Open Challenge to Jason Calacanis

SMS Text

It seems a lot of [commotion]( has been created due to a post that Muhammad did on [Why Socially Driven Sites Hate SEOs]( Jason Calacanis picked up the story and did a whole [rant]( on why he thinks SEO is bullshit…

90% of the SEO market is made up of snake oil salesman. These are guys in really bad suits trying to get really naive people to sign long-term contracts. These clients typically make horrible products and don’t deserve traffic–that’s why they’re not getting it organically so they hire the slimebuckets to game the system for them.

So to you Jason, I offer the following challenge: I can take your blog and increase your daily search traffic by a minimum of 10 to 20% after 30 days of putting my changes into effect. I will NOT be doing anything “shady” or unethical and will even point out all the changes that will be made to your blog. You can even have your own designer/programmer make the changes to your blog; I will even layout everything for them using step-by-step instructions.
As well as increasing your traffic I would like to educate you about SEO and what it is really about. There are tons of great and ethical SEOs that help companies increase their traffic without doing anything against the guidelines of search engines.
Hopefully through this challenge I can get you to change your perspective about SEO. If you don’t trust me and think I will do funny little things check with some of the bloggers you read on a regular basis, some of them link to Pronet Advertising and will tell you first hand that I am not a slime bucket.
If you win, I can post about the fact that SEO is really an over-rated science and actually have proof to back it up. If I win, you post that SEO is awesome, and again with the proof to back it up.
**Update: Jason Calacanis has accepted.

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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  • Terry

    Neil – You are the man!

  • Joe Whyte

    Dang neil!!! Stepping up for the seo community! Good on ya brotha!!
    Let me know if I can be of help to prove that seo is a viable and valuable profession and worthy of respect.

  • Jason

    OK, I’m game… but only if you are 100% transparent about what you’re doing and you do no shady/gaming stuff.

  • David Krug

    Dude of course you are going to win the challenge. Have you ever looked at that source code on

  • Neil Patel

    Jason, happy to see that you accepted the challenge.

  • David Wallace

    Way to step up to the plate, Neil. I can’t wait to hear the outcome.

  • Muhammad Saleem

    This should be a very interesting ‘experiment’ to see. I can’t wait to see the results. There will definitely be some crow-eating involved.

  • Bill

    A lot of class there, Neil – Good going.
    I love it when disputes and disagreements are settled in a positive manner, and it’s great to see that Jason has agreed to participate.

  • greg

    Sweet – glad to see it turn out this way!
    Neil, I have no doubt that you will exceed Jason’s expectations. Have fun.

  • Wendy Piersall :: eMom

    Sheer brilliance Neil. Well done.
    But I’m bummed he accepted – I was going to raise my hand as a backup site for you to work on. 😉

  • Karl Ribas

    Wow… talk about throwing down the gauntlet. What a challenge! Good luck Neil. I certainly don’t have to tell you the number of people you’ll be representing during this challenge.

  • Gareth

    This is going to be very interesting. Can’t wait to see the results!

  • Toivo Lainevool

    Way to go Niel. This should be very interesting.

  • Jeremy David

    hahahahaha good luck! I hope you win.
    Make sure you post what you did to improve his SEO… I wouldn’t mind adopting some blog optimization myself.

  • Drew Stauffer

    Nice Job Neil 🙂 Way to make some lemonade out of lemons.

  • nuevojefe

    check with some of the bloggers you read on a regular basis, some of them link to Pronet Advertising and will tell you first hand that I am not a slime bucket.

    I attest to that. He’s a total princess!
    Great challenge, no doubt it will be a success.

  • Douglas E. Welch

    I often have clients asking me about SEO and what I think. I have been skeptical as well, so this will be very interesting to me. Please provide as much detail as possible, without giving away everything, of course. (SMILE) You have to make money somewhere.
    It will be great to have a place to send these clients for more information. Thanks and I will be watching!

  • Brian Clark

    Neil, of course you’ll win this one.
    Hmmm… now that I think about it…
    Calacanis with the easy lob, Patel with the big bat…
    Strategic linkbait, over the fence and out of the park. 😉

  • Todd

    Jason – will you do a call in show with Neil so we can all call in and ask our questions if you lose?
    I’ll be happy to pitch in a tip or two Neil if that gets added to the bet.

