And the Link Love Award Winner is...You

I love awards. I love Oscar, Webby, ADDY, and any other award friend I can get my hands on. You can imagine my excitement when my sister-in-law won the 2001 Cleveland Regional Emmy for best Interview/Discussion Programs - Shows Scheduled Weekly or Less Often.

I was browsing around Search Engine Watch, as I'm apt to do, and what to my wondering eyes did appear but the SES Awards Finalists have been announced! The winners will be announced at SES San Jose next week. You can be sure I'll be right there waiting with bated breath to hear the winners of such categories as:

  • Search Engine with Most Relevant Search Results Technology
  • Platform Search Marketers Can't Live Without
  • Best Social Media Marketing Campaign

That's only a small sampling, go check them all out. They're all pretty exciting.

"I get it Sage, you're excited about contests. But what does this have to do with me getting more links?"

Well, my dear reader, I'm so glad you asked. The answer is, "everything!"

Good Links Come From Good Content

Being involved in contests, being a finalist in contests, and especially winning contests is link nirvana.

If you only learn one thing from me about links, I want you to remember that good links come from good content. Linking doesn't work the other way around.

And if a contest is anything, it's good content. Whether you win or lose, a contest has endless linking potential.

First, the contest itself will often give you a link. Sometimes you'll get a link for just entering. Sometimes you'll get a link for being a finalist. Almost invariably, you'll get a link for winning.

These links are often put on the home page of the contest Web site. Home page links are incredibly hard to come by, and are some of the most valuable links because search engines place so much importance and weight on home pages.

Additionally, your link will often be placed on a "winners" page that will stay on the site for years to come.

If you win, this gives you endless things to talk about in press releases and on your site. These kinds of press releases get picked up pretty readily. Of course, you'll have a few links pointing back to your Web site cleverly peppered throughout the press release.

Also, tell your vendors and customers about your win. They may link to you from their site. After all, people like being associated with a winner.

Even Losing has Link Potential

First, you aren't a loser. You are a "participant" or a "finalist." Second, you were in the company of world-class competition. "Just being a part of the process was an honor."

You'll want to put a page together on your Web site telling of your experience. Send out a press release to some local publications and any other places that might care that you gave it the "old college try." In fact, maybe your college would care. Or maybe your church, your chamber of commerce, or any other association you're a part of.

You can also go the "bad loser" route, if that's more your style. You could spout off about how you were robbed and how the judges wouldn't know quality if it smacked them in the face. These kinds of tirades are sure to get you a bunch of links, too. However, don't expect to be able to participate in the contest next year. If you do this enough, you might find yourself without any contests interested in your participation at all. But you might have gotten enough links along the way to warrant being ostracized.

If all else fails, start your own contest. This is likely a good way to get links from participants. Plus, your chances of winning really skyrocket.

Look for Contests Outside Your Industry

Finally, don't get too focused on contests just about what you do as your primary services or product. There are all sorts of contests for all sorts of things. A four-person team from our office won the Muffin Day Scavenger Hunt, which resulted in some decent links, as well as a year's supply of muffins. This was a contest put together by a local company celebrating their 20-year anniversary.

The name of the link building game is content. The trick is to come up with some compelling content. Contests are often just the content ticket you need to get on the link building train.

About the author

Sage Lewis started his online marketing company, SageRock.com, in 1999 during a time when most Internet companies were failing. SageRock, however, has thrived under Lewis’ direction -- growing an average of 30% every year, while also being recognized as one of the top ten search engine optimization firms in the U.S. by a third-party resource in the industry, Marketing Sherpa.

Regarded as a web marketing expert, Lewis speaks regularly to business organizations like NEOSA and COSE, serves as a resource for press about industry trends, and teaches a recurring class on search engine optimization at Cleveland State University.

Lewis has created a unique company culture that values the individual employee and client, and he has built SageRock around one principle, “The concern, respect and empathy for the individual people we come in contact with at SageRock is our single core value.”

Lewis lives in Akron with his wife, Rocky, and son, Indiana.

Read more of Sage Lewis's columns at ClickZ.