What Did You Learn From Our SEM Scholarship Contest?



I must admit, putting together the Marketing Pilgrim SEM Scholarship contest was a lot of fun, hard work too, but mostly fun. There’s a lot of talented up and comers out there, and I believe many who entered the contest will become more familiar names in 2007.

During dinner at SES Chicago, David Temple suggested it would be good to hear from each entrant and see what they learned from their efforts to win. I asked David to put together a quick summary of his idea and what he learned. Here it is…

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SEM Scholarship Contest Loser Reveals How He Won

“Since I blog about sem seo certification and training it was only natural that when Andy Beal announced his SEM Scholarship contest it had to be covered. What an excellent idea, get great content for your site and have the contestants drive traffic to it. In addition Andy lined up a panel of judges that was a literal who’s who list from the seo world. He even solicited more than $6,000 worth of prizes! The idea was there would be four weekly winners, based on unique page views and the finalist would be picked by the panel of judges. As I covered the week by week events I decided it might be a good idea to join the contest myself. So in the fourth week I submitted my entry. Big mistake since mine was not the only procrastinated article to be submitted. There were a total of 19 other entries in that last week. When all was said and done I finished in 12th place out of 48 amazing entries.

The main goal was to drive as many people to your article as possible. So I told everyone I knew about it. I figured even if I didn’t win the contest at least the judges would notice my article and perhaps visit my blog. I managed to add at the end of my article “Want to know more? Simply type sem seo certification into your favorite search engine and mine, Google”. Another thing I was hoping for was Andy would notice much of my traffic was international and perhaps comment on that or give me an honorable mention.

So what did I learn and why do I think I won? The first thing I learned was don’t procrastinate. I also should have commented on the other entries and used the social media channel better. One thing that did work was my continued blogging about the contest because the trackbacks of my posts would show up as comments. I was also getting a lot of readers to my blog so that was a nice addition. The best part was that one of the judges, none other than Kim Krause Berg, wrote “David Temple, I also enjoyed your post on education.” She even added me to her blog roll! I learned a lot from reading the articles. I especially learned about the power of social media from the contest winner Ben Wills. In the end more people know about me and my blog and that’s how I won.

I encourage all the SEM Scholarship contestants to write and let us know how they won!”

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Thanks for the feedback David. So, over to you. If you entered, what did you learn, what tactics did you try? If you simply read the entries, what did you get from the information shared by the entrants?

I’d love to hear your feedback. Leave a comment or post to you own blog. Your feedback will help us to fine-tune the next scholarship, which we hope to run in the spring.

  • http://www.xuru.com/blog/ Jeremy Luebke

    I actually wrote about the experience a few days after the third week’s numbers came in. So instead of re-posting the whole thing…

    My Contest Experience

  • http://www.seobuzzbox.com/ SEO Buzz Box

    I learned that quality content alone goes nowhere without marketing, seo and general buzz. (I had no time to spam the network after I submitted mine like others did)

    I learned that who people believe you are and your celebrity status is a major factor. (by the way this does not make you less relevant in future search algorithms.)

    I also learned that my SEO Glossary was a good idea because Aaron Wall soon followed with his own massive somewhat self serving addition. ;)

  • http://www.sitecreations.com/blog Scott Clark

    First I was impressed with the quality of the winner and entries and have no beef with those at all. I have a whole new set of great blogs to add to my blogroll (though nobody added mine, which has me scrutinizing it thoroughly.)

    Truthfully, I was under the impression that the page-views were those which would be generated through interest “as discovered” on Andy’s pages rather than those generated “by all means you wish.”

    That is, through links here on Marketing Pilgrim. Never did I even consider buying ads on PPC to send traffic to my write-up, nor did I even send it link equity from my other sites. I thought it was my peers who frequent Andy’s blog who would be reviewing things – so just a simple misunderstanding.

    Given the great quality of the entries, I think it came out well in the end anyhow – the panel showed good judgement in their choices and I have enjoyed it!

    As the great quote goes, “don’t bring a knife to a gunfight, cowboy.”

  • http://www.webandgraphicsolutions.com Ben Fremer

    IFRAMED traffic to my website on a popular website looks like it would have won week 4 for me if I had started it earlier, instead of with just 2.5 days left.

    The article I submitted was of high quality, however, and I plan to reference it in an application to be a speaker at upcoming Search Engine Strategies shows for the local and small business search marketing section. So, all was not lost.

    Thanks for the chance,

    Ben

  • http://www.thevanblog.com Steven Bradley

    Andy, first thank you for running the contest. I really enjoyed the week of driving traffic to my article and got to read some pretty good articles by people I didn’t know about prior to the contest.

    I too blogged about my experience shortly after the end of the contest

    SEM Contest Results

    Much of my strategy involved putting my social network to work and seeing what it could do. I emailed people I know and asked them to email people they know. I did similar things on the forums where I’m most active. It was interesting to see how far my network could reach in a few days and gave me a benchmark for the future.

