How To Rank For Keywords No One Is Searching For

To understand the context of this post, please see The Short Happy Career of OES from SEOSkeptic

I’m not entirely sure why I made the bet.  Perhaps it was scotch, or perhaps it was because I always enjoyed messing with the Googles, but I accepted the challenge none-the-less.

Aaron Bradley was visiting from Montreal and we had met up with Dave Dandy, aspiring solo artist and SEO, to catch up on old times at one of Aaron’s old haunts on Denman St in Vancouver.  I ranted about how much I distain SEO, and all the tedium therein, as well as playing in bands, and all the tedium therein.  I had recently met the love of my life in Toronto, and was contemplating a cross country move, and somehow that translated into who could rank higher for the term “hottest toronto band”.  Wasn’t sure why then…  still not sure why now, but I stumbled home with a sense of determination to find the best way to beat Aaron Bradley, my teacher and SEO mentor, at search engine optimization.  Later that night, while lying in bed, I discovered the secret to how I would win…

I cheated.

You see, Aaron and I made an agreement that we couldn’t register domains for the bet, so no one could quickly go home and get “”, so I simply used a PR2 site I already created that was home to mp3 versions of my entire recorded library.  To make it even more unfair, I used the page for my pseudo-fictitious band “The Ontario Power Generation”, and pointed one link from a PR7 site that (at the time) didn’t nofollow their outbound links.   After that, in true lazy fashion, I did little else.

Aaron, on the other hand, had created an entirely fictional (and hilarious) band called OES, with mountains of content.  He inevitably dominated the SERPS, but could never push (my site) away from the top 5 results.  Whenever Aaron would push the domain down, I’d throw another link at it.  No “fresh updated content”, no “useful information”.  The site was built off Drupal and still had the stupid “?q=34” url structure.  I didn’t utilize a single traditional SEO technique.  If I had to audit it, I’d have ripped my site to shreds.

In the end we called it a draw, but in my opinion, Aaron was the real winner.  He gained some pretty accurate insight into image search optimization techniques, among other things.  To this day whenever someone asks me how SEO works, I tell them to do an image search for “hottest toronto band” to watch them marvel at the top result… a brick wall.

So, what is the lesson we can take from all this?

Content is king?  Well, sort of…
SEO is all about links?  Well, sort of…

The real lesson… the secret to understanding how to win at search engine optimization…


Note: About a year ago, I changed the context of the site and made it my iPhone/Web development portfolio, and to this day I’m still on page #1 in for “hottest toronto iPhone“.

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4 Responses to How To Rank For Keywords No One Is Searching For

  1. If link building is cheating then we’re all in a lot of trouble. Well, except SEOs that either can’t or won’t build links anyway, but they’re probably in some trouble too.

    One can always quibble over how legitimate any given link placement might or might not be, but certainly the sort of links you were building aren’t outside the norm of the sort of links that are built every day by search marketers. And there’s obviously nothing wrong with linking from pointing one site you own to another site you own (can you file a spam report on yourself for linking with the purpose of passing on PageRank?).

    “The Ontario Power Generation” isn’t 100% real? But I just, like, made the band cookies.

    • Keith says:

      Yes, strategic placement is a legitimate strategy, but real link builders do more than look for “dofollow” sites… and I’m no link builder!

      To bring it full circle though, the theme song for “SEO Cooking” originated from an Ontario Power Generation tune that Colleen re-mixed.. so you didn’t just make cookies, you made tasty tidbits of kitchen advice, delicious recipes, and scrumptious search engine optimization strategies and techniques.

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