The Anatomy of a Search Marketing Scholarship Contest
The last four weeks of Marketing Pilgrim’s Search Engine Marketing Scholarship Contest has been lots of fun. When I put together the idea for a scholarship, I wanted to find a way to give back to an industry that has been very good to me and help find the next top talent – you could call it “SEM Idol”. I was fortunate enough to find some great sponsors, who contributed over $6,000 in prizes and a panel of judges who are arguably the best in the industry.
I wanted to give everyone who entered a fair chance, so I crafted the contest to have two components:
- Four weekly winners – this allowed me to give more than one person a chance to win. By using “unique views” as the method to win, it ensured those that were serious about the contest, would have to do more than just write a great article. The winner would have to understand that simply providing the deliverable is not the end story for any marketer, you actually need to get exposure and traffic.
- One final winner – just in case one of the entrants managed to bombard their article with lots of unique visitors, I didn’t want to fully rely on this metric for selecting the final winner. On that basis, I reached out to some great friends and asked them if they would consider being a judge. The panel of judges would select the final winner based purely upon content and merit.
I expected to receive a steady flow of entries, but ended up being blown-away by the 48 entries received over the four weeks. The first week saw those, who realized the scholarship as a great opportunity, eagerly submit their entries.
Week 2 was the slowest week. We had just five entries, and the lowest unique views of all the weeks. Those that entered in week two found little competition.
In week 3, things picked-up again and we saw an increase in the intensity of entrants to drive traffic to their article. We saw more creative ways of driving traffic, with some even using PPC to bring traffic to their entry.
By the time we got to week 4, the heavy-hitters had arrived. No less than 6 of the 10 most viewed entries came from those submitted in week 4. The utilization of social networks became more apparent among week 4 entrants.
Everyone that entered the contest should be commended for their marvelous effort. I was extremely impressed with the overall quality and the topics were varied, as were the writing styles. The four finalists (w1, w2, w3, w4) did a superb job in beating out the competition and they now go before our expert judges, with our final scholarship winner being announced on Friday November 10th.
At lot of readers, and most entrants, have asked about how each entry faired in the contest. Instead of just sharing the unique views for each entry, I decided to get a little “mozzie” and share some interesting info about each entry.
In the table below, you’ll see not only the unique views, but total page views, percentage of direct-navigation traffic, and the top 3 referral sources for each entry. There are also links to the web page of choice for each entrant – linked by their name – so you can check out the person behind the article. If you’re looking to hire an SEO, you should certainly consider these guys.
So, here’s the data:
Five Pillars of Social Media Marketing
Ultimate Internet Marketing Article
is Pointless (But You Don’t Have to Tell Your Clients)
SEOs are Virgins
Steps to Streamlining your SEO Process
is Nothing but Karma
SEO Article You Shouldn’t Read
to rank top in Google? Wear Nike shoes.
Shortcuts for Successful SEO
Golden Rule of SEO
dirty little secret about sem seo certification
Definition of SEO…
SEO Article You SHOULD Read – 5 Reasons Accountability Matters
Steps to Becoming a Profitable, Self-Employed SEO
2.0: Marketing, Analytics and the Evolution of the Industry
my French: How to choose keywords for your regional market
530: We’re Sorry. The Internet Is Fully Optimized. Please Find A New
you still optimize your site for the search engines?
Site ranks better than yours…
Google Really Listening?
your SEO Clients – How to NOT get your Contract Cancelled
Studio 60 Can Teach Us About Blogging
PPC Success for the Hometown Hero
(Alleged) Miracle of Pay-Per-Click Marketing
of a new Paradigm
the Value of Search Engine Optimization
Psychology of SEO
Much Are We Worth?
and Weave Click Fraud Thieves
|Neal A .
Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans and SEO have in common?
to Weather Search Engine Algorithm Shifts well
You Making These Costly Mistakes with Your Search Marketing?
Engine Optimization Overview
Ideas to Smooth Out Even Rough SEO/SEM Projects
Seeks Compatible Organization For Long Term Relationship
Morning Bowl-a-rama: How to teach internet marketing to your grandparents
upon a star: How the Internet is increasing the ability to make our dreams
Goes White Hat
Power of SEO
6 Most Important OnPage Optimization Factors
you Andy! How to win Marketing Pilgrim’s Search Marketing Contest
Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?
Years Before the Mast: Tales of In-House SEO
non Techies Can Win In SEO
your Pay per Click Campaign for Maximum Profits in 7 Easy Steps
As you can see, I’ve ordered the entries based upon “unique views”, so you can see how strong each article was compared to the rest. The four weekly winners have been highlighted in yellow.
Summary and observations.
- The finalists from weeks 1, 2 and 3, did well not to wait until the final week. Indeed, week 2 winner, Ryan Bell, had the 25th overall most popular article, but entered on a week when competition was lower.
- Week 4 entrants had the benefit of seeing how the contest had played out, and what articles had faired best. They were much more creative in their traffic driving efforts, using sites such as battellemedia.com, dutchcowboys.nl, myspace.com and their own business and personal web sites.
- Great titles certainly help. While practical, keyword-filled titles were the most common, intriguing, interesting titles were one effective way to attract visitors. We won’t quickly forget, “Free Beer Inside”, “Most SEOs are Virgins” and “The SEO Article You Shouldnâ€™t Read”.
- Google Analytics did a good job in weeding out efforts to inflate visitor count. Only a couple of entries had a high ratio of Page Views compared to Unique Views.
- Those articles that didn’t fair well, were the ones that ended-up having Google has the highest traffic referrer. This suggests that maybe entrants hoped their title and content would rank well. With just a week to drive traffic, those who tried to get traffic from more varied sources, tended to fair better.
- Despite the contest rules stipulating one entry per person – and despite my best efforts to monitor – one entrant managed to submit 3 different entries across the 4 weeks. Give them credit for trying.
- MarketingPilgrim.com was also briefly banned by Digg, due to one or more entrants trying to “Digg” their entry using multiple accounts. Unfortunately, they used the same IP each time!!
Thanks again to all who entered, all who sponsored prizes, our judges and our readers. Stay tuned for the announcement of the final winner!
I’m definitely open to doing another scholarship contest in 2007. I’d certainly love to hear ideas about how to structure the next contest and what prizes would get you to enter.