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On May 7, 2004, Dark Blue, an Internet Affiliate Network, started a SEO Challenge; at the end of a month, the winner gets an iPod, and after 2 months, the winner gets a 17 inch monitor.

What did one have to do to win these prizes? Simple; The phrase "Nigritude Ultramarine" (Which is a latin phrase meaning Dark Blue, the sponsoring company,) had 0 matches on Google as of May 6th. Whoever's page was the top search result for the phrase, on Google, wins.

In 13 days, the 4th most frequent search on the web was for the phrase "Nigritude Ultramarine". At one point, there were over half a million hits for the phrase with Google. Pages in Spanish, Greek, Norwegian, Japanese, and French appeared with the phrase, and The Wall Street Journal published an article on it.

The goal of the contest was to show how one can optimize a web site to be very high up on various search engines ranking, and to publicize the company, Dark Blue. The winner, Anil Dash, won through completely aboveboard means; He asked people to link to his site, and people "advertised" for him on many popular forums using links to his page with the phrase. This strategy beat out many other contestants who use proactive rigging, with page naming and buying namespace in many forums.

The attitude of many contestants can be summed up neatly, as Vijay, a contestant put it; "Some tactics might be aggressive but I don't care, after all this is a competition right?" The response, by Anil Dash, was a sentiment appreciated by many watchers;

"I suspect, though, that those of us who've made content even when there weren't bribes involved have an advantage. For all the back-and-forth about how Google is or isn't evil, the end result of PageRank is that it's a hell of a lot more work to fake your way into being a top result than it is to just have high ranking as a fringe benefit of just being a person who loves writing. That's a good thing.
So, in order to prove that real content trumps all the shady optimization tricks that someone can figure out, and because I figure I deserve an iPod at least as much as the Star Wars Kid, I'm entering the contest. Do me a favor: Link to this post with the phrase Nigritude Ultramarine. I'd rather see a real blog win than any of the fake sites that show up on that search result right now."


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