it helps with rankings.
3. It also helps make listings look more relevant in the search results and thus get a greater share of the clicks.
And as promised here is some education on SEO (some contrary to “popular” belief):
1. There are multiple factors that can cause a site to increase search traffic such as links, but on-page optimization is also a key component.
2. SEO is NOT a short term strategy, it can take months if not years. Buying traffic through PPC is a quick way to increase your traffic, SEO is long term.
3. Higher rankings on search engines can build trust and increase reputation. Getting a few extra hundred visitors a day to your website that may have not seen your blog before helps with branding.
4. SEO is not a quick fix or a quick way to get traffic. Getting on the homepage of [Netscape](http://www.netscape.com) is a quick way to increase your traffic.
5. SEOs can optimize garbage and in many cases increase a sites ranking, but where it is really effective is when you optimize a website that is filled with quality content and information. So if you spent that ten to twenty grand somewhere else you may get a big boost in traffic but ideally you would want to spend money on original research, video, audio, photos, services, etc… as well as on SEO.
6. In many cases sites rank for terms that they shouldn’t rank as high for such as “HDMI cables” but sooner or later search engines will keep on improving and more relevant results will be placed at the top of search engines.
Granted there could have been other things that caused an increase in your search traffic such as more links, but due to all of this I am confident that there was a good increase in search traffic from SEO. This is not a quick fix but instead a healthy way to organically improve search traffic. Either way I will still keep up my end of the deal. 🙂

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... Read Full Bio
Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • Nice writeup my friend! I do agree (and tell every client) that SEO is NOT a short-term fix. How many times do we hear “oh if I spend that $1,000 you will get me to position #1 of xyz in 3 days?”
    I am not sure I 100% agree with leaving off the “jason calacanis” part from the titles. I have wrestled with this but overall I think it is important.
    Why? Because the title is what people look at first. If someone sees a brand name (product, person, etc.) that they recognize they are more likely to click it. Leaving it off makes the result seem “anonymous”.
    So from your example here is what I would suggest:
    Post titles where: The Jason Calacanis Weblog – [Name of post entry]
    New Post titles: [Name of post entry] from Jason Calacanis
    And I prefer a set meta descrip rather than the first x words. Allows you to buffer the entire article rather than the words which might be a bit off. I am not sure what his awesome blogsmith software which he sold to AOL can handle an excerpt field, but that is typically how I set it (assuming it is a very short excerpt field).
    I am excited to see what you do next!

  • Allen, I prefer page titles that way as well.

  • Allen thanks for the words of encouragement. And thanks for telling Jason that he misspelled my name… I think he fixed most of them.

  • shor

    Good measured response Neil 🙂
    Unfortunately, JC is a primo shit-stirrer. It’s a great shit sandwich when his latest post is able to disguise the shit as a backhanded compliment…
    “All that being said…. I must admit that the SEO crack hit feels good. I can’t wait to smoke the rest of Neil’s SEO crack and watch my stats go through the roof for things like HIIT training and HDMI cables–of course, it makes me feel very, very dirty.”
    Calling SEO a crack hit and a short term strategy is so 1990s. His disrespect for your service is simply amazing, not that I expected better.
    Keep taking the high ground.

  • mad4

    LOL adding some meta tags, its just too easy.

  • Neil, I agree with what you said. SEO is not a quick fix. SEO is long term and unfortunately many site owners want immediate (quick-fix) results.
    People often shoot down SEO because of this. I’m sure they think that because there are no immediate results, then it must not work, therefore it’s not worth it.
    Every site owner should invest in SEO as it is indeed a healthy way to organically improve search traffic over the long term.
    Well done on sticking to your guns and intending to keep your part of the deal!

  • Where can I find the plugin you used for the meta-description?

  • People sometimes forget how big of a difference seemingly little changes can make.
    These are not big huge changes. These are good practices with website creation. These are also good seo. SEO is having a picture of the entire gameplan and applying it.
    Nice job guys. Now as a parting gift to Jason – please remind him that what you told him was just the tip of the iceberg. In effect, it is the seo 101 foundation stuff that comes as prelude to the understanding of “seo thinking” (i.e. where the great ideas really come from).

  • What is the traffic tracking tool that was being used above in this blog entry, Neil ?

  • Jeff – it’s google analytics