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How To Get Googled, By Hook Or By Crook 310

Mr. Christmas Lights writes "There is a Search Engine Optimization contest that just started up. For those that don't know about SEO, it's basically the process of optimizing a web page and links to insure a high ranking on search engine, with Google being the main search engine of interest. There are countless debates on the best approach. Note that there are 'white hat' and definitely 'black hat' methods (using the later can get you banned by Google - a risk some people seem willing to take! ;-)" Read more on this contest below.

Mr. Christmas Lights continues: "So some folks in the SEO community decided to have a 2 month contest where they made up a nonsense keyword phrase (nigritude ultramarine), and they will award a iPod and a 17" LCD (big spenders, eh?) to whoever ends up #1 in Google a month and two months from now - read more contest details at Dark Blue's SEOChallenge and follow the progress at

As you can imagine, there will be all sorts of wild web pages out there - for example, take a look at this "optimized" URL for nigritude ultramarine : e/nigritude-ultramarine.asp and I'm sure there will be plenty of other entertaining entries - you can do a Google Search yourself to see who's currently on top.

Note to Slashdot Editors: I have NOT entered the contest - buncha SEO pro's are involved and a hobbiest (at best) like me (who doesn't stray over to the dark side - I like Google! ;-) would get spanked."

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How To Get Googled, By Hook Or By Crook

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  • Hmm. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quasar1999 ( 520073 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:23PM (#9101373) Journal
    How about posting an article on slashdot? That will get you on google in no time flat!
  • by Random Web Developer ( 776291 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:23PM (#9101377) Homepage
    Are entries rejected from the contest if they are using dubious tactics? It's fairly easy to go about spamming links all over the place with the appropriate link texts and stuff like invisible text, which still aren't adequately detected.
    • I would guess the easiest way is to just let Google staff or whatever methods it employs to take care of this.

    • by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Sunday May 09, 2004 @04:19PM (#9101613) Homepage
      We might as well be discussing a rule for eliminating "dubious" entries from a contest for who can pull off the biggest stock fraud scheme.

      What comes to mind is a strip of the old comic strip "Ernie". This strip has a running gag about a local group called the "Pirhana club" which has a yearly "Pirhana of the Year" contest which is literally a yearly award to whichever of the members can be the biggest sleazeball.

      There's one character in the strip named "Uncle Sid" who wins the contest every year. He's just that much of an asshole.

      One year, as the Pirhana of the Year award approached, the strip chronicled various members of the club working overtime to get the award. Sid, though, did nothing, just sitting in the bar, oblivious and drinking while the other members of the club bragged to him about how they were certain to win this year.

      And on the strip on the day of the award ceremony, the readers were shown various members of the club around the room, explaining to the person next to them why they're certain they're going to win. A member of the city council brags about demanding kickbacks from an orphanage to retain their funding. A doctor brags about defrauding patients by charging them for surgery he anesthesised them for but did not perform for nonexistent ailments. A used car salesman brags about selling a set of totally nonfunctional cars to a nunnery. And as the announcer calls out "THE WINNER.. IS.. SID", the camera pans to Uncle Sid explaining to Ernie that he stuffed the ballot box.

      The next strip simply showed the other lead contenders confronting Sid and demanding to know, "How did you win? What did you do?" And Sid responds, "I cheated. I stuffed the ballot box and bribed the judges."

      The disheartened response, after a brief pause was "Damn, you're good."
  • by aenters ( 769982 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:24PM (#9101378)
    Nobody cares about the rankings on froogle. Poor google.
  • by bigben7187 ( 754240 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .yrrehcb.> on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:24PM (#9101383) Homepage
    The current 3rd result showcases the "Nigritude Ultramarine Fighting Force" who are "doing our part for the department of homeland security." Actually, I suspect they might be even more capable than said department...
  • I'm sure their techniques will cause google to make such tricks harder in the future. Many of you are familiar with people creating nonsense link pages to drive their own rating up and the various things google put in place to make this harder. Now they need a contest on how to get delisted, I still have a domain name that hasn't been used in 3 years that is in google.
  • a new topic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dreadlord ( 671979 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:25PM (#9101385) Journal
    This is the very first story in the Google topic [] BTW.
    • With about 12 stories a day on the subject, about time.

