Why Holding a Contest Can Help You Boost SEO and Reader Engagement

Contests in SEO

With so many websites out there, it can be hard to improve your site’s SEO ranking emerge through the smoke, and this is especially true for newer sites or companies. Now that Google is getting stricter when it comes to link building and content marketing (guest blogging problems, anyone?), you really have to start getting creative. There are plenty of options out there to try to build up your SEO or increase reader engagement, but a simple, effective solution is to hold a contest. Believe it or not, this is an excellent way to set yourself apart from the rest.

How Hosting a Contest Can Improve Your SEO and Reader Engagement

A contest can improve reader engagement as well as improve SEO simply by driving more people to your site and giving people a reason to visit your site. Of course, contests can be held anywhere and about anything—YouTube, social networks, etc. In other words, they don’t only drive people to your actual website, but all of your different channels.

Below are a few different ways that hosting a contest can help your SEO and reader engagement:

  • Social media is a great place to hold a contest as well as promote one. 

Contests are likely to go viral and have the potential to drum up a ton of interest in your overall product. Social media is huge in helping to get the word out to your audience about the contest, and you can easily ask for re-tweets, responses or Facebook “likes” to help advance the contest. The more action on social media, the more eyes the post sees, which should lead to more of a following on your social channels.

For some contests, the only participation or action required of readers is to “like” a page or re-tweet, both of which are accomplished with a simple click of the mouse. It’s a quick, easy way to build a following and get your site out there. But when the contest is over, make sure you give the audience a reason to stick around on social media.

  • Ask others to link back to your contest to spread the word (and earn your website some natural links). 

While simply requesting a “like” or re-tweet a page is effective, you can also ask people to provide links to the contest on their own site, which would help drive traffic and give your SEO ranking a boost. This isn’t paying anyone to link back to you or offering poor content for a link back, so it’s a completely safe way to build links in front of a targeted audience, and these kinds of opportunities are hard to come by these days.

  • Contests help you connect with a targeted group of people and incite action.

Contests can be exciting, especially if there are prizes to give away or some other reward for readers. Asking people to re-tweet, “like” a page or provide a link-back gives your audience something to do to actively get involved with your site and product. This could lead them to want to take action. Contests can provide a community feel, which is especially important for sites and companies that thrive off comments and conversations.

Not only that, but contests are an excellent way to connect you with a targeted group of people. Those who will benefit from whatever your contest offers surely have something in common, so you can capitalize on this and keep it in mind for future marketing strategies and content creation.

How to Get Started Hosting a Contest

We’ve established the potential benefits of a contest, so it’s time to actually put it to use. Below are the questions I usually ask to get started creating a contest:

  • What are my goals of the contest?

Before you do anything, take the time to think about a few things, such as your goals for the contest and what you want to get out of it. You of course want improved reader engagement and SEO, but are you looking for new customers? To improve your social media numbers? Ideas for marketing strategies you may want to try in the future? Whatever your goal is will affect the type of contest you choose to hold.

  • What will motivate my audience to want to enter the contest?

Your other other main objective (aside from your goals) is the motivation. What would drive your audience to partake in the contest? Is there a prize or a giveaway? Are you promoting visibility for the winner, maybe from a guest blog post on your site where they can showcase their product or company? Why would people want to “like,” share or spend their valuable time on this contest? Determine the incentive based on the masses—what would motivate the most people?

  • What type of contest aligns with my goals and my audience’s motivation?

With all the different avenues to hold a contest, you can choose the best one that fits your company and agenda. Instagram contests are obviously good for photos, a blogging contest appeals to writers and people with their own sites and Twitter and Facebook are good catch-alls for any type. I highly recommend checking out our past article here to learn about the specific different types of contests out there that have had success.

  • What will be the rules of my contest?

Once you know what type of contest you want to hold, you have to actually come up with rules and put it into motion. I put this as it’s own bullet point because you need to be very clear when it comes to the rules of your contest so that you don’t have any loopholes that could leave you with more winners than you want. Believe it or not, this is one of the biggest things that companies do wrong when creating their first contest!

  • Extra Tip: Try incorporating your contest into all of your different platforms. 

If you want to reach the most people in the shortest amount of time, it may be best to incorporate every outlet at your disposal, as each avenue has its own benefits and drawbacks. Facebook posts are promoted more heavily on people’s timelines with more likes, comments and shares. Twitter is an extremely effective way to get information out in today’s 140-character society, but it’s also easy for one tweet (or a couple) to get lost in the shuffle. On top of that, not everybody is a blogger with interest in generating content and some people don’t own multiple social media accounts, so utilizing every channel increases the likelihood of reaching your entire audience.

Make sure you post the contest to your site and use your email newsletter (if you have one) to help promote and spread the word.

Is a Contest Right for You?

Contests may be a quick and easy way to increase visibility on your site, boost your SEO and engage readers, but they don’t work for every company. It’s also imperative that you try to limit the “empty” attention from people who only signed on for the contest and aren’t interested in your overall product. That is sometimes hard to avoid, but you can help yourself by rolling out your highest-quality content immediately after the contest, putting your best foot forward, so to speak.

Have you ever participated in a contest from another company? Have you ever run a contest yourself? Weigh in with your own experiences below and let us know what has worked and/or what hasn’t worked in the past.

Creative commons image by Pete / Flickr