By Chris Taylor, Link Analyst, Epiphany Solutions Ltd

Companies should not discount using an online competition, an easy and inexpensive method, to increase rankings. I have recently tested and created my own online competition. This post explains my methodology, examines the results and answers the question as to why businesses should use competitions for an online campaign.

What is an online competition?

It is a contest that enables users to partake in an activity with the outcome to win a prize that is relevant to your industry or brand. The goal is for users to visit your site and hopefully purchase a product, read an informative article or recommend the site to friends and family.

Who Should Run Competitions?

Anybody can and should run competitions. It helps to create and build-up on online community, whether you are a new organisation or market leader.

How to Run a Competition

When running an online competition, the website owner has to decide what the 'main objective' is. Would it simply be to receive more traffic or gain incoming links? Or to receive more Facebook page likes and Twitter followers?

In addition to the objective, the user has to be persuaded by what prize is on offer: the more expensive and relevant the prize, the more likely it will be successful.

After you have the objective and a worthwhile prize in mind, now think about a suitable question. Is it easy to answer with encouraged participation from everyone? Or would it be set up as a challenge for users to visit different parts of the website to collect the answer?

Other points to consider: once a user has entered their details, will the data be used in sending newsletters? Can it be sent to third party sites and where will this data be stored so you can easily pick a winner? Storing the data could help the site owners in generating returning visitors.

Where to Advertise the Competitions

More websites that promote deals and competitions are popping up. Submitting your competition to these sites helps publicise and generate a buzz around your brand.

• Hotukdeals.com
• Competitionfinder.com
• ThePrizeFinder.com
• Compaholics

You may find that website owners discuss the competition through their site or social networks. To further help your competition, I would recommend contacting Twitter/ Facebook users as well as serious bloggers who will be interested in covering the competition - this can also be called seeding.

Running an online competition to promote your brand or website

Competitions can also be beneficial to increase brand recognition and sales numbers. For industries like fashion and sports, a competition page covering a new product, range or services could attract both new and current clients.

Another example of this would be for a holiday cottage agency to offer a weekend away in Paris for Valentine’s Day. Or for a local summer break you could offer a weekend in Cornwall. The possibilities are endless and I’m sure after just five minutes, your creative juices are flowing.

An example of an online competition

As an experiment I created a competition on a site where you could win a Barcelona Home Shirt with Lionel Messi 10 printed on the back. The idea behind the competition was to generate traffic, improve online visibility and market the brand lionel-messi.co.uk.

The competition started on the 6 November with expectations of roughly 100 entries, and traffic increasing from around 150 to 200 per day. This was a fairly realistic approach considering the nature of the site. Well so I thought.

The competition was a tremendous success: we received a record number of visits to the site, an improvement in its rankings from ninth to sixth for the term ‘Lionel ‘Messi,’ and more than 13,000 entries.

Normally the number of visitors to the site is 150 per day, unless Lionel Messi performs in a fixture, then it generally reaches 450 visits at most. The graph below shows the impact on traffic that the competition had, from the 1 to 25 November.
The graph shows why traffic was high or low on certain dates, with the competition reaching its peak mid-month. This sudden surge in traffic was from numerous sources, like Facebook & Twitter, news stories, but most importantly, referring links from websites such as moneysavingexpert.com. The traffic data is visible below:
A phenomenal factor in the high traffic was direct traffic (i.e bookmarked, favourites or offline media). This rapidly increased during the competition, with many entries bookmarking the site / page, to check up on results or for other reasons.

With this competition being such a success, I will continue to run a competition on a monthly basis. I shall also report back with further results and proof that competitions have a positive impact on any website.


I would highly recommend offering competitions, whether it is yearly, quarterly, monthly or daily. If you do this regularly, you will see a positive impact on your site, through an increase in traffic, rankings, and inbound links.

The only negative towards competitions are the amount of time spent consuming data but the results are worth it!

Find out more about Epiphany Solutions Ltd at www.epiphanysolutions.co.uk

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