      Note to worldwide media: It's a search engine, yes it has a colorful logo, but get back to your news and stuff.
  • dear me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mr_tommy ( 619972 ) * <tgraham@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:25PM (#9101386) Journal
    It surely is a nice project with some very fancy prizes, but has anyone thought of what Google's response is going to be?! Wham! Thanks for telling us the techniques to beat our own system guys - we'll now be altering it so that this is no longer a problem. :S
    • Re:dear me (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ralph Yarro ( 704772 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:29PM (#9101418) Homepage
      Good. Firstly, it improves the Google results. Secondly, it makes the next competition more challenging. What's the downside?
      • not to mention: what's the difference? Google already tweaks to penalize any abuse of their system. Their business depends on delivering the best links from the user's point of view.
      • Re:dear me (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mar1boro ( 189737 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @04:17PM (#9101604) Homepage
        I can think of a couple of downsides.
        1) They used a _real_ word for the contest. Ultramarine may not be common,
        but this will eventually fubar legitimate searches. A random string would
        have been a better measure.
        2) This is a contest being run by an Ad-Company so that they can glean the
        best techniques for getting their ads in the first 3 pages on a Google
        search. Nothing more.
    • Re:dear me (Score:2, Redundant)

      My guess is that the whole contest is sponsored behind-the-scenes by Google so they can see what methods the black-hats (and to a lesser degree, the white-hats) are using. Makes it a whole lot easier.
  • by James A. O. Joyce ( 777976 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:25PM (#9101388)
    But I think I ought to raise a problem with Google, which this contest simply serves to underline: Google is too easily gamed. After all, just take a look at what the bloggers have done for the phrase "miserable failure". All it takes is an aggrieved group [] of a couple of dozen individuals and they can push anything up the ranks of Google. It's not that hard to knock someone's rank down by a bit just by getting a bunch of people to delink them. When Google recaches, their rank falls...
    • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:40PM (#9101463)
      But "miserable failure" was easily subverted because it's not a particularly interesting phrase in the first place. I'd be much more convenced if you managed to make your personal blog come up as the #1 hit for "news."

      Still, I'm no fan of the competition this story is about. It's no more or less than a competition to find ways to lessen the usefulness of the Web by giving more power to "spammers" (in the loose sense of the word).

  • Advertising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ghack ( 454608 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:27PM (#9101398)
    Dark Blue being an advertising agent...surely the techniques of the winner will end up in some sort of ad scheme...
    • Re:Advertising (Score:3, Interesting)

      by popirate ( 778348 )
      Are the winners required to share their techniques to claim the prize? Or will the winners themselves end up getting offers in exchance for their services...
      • Are the winners required to share their techniques to claim the prize?

        The winners' pages are going to be ranked, indexed, and cached by Google. My question is, how would they avoid sharing their techniques? (Even if they block Google from caching, they've still got to leave their web pages up until the end of the contest...)

  • This [] should be obligatory reading, followed by this []. It's amazing how many people are paying search engine optimizers to tell them what these links says.
    • Sweet! Now I can quit my day job and be a search engine optimizer guy... Thanks for providing me with all the info I need to seperate thousands of people trying to be the 'next big thing' on the web from their money! :)

      Seriously, I am sure at least 10 people will try and use the info in your links to rip someone off... it's a sad fact... but it's a fact.
  • by Eponymous Cowboy ( 706996 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:29PM (#9101413)
    Wouldn't it be just hilarious if this Slashdot article actually made it to #1 on Google for nigritude ultramarine and stuck there?

    Who gets the prize money then? :-D

    Everybody, link back here []!

  • How they do it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by caluml ( 551744 ) <slashdot&spamgoeshere,calum,org> on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:31PM (#9101425) Homepage
    The main secret is to search for a certain phrase, and then analyse the top results. This tells you things such as if the phrase boldened up to 3 times in the page helps, but maybe, for example, if it is boldened more than 3 times, it isn't counted so effectively. The title, the META tags, the page, H1-5 tags, bold etc, all count. But you have to work out how many you can put before Google thinks you're just trying to boost your ratings.
    • Re:How they do it. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nsingapu ( 658028 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @05:39PM (#9101938) Homepage
      The main secret is to search for a certain phrase, and then analyse the top results. This tells you things such as if the phrase boldened up to 3 times in the page helps, but maybe, for example, if it is boldened more than 3 times, it isn't counted so effectively. The title, the META tags, the page, H1-5 tags, bold etc, all count. But you have to work out how many you can put before Google thinks you're just trying to boost your ratings.

      That is a load of nonsense. Studying the page in question shows you "on page" factors, and on page factors are only one part of the manner in which google determines results (and very arguable an almost trivial part at that).

      You dont need to see why a phrase is in top position at the moment - as there is one factor that trumps all - anchortext (the text used as the link). Competitive phrases like search engine optimization [] and their allinanchor counterparts [] demonstrate this quite throughly, for any competitive phrase there is a very high corelation between anchor text and the results. Designing a site to get good search results at the moment involve desiging a site that uses internal links effectively and getting external links to your site - messing with on page factors (for a single page) will get you nowhere.
  • Hack the contest! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:31PM (#9101426) Journal
    Hack the contest. Googlebomb "nigritude ultramarine" to 7 . That's this article, stripped of all the other crap.

