7 Steps to Buzz-worthy Contests for SEO – By Stephan Spencer

by Sara Szado on January 29, 2016


feedfront-33 cover-188x240Contests can be a fantastic addition to your content marketing and your SEO. Simply assemble the right ingredients in the right order, and voilà: authoritative links and top Google rankings. It’s a tried and true strategy.

When Jeremy Shoemaker, founder of Shoemoney Media and super blogger at Shoemoney.com, wrote the foreword for my recent book, Social eCommerce, he brought up a contest I dreamed up years ago and ran on his site for my client OvernightPrints.com. I crushed it for the client, taking them from nowhere in Google for “business cards” to the top of page one at #2.

The premise: design Jeremy’s new business card and you could win free business cards for life. The winning entry, to this day, looks awesome. And yes, the strategy, if well-executed, still works, even with Google’s latest algorithms like RankBrain.

Let’s peel back some of the layers to deconstruct how we did this so you can replicate it:

1. The prize needs to sound impressive.

In general, a “lifetime supply” of anything sounds impressive. Choose an inexpensive prize that a winner won’t gorge on daily. Run a chain of spas? Offer free manicures for a year. You can use the fine print to put limits on it, like OvernightPrints.com did, at 1,000 business cards per year for a maximum of 20 years.

2. Get a partner with name recognition who’s willing to promote your contest.

This is crucial. Like I partnered OvernightPrints.com with Jeremy, one partner can provide the prize and the other can provide the fan base and thus the reach. Leverage the influencer’s brand by enlisting their help in spreading the word via social. Jeremy posted on his blog, Twitter, and YouTube.

3. Promote the heck out of the contest yourself, too.

Don’t just rely on your partners to do it for you. We reached out to a bunch of design sites, and they greeted us with enthusiasm. Their readers (“creatives”) love contests because winning them, or even just being selected a “finalist”, looks stellar on a resume.

4. Host the contest page on your site.

Not on your partner’s. You want the link authority flowing directly to your site. As you might guess, the contest entry page was on OvernightPrints.com, not Shoemoney.com.

5. Make it relevant to your business and keywords.

It wouldn’t have made any sense for OvernightPrints.com to run a contest where you write a letter to the President and win a trip to Washington DC. Their money term was “business cards”, so being on page one in Google for that was worth big bucks.

6. Keep it simple.

People online are lazy and impatient, so lower the barriers to entry. Long entry forms and complex rules kill participation.

7. Involve the community.

Successful contests are participatory. Have the partner’s community get in on the judging to select finalists. Contestants will invariably enroll family, friends and followers in voting; might as well encourage it. Final say on the winner should always be yours, however.

Stephan Spencer is a renowned SEO expert, three-time O’Reilly author, and acclaimed professional speaker.

This article appeared in issue 33 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in January 2016. http://issuu.com/affiliatesummit/docs/feedfront-33

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