Millions of people around the world use Wix, but we know not everyone’s a fan. Especially amongst the SEO community, which has doubted the capability of Wix sites to rank well. That’s why last year we consulted with SEO experts to bridge these gaps and in May 2018 released advanced SEO tools for a more professional user base.
To prove that SEO experts could use these tools to produce great results, we challenged real Wix SEO lovers and haters to put our tools to the test in a six-month long competition coined, “Wix SEO Battle.” Both teams had to create content and optimize their sites to rank higher for the search query, “Wix SEO.” The team that ranked higher by the final date of the competition, December 19, 2019 would take home $25K and the runner-up $10K.
The competition’s judge, SEO expert Lukasz Zelezny checked the Google SERP live on Twitter and officially announced the winners on December 19, 2019 at 12:00 p.m. EST. The scoreboard: “Wix SEO Lovers,” Marie Hanes Consulting ranking 30th and the “Haters,” Liquid Interactive, ranking 60th.
“We were thrilled to emerge victorious in the recent Wix SEO competition,” said Alec Brownscombe, Senior SEO Analyst and Project Lead from Marie Haynes Consulting. “The MHC team had a blast and learned a lot throughout this competition.”
Wix SEO Battle as a learning experience
Learning was a major reason why Marie Haynes Consulting entered the SEO competition. It was a great opportunity to test the platform and tools and try SEO experiments they may not have been bold enough to try on clients. Some newer staffers had never built a website before, and the contest gave them the chance to do just that and learn how to raise the site’s ranking from zero.
The desire to learn also prompted the agency to take the lover’s side. In a post-competition interview with us, Marie said that while they knew of some negative perceptions of Wix in the SEO community, “we also knew they had been working on lots of improvements.”
“We were all very curious about the improvements,” said Alec. “We wanted to dig in and see for ourselves, and we were definitely impressed by a number of them.”
As they did, Alec was struck by how easy it was for inexperienced staffers to handle the platform and its SEO tools. “Our staff was able to take care of a lot of the SEO due to the platform’s ease of use and out-of-the-box SEO capabilities.”
Counting on content to win SEO competition
As they dove into the six-month competition, Alec said the “Wix SEO Lovers’” basic strategy was to load their new site with strong, original content that would be helpful for their target audience. “There’s no reason for anybody to come to our site in the first place if we didn’t have good content.”
Critical to building up the site’s ranking was to engage visitors by establishing their expertise, authority and trust (known as EAT). “Google has always emphasized those things,” Marie said, “but we knew that in the last couple of years they’d created algorithms to measure them even better.”
To create content that strengthened those qualities, Alec said he and the co-leader on the project, Summar Bourada, participated in online discussions and reached out to Wix users to learn their needs and desires. They focused on devising more ways to “get eyeballs on the site,” such as leveraging MarieHaynes.com and the popularity of its Search News You Can Use newsletter and podcast, which helped drive traffic, build links, and increase engagement on WixSEOLovers.com.
All the while, they worked hard to raise awareness of their new site, sharing their story on social media, with local journalists, and even at the colleges they’d attended. Alec said that was all part of the strategy. “We did all that outreach to get authoritative links and mentions so we could get our site on the map in terms of ranking.”
The battle came down to the final hours
The competition was tight, but what gave WixSEOLovers.com the edge was a dynamic surge of promotions during the final two days of the competition. The contest had lasted nearly half a year, but both sides knew the winner would be decided at literally the last second. With only 48 hours to go, the “Wix SEO Lovers” made a big push to generate a spike in social, referral, and organic traffic with the idea that increased engagement, more links, and a surge in clicks would manifest itself in ranking higher as Google picked up on these signals.
The Wix SEO Lovers’ strategy included:
Putting up fresh content and sharing it with several Facebook groups related to Wix, small businesses and SEO
Encouraging friends, family, and members of online communities to search Wix SEO and find their site in the SERP
Promoting the site in the final Marie Haynes Consulting newsletter of 2019 and enticing users to click on the Wix SEO link and engage with the site
The most creative engagement tactic was a Christmas-themed scavenger hunt offering free MHC newsletter subscriptions to winners. Visitors looked for a dozen GIFs of John Mueller, famed Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, scattered throughout the site. This enticed visitors to spend more time on site, engaging with dozens of pages, and contributing to a quick rise in the ranks as the contest wrapped up.
“We had a thousand times our usual traffic on that day,” said Alec, “and we jumped about 30 rankings in the last day or two.”
According to Marie, some of the tactics aren’t suited for long-term ranking growth, but they worked beautifully for the contest finale. “We always recommend that people focus on things that keep users and visitors engaged with their website, like a quiz or a video.”
Lessons learned from the “Wix SEO Lovers’” victory
“It’s very impressive the way you can create a cool website that looks really great without a lot of experience,” said Marie. “We didn’t run across many of the issues that people in the SEO community think Wix has in terms of SEO. There’s still room for improvement, but I think it’s a good platform overall.”