    Prior to this contest I had never attempted to drive traffic to a specific page in such a short amount of time. My focus has generally been on results that would come longer term.

    I think the shorter duration helped me better understand viral and buzz marketing and gave me ideas for the future about how to spread an idea farther and faster.

    It was a learning experience to try and keep track of what was being said about my article and seeing what I could do to keep the discussion going and hopefully get more views because of the continued discussion.

    I learned after the contest what some other participants had tried and still wonder why I didn’t think to try a few of those ideas myself. For the life of me I still don’t know why I didn’t spend time on a PPC campaign.

    Mostly I learned that there are quite a few SEOs out there that I didn’t know before. And that many have some very interesting ideas and are good people and hopefully by the next contest I’ll know them better.

    Thanks again Andy for running the contest. I never imagined when I submitted my article what a whirlwind week it would be and how much I would enjoy that week.

    I look forward to the next contest.

  • http://www.evolvor.com eric hebert

    Andy, I think the contest was a great exercise to help me build confidence as an internet marketing consultant. The contest allowed me to be reviewed by some of the biggest names in the business, increasing my visibility in the business and establishing some new relationships, yourself included. I was a little naive at first, not realizing the contest was really to see who can move traffic to their site; I can’t wait to do it again next year. Thanks again!

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  • http://www.seobuzzbox.com/ Aaron Pratt

    testing…

    for some reason I am not able to post in here today…

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    Thanks all for your valuable feedback. It all helps when looking at what tweaks we may need in the future. Do you think running it for one week was a good time period? As Steven mentioned, only having one week to build traffic meant looking at buzz generation. A longer period might help those who’s skills favor a longer term SEO approach

  • http://www.joostdevalk.nl/blog/ Joost de Valk

    Well since the article runs on your site, you can’t do much organic search wise… I thought a week was fun :)

  • http://semcertification.wordpress.com David Temple

    I think a week was fine but how about a followup and say how many people can keep driving traffic over a two month or longer period. In other words short term results and long term results.

  • http://superrob.blogspot.com Rob Stevens

    It’s all about the title. I’m sure everyone has theories about what caused who to get how much traffic, but you can look at the titles, and pretty well guess the order their traffic will rank in.

  • http://www.seobuzzbox.com/ Aaron Pratt

    Andy – I was not even aware that my content would require buzz and was kind of foolish to believe that it would be judged on “quality” alone.

    Anyone can spam a network to generate the buzz.

  • http://www.thevanblog.com Steven Bradley

    Andy I don’t think the one week was good or bad, just different. You could run a similar contest for six months and it would simply mean we would need to employ a different strategy and different tactics to win.

    Joost I think even with the article here you could still have worked for organic results. I think the Marketing Pilgrim site carries a certain amount of authority with it, probably more than many of our own sites. We could have focused efforts into finding long tail phrases that could have brought search traffic with it. I know I checked my own article a few days after the contest began and was able to find it for some phrases. Not necessarily phrases that were searched often, but a different article might have drawn more searched for phrases.

    The articles were unlikely to draw more competitve phrases, but perhaps a longer contest would allow more link building as a tactic. Andy I’m sure you’d enjoy us all working a few months building links for the site as well so maybe a longer contest would be a good option for next time.

    What I would have liked was more time in between finding out about the contest and submitting the article. I don’t know when you first started promoting the contest, but by the time I learned of it the contest was already into its third week. That might have more to do with me though, than the contest. The announcements were out there and in places I frequent. I just missed them.

    After the contest I was thinking of different ways to run a contest like this and I thought another layer of complexity might be to add conversions in somehow. Traffic is only good if it does something once it gets to the page.

    I’m not sure what the best way to implement something like this would be, but maybe there’s a way to take the contest another step and see which of us could not only get traffic to our article, but also get someone to move from our article to a predetermined page.

    It might not be completely workable, but it’s an idea.

    I think contests like these can get tired if they don’t change so maybe a longer contest would be a good idea for the next one. Either way I’m sure it will be fun.

  • http://www.joostdevalk.nl/blog/ Joost de Valk

    Heh, Steven, you made me search :)

  • http://www.thevanblog.com Steven Bradley

    Cool. And #1 too.

  • http://www.improvetheweb.com yuri

    In my opinion, the amount of traffic to a single page has little to do with SEO, more like social networking and the amount of other sites you have (and how much you want to invest in PPC).

    Though social networking is important, it measured not the skill, but the size of an already established network.

    A one week period surely posed its limits on driving traffic to a page, which meant keyword research and link building had little to do with it. A longer period could allow focusing on keyword research and some link building. Then again, if you make people drive targeted traffic to your website, you’d rather reward the top 10, or something.

    Overall, it was a pretty slick feat not to pay anything (except the time) for dozens of quality articles and quality traffic.

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