Someone Uses the Students to Build the Website For Free!

Jul Ia
I need your advice. I have a bunch of students who are supposed to write SEO-optimized essays. My idea was to give each of the 15 topic to two students and then publish their essays on my website to let them see which one of the two performs better.
So there would be 30 blog posts about 15 different topics. Always two blog posts optimized for the same topic and keyword.
After some time I'd delete the less performing post.
My question is: Is that wise? Or am I ruining my Domain Authority (DA) or whatever? My website depends on a good performance πŸ™‚
Thank you for your help ❀️
8 πŸ‘πŸ½1 🀭9
17 πŸ’¬πŸ—¨

It's a nice way to get your money website articles written for free + faster and on deadline. Make sure your students don't find out and if you make money on that website you will open yourself to legal issues.
Truslow πŸŽ“
I think this is a fascinating idea – but I'm not sure it works on a pure performance level. A smart kid with a parent or relative who works for a company with a big web site could get one link to their post from that web site and, regardless of the content) it would most likely outrank all the other posts – at least over the short term. (And this project is likely going to need to be several months or so long at most just because of the nature of how courses in school work).
Now… what might be interesting is getting some full blown tracking on there and run some tools every few weeks over the course of the project. Now you can start to also teach them to analyze WHY a post might be doing better than another one. That one that got the link from the major web site – that teaches the value of a link. The one that is somehow managing to hang in there with only the power of links coming to it from your own site (internal links) can be assessed to see if it's the content itself or something else?
I'm not really sure what would be useful here – but I think it's a great idea for an experiment. But you can't really get value by just saying, "This one is doing better." One may rank best for the term and subject it was designed for – but the other one may get more traffic because it's also ranking for other terms. And then you need to assess of those terms are relevant/beneficial, or if that traffic has no value at all.
I definitely think it would be great learning – both in how to do it, in watching the traffic and rankings go up week to week over several months, and in analyzing and defining what "success" means. (And the answer may be different for one set of posts than it is for another set).
Sorry for the scattered thoughts here… there's a ton of potential, I think. I'm just not quite figuring out in my head exactly how to maximize that potential and make it fun, too.

Jul Ia ✍️ » Truslow
Thank you so much for your thoughts! In fact, the course will be going on for 6 more months and I wanted to let them analyse their posts over that course of time. But yes, I definitely need to think more about how to define "success". So exciting!
Truslow πŸŽ“
One thing that they should all be aware of is that this won't exactly be a fair test. Because you have two posts covering the exact same topic and trying to rank for the exact same search term and intent – Google is going to do funny things with it.
If your web site has some "clout" to it already and/or the authors take a different approach or perspective on the subject, you MIGHT get some of these to appear as double listings (with one appearing, and then the other appearing right below it slightly indented).
The other thing that is probably more likely to happen is that for the primary term, Google will pick ONE article and just not show the other one until MUCH later in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), if it all. It's not a judgement on the overall qualify here – it's just Google picking the better one and not showing the other because it is basically the same answer but with different words. (It's really the same thing as duplicate content – only it's not word for word – it amounts to the same thing). Now… the post that loses for the main term might very well rank better than the other post for similar or various variations of the search that home in on something specific that the second post does a little better. So all is not lost. BUT… it's not exactly a scenario you would normally see – and not one (except for the purposes of this test) purposely put yourself in. Students should be aware of that – that it's not exactly fair. If one starts to lose ground for the main term, it won't likely turn around and it may not really appear at all. That doesn't mean it wouldn't rank well if the first post hadn't been there blocking it.
Another idea that you could add into this is conversions and engagement. Ultimately, traffic and rankings are great, but all the site owner really cares about is that the visitor takes the action that brings them cash – buying something, booking an appointment, contacting them for more information, or something. All the traffic in the world is useless if the people don't engage and convert.
If you are using WordPress – maybe a plugin like this would be fun:
That let's the visitors rate posts. You can see if users found it useful, interesting, valuable, etc. But it also helps you see which posts are inspiring someone to take some action. Did they like it enough to get to the end and take that simple action of rating it?
This creates an interesting situation, too. The "winning" post in the other categories (traffic, rankings, bounce rate, and whatever else you are doing) may get 1000 people in a month with 1 out of 100 taking the time to rate the post. So that means that one would have 10 "sales" (or engagements) for that month. At the same time the post that is "losing" in traffic and ranking might have only 200 visits in the month, but maybe it gets 7 out of 100 people to rate it. So that means that post got 14 "sales" for the month. In the grand scheme of things now – which post is more valuable? The one that got a ton of traffic and 10 sales? Or the one that got very little traffic but that got 14 sales?
So, while the "loser" may lose in the SEO categories, it could very well be a big winner in the "Yeah, but how much engagement does it drive?" category.

I doubt you'd have time to properly track all that stuff. Certainly not within the timeframe of a standard class schedule.

Jul Ia ✍️ » Martinez
This is what I need to figure out now with them, I guess…

Sounds like a conflict of interest between the teacher and students. I don't mean to over assume but I can't see any tangible benefit to the students when you say they're "supposed to write SEO-optimized essays" which get published on your website. There's an assymetry between whatever lesson you're promising they'll learn the free, and potentially highly valuable, free content you'receiving. Not a good look, I'm sorry to say.
If you genuinely want them to learn, why not have them build their own sites and publish their own content? You can then coach them along the way if that's the intention.

Jul Ia ✍️ » Shah
This is a great idea, I think I'll go for it and furthermore add a rating plugin. Thank you for the inspiration!!


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