  • Andy Beal

    Nice move Neil. Unfortunately, I think all you’ll end up doing is giving him a platform to say that you are among the 10% of good SEOs (which you are). I’d like to see him recant his 90% comment.

  • Jeremy Steele

    Fight! Fight! Fight!
    Err, nice marketing move!
    Good luck with the challenge, Neil.

  • Joe Dolson

    Classy, Neil. And same to Jason, for accepting. This should be interesting. Andy may be right – one quality SEO doesn’t prove a damn thing about the whole 90% comment, but it’s still a worthwhile point to prove.
    Maybe Jason just needs to see ethical SEO in action to displace the misconception he’s got about just what it is!

  • Chris Bennett

    Thats sick! I commend Jason for accepting.

  • gh0stb0t

    This was obviously said in an attempt to start a flame war! Little does Jason understand that the SEO genie is out of the bottle now. Deep down Jason knows he’s a closet SEO fanatic! Everyone has skeletons Jason, it’s cool.

  • Gronk

    Nice work Neil and congrats Jason for accepting. To an extent I think Jason was right about the “snake oil salesman”, but I like to believe that there are more goodies out there then just 10%. Maybe I am just being naive?

  • Brajeshwar

    Wow is a must-see, must-study, must-learn-from battle. Can we get an update each week atleast.

  • kching

    Nice job Neil, go get them!

  • Thomas Holmes

    Excellent idea Neil.
    I have to agree with Andy though. It’s not going to prove anything about the SEO community as a whole. It will show there are some reputable firms. And you’ll get some potentially priceless PR out of it! 🙂

  • gillo

    Niel, I think this challenge deserves a website on its own. But not just this one, start a series of challenges and post updates there.

  • markus941

    Sorry Neil, but I’m NOT going to jump on the bandwagon for this one. Why on earth would you want to do this joker a favor like this?
    Let me get this stright – he ignorantly insults an entire industry he knows nothing about and you REWARD him by giving him your time and expertise to help him grow his blog?!?!
    I guess Shoemoney is right – he’s playing this whole industry for a bunch of fools. If nothing else, can you please insert some hidden links to purrn, cassino, and pills sites on his blog?
    Maybe I should try this technique myself. I’ll go to my attorney, tell him he’s a slimeball and full of crap and then maybe he’ll give me a bunch of legal counseling for free just to prove me wrong. Heck maybe it will work with my mechanic, plumber, and dentist too.

  • Morris

    Dammit, some guys have all the luck! Neil, if I knew you were throwing around SEO challenges I would have happily let you take a crack at the new Wizard site we’re building – any chance Jason will publish your ‘tricks or the trade’?

  • Andy Beard

    I think everyone should just link to Graywolf’s JC post and raise that in the rankings.
    If you do this make sure you don’t use any shady link farm (*cough blog network) tricks.
    Also bare in mind that it is all running on BlogSmith. It is probably easy to win this just adding a sitemap, maybe harder to add categories to everything or LSI based cross linking.

  • KIP

    Incredible. This is one I will be watching. Please keep us updated – date you start making changes, date you’re finished, and perhaps daily updates from there on on traffic changes.
    Best of luck!

  • BlueBobbo

    Neil, you are awesome man. I can’t wait to see results!

  • Orson

    all i got to say is very interesting

  • Scumbucket

    How about not giving any more ink or attention to Jason Calacanis? He’s the Paris Hilton of blogs. With nothing interesting to say (and nothing to back up his uninterestingness), all he does is scream “look at me! Look at me!”

  • Chris

    Mr. Scumbucket, I don’t think Jason screams “look at me! Look at me!” Most of the attention brought to him is from him speaking his mind. If you care so much about him not getting attention then why comment? Jason is a big name in the blog world, and many people still care what he has to say. I’m sure you will be hearing about him for a while to come, and I can only imagine what all he can do with his new position with Sequoia Capital.

  • Shortshire

    Neil needs to put Jason in his place. I watched the video with Jason and he starts talking about his own product. Maybe he posted the video for marketing needs and to show people how creepy he is. Well I have something left to say Neil FOR THE WIN.

  • rob

    no offense, but Jason Calacanis has already won… he wins if you improve his site by 10%, and he just states you are exceptional, and 89% of other SEO experts are a scam… if you dont do the improvements, he says, “see, we got an expert, and i was right”… on top of either, look at the buzz he has generated for himself.

  • Jaan Kanellis

    Neil will you be posting what exactly was done to Jason’s blog if your work successful or unsuccessful?

