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Using Competitions For Increased Traffic, Links and Brand Awareness

Gaz Copeland

by Gaz Copeland on 18th July 2012

WinningToday Gaz Copeland of Stoked SEO takes us through the prize-winning world of online competitions, with all you need to know to run your first online draw. If you like the post then please send your answers on a postcard… or leave a comment below.

I’m a huge fan of running online competitions because if done correctly they can be incredibly effective with very little outlay. Let’s face it, everybody likes winning things, right? Competitions and giveaways are one of the key tactics I use when looking for a quick traffic boost, which can lead to more sustained traffic levels over time. I use them so often because, to be blunt, they work.

Running a Competition for Traffic

If you are looking to generate extra traffic to your website look no further, competitions can do that, but there are few important points when your goal is specifically to bring traffic to your site:

  1. Include competition information back on your website
  2. Ensure entrants must visit your site in order to enter
  3. Link back to your site whenever you promote the competition!


The first question to ask yourself is why are you running a competition at all? What is your goal? What you are hoping to achieve? Although I am specifically going to write about running a competition to increase traffic to your site, the basics of running a competition are very similar with just minor tweaks to achieve different goals. Other reasons to run competitions:

  • To build links
  • To build brand awareness
  • To increase social followers
  • To get rid of surplus stock
  • To promote a specific product or service
  • To build an email list


What are you going to give away? The prize is a vitally important component to any successful competition and will be heavily influenced by the above reason for running. For the purpose of increasing traffic there are no real limits to what you could offer. That said, there are a few top tips I would give for selecting a great competition prize. I’m not a huge fan of the extremely obvious – money, iPad/Pods etc, etc so try to do something different:

  1. Be creative in your prize selection
  2. Offer something unique
  3. Make sure it’s related to your niche
  4. It doesn’t have to be expensive

After running numerous competitions in various industries, above all I have found that a prize highly relevant to the website you are promoting almost always brings the best results.


When should you be looking to run competitions to increase traffic? There’s never a bad time to run a competition, people are always on the lookout for a freebie! Competitions should be a serious part of your overall digital marketing strategy and if possible I would be running them on a regular basis.

Particularly great times to run competitions are whenever you’re launching something new, it might be a new site, a new product or new resource. Competitions have the potential to drive a huge volume of traffic in a very short space of time ideal if your site needs a quick shot in the arm.

During the competition

It’s not enough to put together a great competition, set it live, hope that it’s picked up and hope the entries come flooding in. Even if you are an established site with a good following, in order to maximise the traffic boost you will need to actively promote your prize through various channels.

Social: The right competition can spread like wildfire through social networks, especially if there are incentives for the entrant to share with their online buddies. Offering additional entries or secondary prizes for shares is a great way to get more people involved. Social networks usually have guidelines around competitions so make sure you check these out.

363 entries

Competition sites: There are literally thousands of websites dedicated to competitions on the net, many of which will allow you to add your giveaway’s free of charge for an extra bit of promotion. Chances are these sites won’t bring you highly targeted traffic, but if you’ve selected the right prize you will attract people interested in your niche along with those battle hardened compaholics. Here are a few of the more well known competition sites:

943 entries on Competwition…

Email: If you have an established email list make sure you include the details of your competition (with a link back to it) in any newsletters you might send out. If you don’t have any communications planned then make sure you drop them a short note with the details.

Niche Blogs: No matter what industry or niche you are working in I can guarantee you somebody is blogging about it. Bloggers can be invaluable for helping to promote your competitions and, with the right outreach, will spread the word of your amazing competition.

850 entries…

Once you’ve finished

So you get to the closing date, review the entries, let them know and forget about it right? Nope, you’re not done yet! If you want to sustain the boost in traffic from a competition there are a couple of things you can do even after you’re closed for further entries:

The Consolation Prize: It’s always a great idea to have something up your sleeve for those not fortunate enough to win the grand prize. Discounts or a cut down offering of the prize are both ways to attract people back to your site after the closing date.

The Gold Mine: Your list of entries is a potential goldmine in terms of networking opportunities with people who have already expressed an interest in your site. These could be future customers, advocates, partners or even bloggers in your niche. Always set some time aside to review who has entered and follow up on any opportunities.


So that’s it, my thoughts on running competitions to increase website traffic . If you’ve never tried running one for your website what are you waiting for?? It really does work.

The views expressed in this post are those of the author so may not represent those of the Koozai team.

Further Reading

Gaz Copeland

Gaz Copeland

Gaz Copeland is the owner and creator of Stoked SEO the Stoke-on-Trent based SEO and Internet Marketing blog. A passion for creative link building, eCommerce and local SEO Gaz has worked as a consultant with hundreds of sites, on all kinds or platforms in many industries since publishing his first site all the way back in 1999.


  • Mike Essex

    Mike Essex 18th July 2012

    Thanks for taking the guest post podium this week Gaz.
    To get the debate going; Whenever I talk about competitions I get the “is this a paid link” question. What’s your take on that?

