Last night I put the new version of the Cube Websites website live, and as part of the launch process I went through all the URLs from the old version of the site, and those which no longer existed I redirected to the most relevant URL on the new version of the site.

To do this I carried out the following steps:

  1. Crawl the old version of the site using Xenu’s Link Sleuth to get a list of all the existing URLs
  2. Crawl the new version of the site using Xenu to get a list of all the new URLs available
  3. In Excel I made a spreadsheet, where the first column contained all the old URLs, and I filled in the second column by selecting the most relevant URLs on the old site
  4. Saved the spreadsheet as a CSV file
  5. Created a rewrite rule generator to create Rewrite Rules which can be copied and pasted and pasted into a .htaccess file for the 301’s

The tool I created is now available for anyone else to use and you can find it on the 301 Rewrite Rule Generator page.

Just upload your CSV and click the Go button, within seconds you’ll have a list of 301 Rewrite Rules for your website 🙂

Two weeks ago the original David Walsh Challenge commenced.  For those that missed it, the aim was to see who could appear higher up in Google when searching for the other persons name i.e:

Search David Walsh and see Cube Websites higher up than Chachakawooka
Search Ashraf Vali and see Chahchakawooka higher up than Cube Websites
As a bonus challenge, we were also trying to see who could appear higher up when searching for “Ashraf Walsh”.

Techniques Used

Whilst there were no set restrictions on what methods we could use, we did agree that if either of us did something really over the top, then other person would win by default.

I stuck to just writing blog posts.  I wrote 2 articles, both with the terms “Ashraf Vali”, “David Walsh” and “Chachakawooka”.  By tagging my articles with those keywords I was also able to generate extra pages with WordPress based on those tags.  Once the articles were written they were submitted to Reddit and Twitter.  Within an hour of posting they’d be indexed by Google and my ranking for that search term would be updated.

David did a lot more.  He wrote a blog article, he changed the page title and footer of all 2000+ pages of his site and submitted articles to Digg, Reddit and Twitter.  By having his entire site plastered with the term he was trying to optimise for in prominent areas (page titles count a lot for Google) he blackhat-SEO’d his site to the extreme.  It would have been fair for me to call his cheating at that point, but I opted not to just to see how Google would react to his spamming.

The Results

At this point bear in mind that the initial challenge was just to see who could get higher up first. In that case the winner was me, acheiving a higher ranking for David Walsh within 24 hours of starting.

After agreeing that I’d already won, we decided to carry on a bit longer to see what happens over a period of 2 weeks.  Now that the 2 weeks are up, here’s how things changed:

When searching for David Walsh, Cube Websites appears on page 5, whereas Chachakawooka is on page 6 (was 7 this morning).  One point to me!

When searching for Ashraf Vali, Chachakawooka and Cube Websites both appear on page 1, but unfortunately Chachakawooka does appear higher up.  One point to David.

A search for “Ashraf Walsh” returns both sites, with Chachakawooka first and then Cube Websites second.

Summary

As mentioned, I won the original challenge – me and David are both agreed on that.  However, the long term results actually led to a 2-1 win for David.  This is fully understandable when you take certain factors into account:

  1. David made the modifications to his site AFTER both my blog posts.  This led to Google thinking his content is actually fresher than mine
  2. I have David Walsh in 2 page titles, and Ashraf Vali in none.  David has Ashraf Vali in one page title and David Walsh in every page title on his site.  This means beating Cube Websites for Ashraf Vali is very easy in comparison to beating Chachakawooka for David Walsh due to the fact that Chachakawooka is optimised for David Walsh whereas Cube Websites isn’t optimised for Ashraf Vali.
  3. Davids methods were only short terms measures.  Whilst my blog posts will remain on Cube Websites for the foreseeable future, he’s already changed his page titles back although his footer message is still on every page.

Final Words

The David Walsh SEO Challenge was a fun task, and we both won in our own rights.  We’ve already planned our next challenge and I’ll let you know when it starts!

Yesterday me and a colleague (David Walsh) began our SEO challenge.  In case you missed it, the aim is to see who can get their website to appear higher than the other persons, when searching for our names i.e.

Search for David Walsh and get Cube Websites to appear higher than Chachakawooka
Search for Ashraf Vali and get Chachakawooka to appear higher than Cube Websites

Yesterday, I posted my original article, and within an hour my site was on page 11 when searching for “David Walsh”.  In retalliation, David resorted to some dirty tactics, including altering all his page titles to mention my name, as well as putting a link to his blog post in his footer, with the text “Ashraf Vali”.

Despite his attempts to best me, he’s still failing.  His blog post was made last Friday, yet even 5 days later it still hasn’t even been crawled by Google (compare to mine taking less than an hour!).  The modifications to his page layout haven’t been crawled yet either.

No doubt today we’ll see some more poor techniques on his part to try and convince Google to show his site above this one for my name.  Even if he does succeed, do bear in mind that unless he maintains the changes he’s made to his site (my name in all page titles, in the footer and generally spammed across his site) his ranking for my name will drop significantly as soon as he undoes his changes.

Morning Update

Since getting so quickly indexed and appearing on page 11 for David Walsh, my blog post now doesn’t seem to be showing on Google – a matter I’m still investigating.  In the meantime, David’s own home page has slipped down from page 5 to page 6!

As well as SEO’ing each others names, we’ve agreed to extend the challenge to include “Ashraf Walsh”.  After my blog post yesterday, my website appeared on page 2 on Google for that search term – so I’ve already won on that account.

Additionally, I was playing around on Google this morning, and found that my site actually appears second when searching for “Chachakawooka”, the only site beating it being chachakawooka.com itself which is understandable really.

David Walsh (a colleague) has challenged me to see who can get their own website to appear higher on Google when searching for the other persons name i.e:

Search David Walsh => get Cube Websites
Search Ashraf Vali => get Chachakawooka

There’s no set deadline, it’s just the first person to acheive it.

Round #1

David wrote up a random blog post simply mentioning my name and Cube Websites.  That really doesn’t mean anything of course as Davids website isn’t regularly crawled by Google – his website’s basically worthless to Google.

I’ve written up this post which mentions both our names, plus my website’s crawled regularly so appearing higher up than Chachakawooka when searching for David Walsh should actually be something I can accomplish within a reasonable amount of time.

Results

Right now when searching for David Walsh, Cube Websites doesn’t appear, and vice versa for Ashraf Vali/Chachakawooka.  We’re going to continue trying new methods to boost our SEO and will keep you posted on how our websites perform.

Update

After writing this post, I’ve seen David Walsh (who’s sat next to me), sneakily updating his original post to be more up to the standards of this post.

PS: You’ll notice I’ve not linked to his website anywhere, but that’s all part of the challenge.  My website is worth a lot more to Google than his, so there’s no use wasting my SEO Juice on him – doing so would only be helping him win.

You can visit David Walsh’s website and see his updates for this challenge by searching for “Chachakawooka” and selecting the first result, or alternatively search “David Walsh”, go to about the 7th page and select “Chachakawooka”.