This is a guest post by the creator of the SEO game oap.ninja, Dean Cruddace.
First, a little background…
Why an SEO Challenge?
oap.ninja was setup on the back of a brief conversation on Google+. Google+ is place where content goes to die.
I’m kidding! There are still some amazing communities with some really smart brains kicking about on there, although I still think Google+ is playing a game of catch-up and figuring out what it wants to be.
The brief conversation was around the new gTLDs (Generic Top Level Domains) that were popping up with more and more frequency (somewhere around 1,300+ available variations when I last checked). A little more about the why over on Google+.
My reason for buying one (a gTLD) turned into trying to hide the hell out of everything and seeing what actually was being indexed.
This then turned into a game somehow, I don’t know why. SEOs are weird like that. I just went with the flow and it turned into an SEO challenge.
The walkthrough of oap.ninja v3
Along the way there were scattered letters to collect, nine in total spread across various documents and resources, here they all are in brief;
- oap.ninja/robots.txt – Letter: D – (next clue was to find the image directory)
- oap.ninja/images/ – Letter: O – (next clue was hidden in Philip Gamble’s IPTC IIM within the his image file)
- oap.ninja/burp/ – Letter: E – (next clue involved figuring out what the most used word in the spun text was)
- oap.ninja/semantic/ – Letter: S – (next clue was hidden in the HTTP Header canonical tag pointing to the letter R)
- oap.ninja/seRp/ – Letter: A – (Next clue was in the URL “R”)
- oap.ninja/R/ – This URL redirected to /whiterabbit after passing through /hreflang
- oap.ninja/whiterabbit/ – (password was hidden in the middle of the redirect hop (HREFLANG)
- oap.ninja/whiterabbit/index.php – (next clue asked for the lead singer of The Doors)
- oap.ninja/42158.js – Letter: I – (next clue was a freebie to the next step /ridersonthestorm)
- oap.ninja/ridersonthestorm/ – Letter: E – (next clue was via a Twitter DM to the last step)
- oap.ninja/twitter/ – Password to complete was SEOISDEAD
What did you need to get through this version?
- A basic understanding of HTML (view source)
- A little help from a few Chrome extensions to view URL paths, headers, HTTP canonicals and redirects (I personally love by Ayima’s Redirect Path extension)
- A little patience
What happens next?
While the oap.ninja robots.txt file will stay in place, a huge thank you to the 141 (some twice) that took the time to get through the different versions so far, also to you if you took some time out to go through it but fell over through impatience or technical issues.
This current version’s files will now be removed to make way for the newer version, a version 4 based on all of the feedback from the guys and girls that completed this incarnation. By the way the suggestions I am getting back truly are evil.
What did I learn?
I learned that there are some really, really, weird people out there with fantastic minds who have linked to and sent traffic to something that was never intended to be a game.
Give me more!
I am not quite ready to put the new one up just yet, mainly because it lives in the last version’s feedback, and the rest is in my head.
You can however satisfy your technical SEO inner monster by heading over to technicalseo.expert where Alexis has put together an absolute hair puller. I was totally flattered that she based some of it (just a bit) on mine, but she has taken evil-hiding in a new direction.
Also a big thank you to Andrew for letting me post this here on his corner of the web. He’s still not getting any clues to the next version no matter how much he asks.
Thanks Dean, I shall badger you suitably for clues to version 4!
Got a question for Dean about oap.ninja? No doubt he’ll be dropping by here and reading your comments, below, so fire away.
seo meeting of minds
If, like me, you toiled against oap.ninja and still battle with technicalseo.expert and want to share your pain with others, you should come to the Cambridge SEO MeetUps, Optimisey.
Optimisey is a free SEO networking and learning event, so if you’re an expert stuck on the tougher stages or if you’re a novice who can’t get past the first page, come along, join, learn, share.
Did I mention it’s free?