    I'm planning on doing it, and I'm not a Google monster, but I'm not a Google slouch either; I have a pretty decent amount of Google juice for a one-man site.

    Note that mostly likely, links from Slashdot to Slashdot won't count any, so no point in linking in comments here.
  • Phew... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hobbex ( 41473 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:34PM (#9101440)
    It is a good thing that no google engineers read, and that even if they did, they would never want to mess up a competition between people who professionally abuse their service regarding who is best at it...

    If I were google, I would wait until the day before the deadline and then link the top hit for nigritude ultramarine [] to

    In fact, to help them, I suggest that everybody who thinks that "SEO pros" are a life form somewhere below pond-scum and above spammers, ought to help them. nigritude ultramarine [].

  • I suppose... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oGMo ( 379 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:36PM (#9101449)
    I suppose doing something legitimate... like selling a successful product with this name attached... is out of the question? ;-P
  • I like the ads (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sploo22 ( 748838 )
    A few of the ads that Google found to be relevant:

    Need Search Engine Help?
    The Definitive SEO Resource

    Sounds like a conflict of interest to me.
  • Is it just me or does the name nigritude ultramarine seem a little racially suspect. hmmmmm?
    • Re:Just an aside... (Score:3, Informative)

      by tverbeek ( 457094 )
      It's an archaic term for "the state of being black". It's an odd choice, and you could draw all sorts of inferences based on our society's connections between "black" and the concepts of "profit", "evil", "African", "ink", and even "smithee". But sometimes and odd word is just an odd word.
  • by KalvinB ( 205500 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:41PM (#9101472) Homepage
    and I'm the second result. There's no secret for getting ranked high when your web-site doesn't suck. You just let Google do its thing.

    "DirectX SDKs" and I'm on the first page of results. Although it's going to the Distribution section (pay per CD) instead of the SDK download section which is free access.

    "Digital Black Market" also gets me a spot in the top 20. I used to be ranked higher on that one.

    Before the site wide overhaul I was ranked 2nd when searching for "Driver Library" but if you're looking for a specific file and I have it, I'll get a top ranking.

    Google is currently reindexing my site. It'll probably be another month or so before everything is indexed as well as it was before. Last check there was about a half a million files on the web-site.

    Domain, directory, file name, content is about the general chain of importance for getting a high ranking.

    • indeed... my site has some pretty interesting top ranks, that i have noticed...

      *'edjumacated' the name of one of the members, is top ranked.
      *'shold gay marriage be legalized' is number 3
      *'controversial pictures of iraq' with regards to the flags over coffins, is ranked second.

      Nothing rediculously impressive, except that site) has only been up in its current form since mid January. Quite an impressive jump to the top.
      • There's huge numbers of sports handicapping sites out there, and the people who run them (besides me, of course...) tend to be scumbag scammers who like to manipulate google rankings.

        However, for a few search terms I'm in the top 100 after only a couple of months of not doing much of anything.

  • you know, regardless of attempts to game the system, if every slashdot reader just linked to this slashdot story from their respective websites, then Slashdot would win easily with a standard PageRank. No amount of gaming the system can overtake sheer force of numbers. It's like the Howard Dean approach to raising money :)

    I'm adding the following HTML link to my websites:

    nigritude ultramarine []

    join me! and Slashdot shall prevail!

    • Assuming that the PageRank formula is completely based on total numbers, then you are correct. But based on the fact that it's called a formula, I would guess that there's more to the ranking than just the total number of links to a particular site. With this being the case, your statement that gaming the system cannot overcome raw numbers is incorrect.

      For instance, and this is just to prove a point, let's say the PageRank formula counts a link from and as equivalent to 1,000 links from a

  • "Optimization" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:46PM (#9101490)
    I hate that phrase. It's typical marketing-speak.

    The whole point of a "search engine" from day one was to help connect people with what they are looking for. To that end, the HTML "META" tag was invented, so that you could give keywords relevant to what your page is about.

    Enter the marketing scumbags. They just want as many eyeballs to see a page, whether it's relevant or not. And so, in short time, the META tag became completely meaningless. It wouldn't surprise me at all if Google ignores the META tag completely.

    And so Google started checking links, because if somebody links to some page, it's probably useful.

    Cue the marketing scumbags again. Tons of fake pages with fake links, all intended to fool the search engine.

