How to Create Efficient Contests and Sweepstakes That Increase Your SEO

Editor's Choice, How To's

Social media companies are cracking down on bots, fake followers, and phony traffic. It’s become harder to get broad distribution on social media without paying to boost your posts.

It is time to up your game if you want to get organic traffic and shares.

Instant WinsSweepstakes, and other contests can drive incredible traffic to your sites and increase your SEO.

Top Benefits From Contests

  • Increase engagement
  • Grow number of followers
  • Encourage inbound links
  • Increase website traffic
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Grow email databases

In addition, contests can have a significant positive impact on your overall SEO (Search Engine Optimization) when you drive traffic to landing pages or contest pages on your website. By driving additional organic traffic, it sends positive signals to search engine algorithms. Contests can also organically increase the total time users will spend on your site.

How Contests Increase Website SEO

Search engines rely on a sophisticated and complex set of signals within their algorithms to try to present the best results to users. They look at a number of factors to determine a quality score for your website, which they use to match results.

Search Engine Ranking Signals

  • Backlinks
  • Social Signals
  • Relevant keywords
  • Search volume
  • Domain SEO
  • Keywords
  • Referring domains
  • Updated content

Contests, sweepstakes, and Instant Wins check off nearly all of these boxes. By creating a landing page on your website and using relevant keywords, you can use social contests to drive organic traffic. The more engagement you get (likes, shares, click-throughs) on your contest, the more positive social signals you’re sending.

By using major social sites, you’re getting referral traffic from quality domains. Regular contests provide updated content. Crafting the contest and the landing page and accompanying content should use relevant keywords to your organization. Think about how people search for what you have to offer and make sure to use the right keywords on your landing page.

In addition to helping with SEO, contests and promotions can turn social media users into your brand ambassadors. Encouraging people to post and share their participation amplifies the reach of your marketing efforts. When they post, it shows up in their friends’ feeds, which encourages their interaction, which then gets shared with their friends’ feeds, and so on. Every time one of their friends engages, it sends a positive signal to the search engines as well.

Do Contests Still Work?

Whether it’s a Facebook photo contest or a Pinterest pin-to-win contest, the short answer: Yes, contests work!

Why Contests Works

The longer answer: who doesn’t like to win something for free? One of the primary reasons giveaways and contests are effective for marketers is the nearly universal reach across all sections of society, including the affluent. U.S. households earning more than $100,000 annually make up 17.4% of contest or sweepstakes players, while households earning $200,000 or more each year account for 14.9%.

Types of Contests

There are all sorts of contests that can drive engagement and SEO. Here are some of the most popular promotional campaigns.

Popular Contest Types

In addition to contests and giveaways, you can use quizzes, polls, and brackets to generate interest. Winners can receive prizes as well.

Popular Polls, Quizzes, & Games

5 Steps To Creating An Efficient Contest Promotion

When it comes to increasing SEO and engagement, following these five steps is critical to maximizing your campaign results.

1. Decide your objectives

Before you begin, decide what you want as the desired result: shares, engagement, likes, traffic to landing pages or website, growing your email list, etc.

You’ll want to pick the content and the medium depending on your goals, and then judge the success of the campaign based on the tactic you’ve chosen.

When designing your contest, limit what you request from people. Focus on what you need to meet your objectives. The more boxes you ask people to fill out, the less likely they are to enter. (This effect is commonly known as Analysis Paralysis.) Furthermore, the more personal the information, the less likely someone will be to enter. Ask only what you most need.

2. Understand Your Audience

The key to successful marketing campaigns? Placing the right message in front of the right person, at the right time.

When designing a promotion that will resonate with your target customers or audience, it makes a big difference whether you are targeting Millennials or Baby Boomers, or any specific demographic or psychographic group. The better you understand who you want to approach, the better you can shape the promotion.

Are you promoting your business, website, or organization nationwide, regionally, or locally? You’ll want to make sure you have defined your target and distribution geographically as well.

3. Test Different Platforms and Promotions

Even the most successful companies will try things and see what sticks. Consider A/B testing different versions of contests, different promotions, and different forms of social media.