    Reply to this comment

  • Gaz Copeland 18th July 2012

    Currently I say it isn’t, there is no money changing hands but of course the prize will have a value attached. I think people a right to ask the question because potentially almost any link could be a classed as paid if you want to take it to an extreme. I guess it all comes down to what Google thinks really.

    Is a guest post a paid link for example? People’s time and also the content they produce has a value right?

    Reply to this comment

    • Dan Callis 19th July 2012

      It depends on how you look at it really. You’re not saying “Here, take this and give us a link” (much like the product reviews and PR samples for bloggers approach) as not everyone sharing and/or linking is going to get something in return. However you could say that your competition is that SEO cliche of “great content”. For example if a band I liked were offering a chance to win their new record on vinyl I’d say they are supplying their fanbase (niche) with great content (music they like/want).

      Oh and fully agree with everything in this post. I’d love to see some research/data into what types of comps and prizes work best for specific results (social, links, emails, etc) in the future.

      Reply to this comment

      • Gaz Copeland 19th July 2012

        It certainly depend on your point of view Dan, or Google’s really. I agree with you though, if you’re offering prize “x” via a related niche blog or similar that’s got to be viewed in a better light then offering it somewhere completely unrelated just for the link.

        Thanks for the comment.

  • Amy Fowler 18th July 2012

    Great post Gaz with some very helpful tips,

    I’m wondering though, why you haven’t mentioned the use of competitions to boost social media followings?

    This seems to be an increasingly popular use for competitions (I’ve been a keen ‘competitioner’ myself for years, and I’m seeing more and more comps including a Facebook ‘like’ as part of the entry process), and it definitely is a very effective way of drastically increasing your social following in a small space of time…

    Reply to this comment

  • Gaz Copeland 18th July 2012

    Hi Amy, thanks for the comment. this post wasn’t really about upping your following on social media, more about getting traffic back to your site. Obviously social can play a big part in that too which is why I included it in the post.

    I did actually write another post over on my own blog addressing the topic of competitions to grow your Twitter following. I’ve dropped the link below if you want to take a look.

    Thanks again for the comment


    Reply to this comment

  • Anthony Pensabene 18th July 2012

    Nice- I’m always interested in this sort of engagement with consumers/fans/readers etc.

    I think in the immediate SEO space people think about bloggers, but not the larger masses. A few months ago I moved. I tragically was parting ways with a surfboard. I wanted to do something different than just sell it. I posted on Craig’s that I would give the board to whomever read a particular blog post and left the most creative response as to why they should have my board…for free.

    I naturally wanted to spread the word in the LA area and specifically to surfers or those interested in trying. I used Twitter to hit up a local brand/blogger who helped spread the word…

    Reply to this comment

    • Gaz Copeland 18th July 2012

      Thanks for the comment Anthony! That’s an extremely creative way to get rid of an unwanted surfboard!

      I really need to ask now, what was the winning comment??

      Reply to this comment

  • Alex 11th September 2012

    Awesome post guys, competitions are a great form of marketing in so many different ways, well worth the time and investment as a marketing strategy.

    Also really appreciate the mention in this article under further reading!

    Reply to this comment

  • dco22 5th March 2013

    Do you have a list of sites for the USA too?

    Reply to this comment

  • Charles Taylor 5th March 2013

    I work for an online costume company and we do LOTs of competitions – less for SEO reasons (although it is part of it) and more for user engagement and traffic generation. The sites you listed all seem to be for the UK. I don’t suppose you have some recommendations for US based sites?

    Thanks and great post Gaz!

    Reply to this comment

  • Yannis Karagiannidis 25th March 2013

    Hey Gaz,

    Could you add our website too in your competition website list that you have in this article?

    Thank you – great post!

    Reply to this comment

  • Martin Naylor 22nd April 2013

    Wow! I’ve been running a UK competition website for years and I’ve only just just found this fountain of knowledge. Please keep up the good work.

    Reply to this comment

  • Competitions Australia 3rd June 2013

    Great article Gaz and also relevant to the promoters and companies looking to run competitions in Australia as a way to drive traffic.

    Reply to this comment

  • Fiona Miller 11th September 2013

    Gaz you always hit the right note with your blog posts. Another great example and some brilliant information for us.

    I always ask my clients why they want more traffic, most of them don’t know, they just know that it is the right answer! The goal has to be targeted doesn’t it; there’s no use in creating additional traffic through competitions if the bounce rate goes through the roof and that is your main concern. If you want to showcase your site and it is good enough to engage visitors when they are there, or there is a data capture and you plan to do some e-marketing, or you want to create more brand awareness in a certain marketplace, that’s when competition usage starts to become interesting!

    Fiona Miller
    Digital Marketing Specialist
    The Sentinel Digital Agency

    Reply to this comment

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