    And so they keep trying to find new ways to fuck around with Google and all us people who just want to find what WE want rather than what some marketer wants.

    And in typical marketing scumbag fashion, they call this let's-screw-google nonsense "optimization".

    God I hate marketers. They're worse scum than lawyers, pimps and pushers IMNSHO.

    • please mod this up into high heaven. I'm not sure about the lawyer bit though :)
    • by silentbozo ( 542534 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @04:58PM (#9101769) Journal
      Having worked with marketers, I often wonder how they sleep at night. Do they deliberately disregard the common good? Have they managed to convince themselves that they are necessary, and even a good? Or are they playing a zero-sum game - "Well, if I don't screw everybody else over, someone else will do it anyways, so I might as well reap the rewards."

      In olden days, these kinds of people would have been dealt with by:

      1. Tarring and feathering.
      2. Being tied to a rail and getting run out of town.
      3. Being thrown in a boat without paddles and left to drift downstream.

      It's only in today's society, where these vermin have so many targets of opportunity (and the veil of apparent anonymity) that they can thrive, and not be thrown out. Even worse, it's only in today's society that these vermin can band together, hire lawyers and lobbyists, and start dictating to the rest of us, what we can do and what we can't do. The Do Not Call list was a good counter-blow, but they're still out there, degrading useful services like Google and e-mail for the rest of us...
      • It is a zero-sum game - there are only so many consumer dollars out there that can be spent. That is called "disposable income". The rest is what you live on.

        Marketing and sales are all about how to get you to spend you disposable income in one place vs. somewhere else. If you buy stuff at Wal-Mart, then the folks at Target have failed. Being a failure sucks. Kmart has found this out the hard way - they are practically out of business.

        So, without marketing and sales at all everyone's disposable incom
  • I had a similar(read: identical) contest going on my website two weeks ago! This [] thread shows how i tried to link Vector Desist to my website, just for the hell of it. Oh well. This contest did 2 things better though... They did it as a true competition, while we did it just on our own website. And second, there words are more non-sensical, so you don't have to compete with existing page rankings
  • I sense a disturbing over-dependence on Google. If they turn to the dark side (& it's bound to happen), where we will go next?

    I used to like hotbot before they got eaten by Lycos. They used Inktomi's engine, which I think MSN licensed for a while.

    nlsearch had cool features, but died out. (I think they sell their engine for enterprise use at

    altavista was cool when it was run by DEC (which got ate by Compaq, which was swallowed by HP).


  • nigritude (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mantorp ( 142371 ) <mantorp 'funny A'> on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:53PM (#9101519) Homepage Journal
    It's gotten to the point that any word beginning with "nig" sounds racist to me. The word niggardly has gotten several people in hot water the last few years.
  • by rduke15 ( 721841 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .51ekudr.> on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:59PM (#9101540)
    the famous Weapons of Mass Destruction [].
  • I am the champion title holder there.


    The funny thing is I have no idea how I got there.
    • I had some search terms for that come up in my site stats last month. I tracked it down to a user on my forums who posted a link to Microsoft's support site that fixed something simple, and he linked the text with "morons click here." So now when you search for that term, Microsoft is the first entry.

  • "Did you mean to search for: negritude ultramarine"

  • the good part: the winner will be very much in demand (as a SEO consultant)

    the bad part: there will be even more crappy Google results (we should give Teoma [] a chance, since it can't be spammed as easily using links on irrelevant pages)

  • Here's how to do it (Score:2, Informative)

    by arekusu ( 159916 )
    1) make a web page.
    2) get people to link to it, with the query words in the link.
    3) lots of people.

    For example, google for "monkeys".
    Top hit: (my band)

    Now if you look at that page, "monkeys" only shows up FOUR times in the source: the page name, the meta keyword, an IMG ALT tag, and the email.

    Now google for "battle cry".
    Top hit: the blog meme Chaz wrote that LINKS TO OUR SITE WITH THE WORD "MONKEYS".