4. Pick the Right Prize(s)

The giveaway prize you choose can make or break your contest.

There is a whole line of psychology on what prizes appeal to what audience sectors. Bigger prizes often attract larger audiences, but may not necessarily attract the right audience. For example, offering a laptop or iPad might get you bulk, but the majority will only enter to win the prize you’re giving away, not to connect with your brand.

Ideal prizes will attract potential customers and not just contest players and “prize hunters.”

One of the best strategies is to pick one of your own products as a prize, or something closely related to your brand. People interested in winning what your business has to offer are likely interested in your other products or services. If you’re running a promotion for a pizza restaurant, giving away a pizza party for the big game might net you customers by reminding them you’re out there, and might also give you a group to remarket to with coupons or invitations to visit.

Complementary products also work well and reinforce your brand, product, or service. For example, a camera store might give away a tripod or quality hiking gear.

Experts suggest you offer multiple prizes or bundles rather than a single item. If you can give the impression that entrants have a better chance to walk away with a prize, it will likely encourage more people to play. Multiple prizes are perceived to have a higher overall value, even if it doesn’t. Ten chances to win $25 gift cards will likely perform better than offering one $250 gift card.

5. Have a Post-Contest Strategy

Your post-contest, giveaway or sweepstakes strategy should take two forms: evaluating effectiveness and follow-up.

First, you’ll want to see if the promotion met the goals you set before you started. Then, your follow-up might provide the biggest payoff. Let’s say you’ve asked people for permission to send email in order to enter. Sending a follow-up email for other contests, coupons, discounts, sales, or free trials can pay longtail dividends.

If you’ve offered a prize related to your business, entrants have expressed an interest. These interested consumers are likely more open to offers and overtures on deals. Don’t wait! An effective strategy is letting them know they did not win but offering them a clear value coupon good for a set amount of time. This creates an opportunity for increased customer loyalty.

An email drip campaign lets you keep your brand, products, or services in front of potential customers regularly.

Here’s a strategy many successful marketers use:

  • Send an auto-response email thanking entrants for participating, including a prompt to share the contest. (This might include awarding bonus entries for sharing with friends.)
  • At the contest’s conclusion, send a follow-up email announcing the contest is over and letting participants know they’re weren’t picked as a winner. Soften the bad news by providing a coupon, discount, or other offer related to the prize. “Hey, you didn’t win that particular prize, but here’s a coupon for 15% off for the same product.” A limited time offer may spur the recipient to act now.
  • If the recipient clicks through the coupon to the offer but doesn’t buy, you can remarket to them. If they put it in their shopping cart and don’t complete the sale, the reminder message can be even stronger: “Complete your order.”
  • Present periodic offers or discounts, along with targeted content relevant to your business, brand and for bonus points your audience interests. When recipients interact with your email, follow-up again with a specific offer.

While this may seem aggressive, the cycle works. Just remember to provide opt-out information as required. In addition to potential spurring sales, each of these touch points encourage website visits, which can positively impact your SEO.

Bonus Entries

Offering bonus entries for social sharing can help spread your promotion quickly. Isn’t it great when someone else does your marketing for you, for free?

Providing strong social proof is one of the most effective strategies for promotions to go viral. People are more likely to engage if a friend in their social network has done so, giving it their implied endorsement. Photo contests, where other people feel encouraged to vote to help a talented friend win a prize, get strong engagement and sharing.

The Bottom Line

No matter how well you execute your contest, sweepstakes, or Instant Win promotion, you’ll attract a number of people only interested in winning the prize. However, a well-designed promotional campaign will leverage the strengths of social media targeting, create interest, generate engagement, and ultimately increase your website’s SEO. It can furthermore create new connections for future marketing, create increased awareness, and lead to increase sales. That’s real value.

Whether it’s a Facebook contest or a promotion on another social platform, or your website, Woobox makes running Contests, Instant Wins, Sweepstakes, and other promotions easy. With simple social integration, tools to set up contests, landing pages, and the ability to embed your promotion into your website, you can be up and running in minutes.

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