  • Dal

    I am sorry but I would not give him or anyone free seo work if they didn’t already believe in the concept of “search”. If Jason does not think SEO is worth anything then so be it. “SEO” is the s&@^t because “Search” in general is the s@*t. It is funny that we are having this huge debate because sometime ago I went to some of Jason’s Blog network and right off the back I noticed a bunch of possible improvements and I was thinking of calling them and seeing if I could get them to use my services. I even wondered if they had an in-house SEO and at that point I figured they did and he “sucked”. 😛 I can think of quite a few people who could drop a bomb on his site: Greg B B, Todd F(Oil-Erectus), Rand, DN, DP, DS, myself, etc… The funny part would be the sit down with the site’s developers and you keep hearing “You want us to do what!?!?!!? to the database? /Soapbox

  • Paul Knag

    Jason already did all the linkbait himself, and increased his audience. You don’t even need to nerd around with his blog to fix dupe content and navigation issue to hit the 10% increase target.
    Instead we should employ the Patel/Calcanis conversation to help update the definition of any organic web traffic building activities, or SEO.

  • Neil Patel

    Thanks everyone for your support. One of the goals of this challenge is to educate Jason so he can understand that SEO is just not about clean design and content. Hopefully he will get an understanding of how great SEO is and that most SEOs are not snake oil salesmen.
    As for the changes I am going to be making to his blog, I will be sharing them, but I can’t guarantee how detailed I will be.

  • holch

    Jason is quite clever. He can only win in this challenge!
    Write about a controverse issue you it will go around the web in hours. That alone means a lot of backlinks. Now someone offers him a free SEO for his blog and will even teach him or his team about SEO.
    Even if he loses this challenges, will get at leas 10-20% more Traffic…

  • DLPerry

    Hmm. Nice piece of work that. Jason calls SEO bad names, and gets a known SEO type to do SEO work on his blog for free. Very clever indeed – I wish I’d of thought of it. 🙂
    Of course Neils response is equally clever- you can’t BUY publicity like this!
    Should be a win-win for both parties, and an interesting and potentially enlightening experiment for everyone else.

  • Andy Beard

    Zach – I am not an SEO by trade, and just write about my SEO experiments. Then again I make my living from niche sites that earn search traffic. I can rip the SEO apart in just a few minutes. Relative addresses don’t help you, your design should place the content first rather than the navigation, you should actually finish that sitemap, and above all, you need to create content that people want to link to.
    Truth be told, there are things on my own sites that could be vastly improved, but creating content that people will link to has the highest priority.
    In many ways Jason has that part of his SEO down very well, and it is the tweaking that is needed to maximise his efforts.

  • nsharp

    Any way you can help me with some ethical SEO magic :)? True, I’m sadly nowhere as famous as Jason, but I’m still looking for tips on how to get my blog “noticed”

  • Daniel Scocco

    Good move Neil,
    Will you keep the Pronet Advertising readers updated on the changes that you will propose for Jason’s blog?

  • Neil Patel

    Thanks Daniel! I will keep everyone up-to-date on the changes.

  • Mike Gale

    10% increase is counted as success. You gotta be joking.

  • Zach Katkin

    “10% increase is counted as success. You gotta be joking.”
    Mike, depending on how much traffic he already gets 10% could be huge.

  • Gronk

    Hmm maybe instead of performing your skills on Jason’s site and falling for his link-baiting you could get him to choose an unbiased 3rd party website like a charity or something that would benefit greatly from your free SEO services?

  • Bob

    Feel free to slap me silly if I am just too dense to understand this, but I dont get how this can/will prove anything. A 10% increase in traffic? Just the traffic from those looking to see what changes you make, if any, will provide that bump and Jason will be the first to point that out after the fact.
    If you want to prove the real value of SEO, at least take something that only the two of you know about and use that.

  • abhilash

    Nice work, Neil. Challenges are fun. As far as documenting goes, I’d recommend you catalog a number of the mistakes/improvements that you notice at the outset. That would be pretty interesting, (for what it’s worth), to see a hater dissected on your blog.

  • Sean Wilson

    My first hope is that some sort of site optimization will be applied to this blog so it renders correctly on all platforms. With the RSS subscription feed box (provided by Feedburner) at the top covering the post title, I’d be taking a look at my own site before making challenges.
    On the other hand, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with this.