v7n’s John Scott on SEO Contests, Blogs & Branding
John Scott and v7n.com have turned the search engine optimization world on its heels with their v7ndotcom contest which has reached beyond the traditional followers of SES speakers & link worshippers and into the blogosphere and main stream media. The contest was featured in the Wall Street Journal yesterday and if you perform a search for “v7ndotcom elursrebmem” in Google you’ll see that almost 3,000,000 sites/pages/documents are indexed for the term.
Without going into too much detail of v7ndotcom elursrebmem, v7n put together $4,000 as a reward for the web site which will rank #1 for the fictional term in Google (contest rules here). Then Greg Boser, Mike Grehan and Todd Friesen coughed up some money as well with alternate requirements for winning the contest. The result is a $7,000 grab bag for the web publisher who plays their cards right.
So, if $4,000 (or $7,000) is enought to turn the SEO world upside down and attract the eyes of the world to terms such as cloaking, white hat, black hat and Watching Paint Dry… what would it take to cast a similar ripple effect in the blogosphere?
I spoke with Mr. Scott this week about v7n, the contest, his blog, branding and Polynesian coconuts. Enjoy.
Loren Baker : First off, what does v7n mean?
John Scott : You’ve got me there. That’s like asking what IBM means. Or CNN or AT & T. It’s a mystery.
But seriously, unlike those acronyms which actual stand for something, V7 is simply the combination of one favorite number and my favorite letter.
It’s something we did to create a more brandable name for the network we operate.
Loren Baker : I’ve been checking out your Internet Marketing Blog recently and I hear you’re new to blogging. Where the hell have you been for the past 2 years boy!?!
John Scott :I don’t know, boss. I never saw myself as an active blogger, but the format is awesome and I’m loving it.
Unlike forums, my blog allows for less noise and more signal. The quality of discussion seems to be better overall, and writing blog posts tends to make me write more thought-out posts than forum posting.
Loren Baker : Have you ever spoken at a Search Engine Conference and who would you like to share a panel with if you did?
John Scott : I don’t see myself speaking at any search engine conferences. There are a couple reasons for that.
First, if I have something to say, I usually say it on my forums or on my blog. I don’t believe in holding onto nuggets of information only to disclose them at some conference where people have to pay for admission.
Secondly, I am the closest thing to Anti SEO that I know of. For years I’ve been preaching marketing and brand building as opposed to obsessing over search engine rankings.
If I did speak at a conference, it would simply be to tell folks to forget Google and build a legitimate brand. We all know those are few and far between on the Internet.
As for speakers, Aaron Wall and Patrick Gavin kick ass. Those two I can enthusiastically recommend.
Loren Baker : What has been the effect of the v7ndotcom contest on your network/forums?
John Scott : Well, it’s definitely increased awareness of the V7 community. It has increased the fun factor in SEO and helped the forums out nicely.
Loren Baker : Like loads of others, I read the write up on v7n in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Did you expect for the contest to become this popular?
John Scott : The contest has been better than I could have ever expected. I seriously did not expect it to become the largest SEO contest in the history of the sport, but it has, and our traffic continues to grow.
The controversy surrounding the competition surely helped it get the publicity that it did, and in one way I am thankful for the controversy. But really I don’t like the negative energy that a lot of folks have put into the competition, but it appears we have moved past that so I’m happy.
Loren Baker : So, when the v7n buzz drops off do you have anything else up your sleeves? What’s this I hear about you itching to give away $10K? Who do you think you are? Monty Brewster?
John Scott : Om my gosh. Blast from the past. You are old. How many people actually remember Monty Brewster?
I think the blogging world needs to be shaken up an bit, and my $10,000 challenge will aim at doing just that. Or maybe it’s just an evil link baiting stunt. Either way somebody’s getting paid.
As for v7n, we are working on adding new features to the site to enhance the usefulness of it and will be doing some aggressive ad campaigns once those features are up and running.
Loren Baker : Have you finalized the $10K challenge yet? Can you give any more details for the Interview?
The announcement will be made on my blog on March 1st, and it will be with the intention of messing with the social order of the blogosphere. That’s all I can say now.
Loren Baker : Which sites that have entered the v7n contest have shocked you the most? Any big names or odd sites you wouldn’t expect gunning for the prize?
John Scott : I personally like reading the comments people post on their blogs about the contest. Some people are genuinely creative, and those are the best entries.
But most of the entries are written for search engines, and that is somewhat of a disappointment. A year from now those entries will not have any linkage and will be gone from the SERPs, while the creative entries will still be earning traffic.
The two that I am keeping my eyes on are GrayWolf’s and Hulkster’s. Yes, I do prefer that the winnings go to charity.
Loren Baker : I’m living in Japan right now and you grew up here. Where’s the best place to get a steak in Tokyo?
John Scott : Forget steak. I’d go for the Polynesian Pub Tiki Tiki in Shibuya. Great food and great drinks, with girls dancing about with coconut halves on their, um, chest.
Loren Baker : What is the secret to keeping such an active group at v7nforums? I mean, between Sketch, Colleen and Nin10do…. they must have written thousands of postings!
John Scott : Usually people reference the forums for the friendliness. I believe that we as a community are a kind, understanding and sincere community. Looking at how the senior members treat the other members, respectful is the word that comes to mind.
It’s not my fault the forums are successful. The senior members like Ferre and G10 are the ones who kept it alive even in my absence.
It’s got to say something about the forum when the longest threads are about circumcision and beer.
Loren Baker : I’m not too familiar with SevenSeek, your web directory which you sell links in. What is it’s traffic like? If a site buys a listing in it will they attract humans to their site, or is the idea to attract robots?
John Scott : The traffic to SevenSeek is less than spectacular. The only benefit of having of a listing, in my opinion, is in the link pop.
Loren Baker : Any quick tips you’d like to give a newbie in SEO?
John Scott : Stop worrying about search engine rankings. Build your brand. Be genuinely useful, credible and legitimate. Be the best at what you do, and you will create your own search terms.
Loren Baker : Thanks John, good to speak with you.
John Scott : Later!