    561823649174 bloggers linking to you = top google position.
  • comes moronic results. look at the first page for their phone word now... here []
  • We've been trying numerous optimizations to win the #1 spot for 'science forums'... but oddly enough we kept losing to sites were often not even directly relevant to the query. Eventually we brought in some optimizations just to the pages of the site to bring things up.
    Well, we now have the number one spot... but since we did nothing as far as increasing mentions on the other sites, the question arises how of how much weight Google really puts on external references to your site.
  • by ctwxman ( 589366 ) <> on Sunday May 09, 2004 @05:11PM (#9101817) Homepage
    This technique of gaming is also a technique akin to spamming. I maintain a blog on my website (I want a higher rank too). It's a small affair averaging 400-500 guests a day, each looking at a few pages. I know that Google results are the single biggest referrer to my site! But sites with no legitimate traction know that Google can work for them too. So, every day or so, I get 'comment spam.' An automated system will hit my site with a comment. The comment, of course, includes his URL. Sometimes the comments are obviously commercial (usually porn or drugs), but often they are socially engineered to blend in. These would include comments like: "I couldn't agree with you more." or "Nice point." Again, these innocuous posts are accompanied by porn or drug URLs. Most of the time they come from Russian IP addresses. Though I don't post those who link to my site, others do... and so I often see what look like referrals in my log, from porn sites. Following the link back shows I wasn't mentioned at all (Let's not talk about my career in adult films). Google rank has become so valuable that these businesses on the margin of legitimacy probably feel they have no other choice if they wish to be found. Damn shame.
  • by xmas2003 ( 739875 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @05:14PM (#9101831) Homepage
    HEY ... my submission actually got accepted - that's a first! ;-)

    As alluded in the "Note to Slashdot Editors" (thought they would prune that), I first want to emphasize I have NO relationships with the folks running this content - I just think it is hilarious, although it will certainly provide some insights into how Google works, and we'll see all sorts of whacky things from the SEO pro's - again, I am not one of 'em.

    Second, I hadn't thought about Slashdot ranking 1st for the contest as some have suggested - now that would be a crackup! Unfortunately, Slashdot won't allow you to place in IMG tag in a post (a requirement of the contest is a small image on the page), plus I'm not a member of the SearchGuild, so I'm not elgible ... maybe Cmdr Taco or Timothy need an iPod and/or 17" LCD - go for it! ;-)

    Third, you know the folk at Google have gotten wind of this contest, and if I were them, I'd put a link on the main page to their own nigritude ultramarine page. I.e. Google should NOT tinker with their algorithms, but with a link from their PR10 main page, that certainly should shoot 'em up in the rankings. I gotta wonder if the pre-IPO Google would do this - we'll see with the "new" Google ;-)

    Fourth, I appreciate some of the comments from folks about my Christmas Lights [] and the Christmas Webcam [] with webcontrol (yes, you can turn the lights ON and OFF via the web) which actually been on Slashdot before - in fact, you can read my Slashdot Effect Analysis [] from last year. I assure you it should be MUCH more interesting this year, as due to some multi-threaded optimizations, I think I'll be able to reduce the throttle from minimum 5-second updates to 1-second updates. I'm going to have to be REALLY NICE to my neighbors, 'cause it will be quite the flickering light show in December/2004 ... although I usually fire it up for a test-run in October as part of my Halloween Decorations and Lights. []


    P.S. One thing slight off-topic is the Google Compute project [] which I thought I mention to those Slashdotters with idle CPU time that want to help the Stanford Folding@Home project [] - this really is a good cause.

  • I'm not a member of the silly SEO guild, but all my Nigritude Ultramarine [] can be yours! I have started an auction on eBay - anybody who seriously wants to win can pay me $1 (or whatever it comes to), and in return I will give them a few hundred links from my reasonably well-ranked sites.

    You shall have my sword... I will fight for your honor!

  • by Felinoid ( 16872 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @05:44PM (#9101968) Homepage Journal
    One easy way to grab attention is to intentionally inject commen spelling errors into your webpage.
    I don't recomend this. As easy and as tempting as it is Google feeds the correct spelling.

    On that note I do get the highest ranking for "Linux Destro" A mispelling of Linux Distro (Not for long.. Noticed the error and plan to fix it.)

    Now for a funny.. Take a look at the winner for the correct spelling.
    It's not RedHat.
  • netster! []
    He seems to be at the top of all of my searches.
  • In line with their "Don't be evil" motto, Google should secretly fund a contest like this...and then program in defences against all the effective techniques!
  • Wish I knew how (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WebMasterJoe ( 253077 ) <joe@joestoner.c3.1415926om minus pi> on Sunday May 09, 2004 @07:15PM (#9102407) Homepage Journal
    I had (and still have, actually) an accidental top result for "Peter Griffin" in the image search. I never linked to or used the image outside a photoshop contest, and it wasn't even that good - it was the cartoon character Peter Griffin (from Family Guy) with Merv Griffin's face.

    After I found out about my top placement, I started watching my log files and I was surprised to see how many messageboards have linked the image. Most of the image linking was pointless - just somebody found the image and linked directly to it, with no explanation of why it was applicable. Weird.

"Consequences, Schmonsequences, as long as I'm rich." -- "Ali Baba Bunny" [1957, Chuck Jones]