The Webby Awards were announced recently and the whose who of the web world and blogosphere were honored. Then there is the upcoming Bloggers Choice Awards. There are also the Irish Blog Awards, Bloggy Award, Canadian Blog Awards, Weblog Awards (or Bloggies), Okie Blog Awards (for Oklahoma bloggers), The Music Blog Awards, American Wine Blog Awards, SA Blog Awards (South Africa), Catholic Blog Awards, 2006 Medical Weblog Awards, Australian Blog Awards, Philippine Blog Awards, and even the Blog Of The Day Awards with a blog awarded every day of the year.
Some of these blog contests involve your blog being nominated whether you know it or not. Some blog contests require you submit your blog for consideration. Some blog contests focus only on design and presentation while others judge your overall content and in-depth coverage of your subject matter. Some judge all blogs equally, others have categories for specific types of blogs, such as the Best Blog About Blogging in the Blogger’s Choice Awards.
For the most part, these online blog competitions require voting by anyone who registers to vote. A few are selected and voted on by a single blogger or panel. Some allow anyone to vote and then the final top 5 or so for each category are judged by panelists.
Winning one of these contests can mean increased traffic and attention to your blog, as well as recognition for the work that you do. It always feels good to get such honors. And you got to admit that putting up a “best blog” banner on your blog sure feels good.
So how do blogs with these award? The same way you win your reading audience. By creating the best blog you can.
To win most blog contests, you need to:
- Enter the contest or get nominated.
- Meet all the entry requirements.
- Meet web standards.
- Impress them.
- Have quality content and information.
Enter the Contest for a Chance to Win
While some contests find you, but you often have to go looking for contests to join.
The key to increasing your odds of winning is to enter contests that match your blog’s content, or at least be in the appropriate category. If you have a blog on wine tasting, and you tend to write stream of consciousness essays, then you probably shouldn’t enter a contest focused strictly on educational material for children. Match the contest to your audience and blog content and style.
Not all contests are worth entering. There are plenty of contests which serve no other purpose than the hype and get traffic to their site. Choose a contest worthy of your blog so the award will mean something, and you will be proud to display it on your blog. Your blog is also judged by readers and search engines by the contests you enter and win. Make the award matter.
Meet All the Entry Requirements
The fastest way to be ignored by contest judges or voters is to not meet the criteria set for the contest. This means read all the fine print.
The requirements for entering blog is very diverse. Some require specific web page design criteria, others require some personal information about you (such as disability or age), some require money, others require subject matter related to the contest focus. One blog contest was about “site interactivity” and a blogger was refused entry because “blog comments” were not considered “interactivity”. They have since changed that rule.
Go over the fine print carefully and make sure that you meet all the entry requirements and that you understand what they mean. If your blog doesn’t meet the requirements, go elsewhere to find a contest that suits your blog’s needs.
Don’t take this lightly. Some contests have hundreds or thousands of entries. Overwhelmed with the numbers, they are very fast to throw out any site which hasn’t crossed its T or dotted its I. Stay in the running by reading through the list carefully and making sure that your blog meets their requirements.
Meet Web Standards
Some contests focus only on a blog’s content and style. They aren’t concerned about your blog’s design meeting HTML/XHTML or CSS web standard and validation. Contests which do focus only on the design and layout, though, will test your blog’s code and design thoroughly.
Make sure your blog meets whatever web standards they specific in their requirements. Some require only HTML/XHTML validation. Others require CSS validation, too. Many of them require your blog meets all accessibility standards including Section 508.
With the attention and linking your blog will get by participating in the awards, it’s best to make sure your blog is working well under the hood anyway, for all those visitors and search engines who come to call.
Before you submit your blog for a blog contest, make sure it will impress the contests participants and judges. This doesn’t necessarily mean wow them with a great design, but it does mean you have to have something on your blog to judge.
Impress them with a consistent overall look, good solid content, and clear purpose, focus, and intent.
If you are just entering your blog to get noticed, then pay attention to what makes a blog noticeable. It’s very important to make a solid, good first impression and then maintain that impression throughout your blog, no matter what page the judges are viewing. A lot of people put all their effort into the front page and then ignore the views of the single post view, search results, category and archives pages. Get all of them looking great and all cohesively styled.
Many bloggers who enjoy participating in contests study the previous year’s winners and losers to determine what works and what doesn’t in order to get nominated and win.
Have Quality Content And Information
Quality presentation with quality content and information makes for a solid winner for your readers as well as blog contests. Giving your best performance puts your blog in the spotlight it deserves.
Make sure your blog’s navigation is clear and easy to use. Put search, categories, subscription and feed information in clear and obvious places so visitors don’t have to hunt for them.
Make sure that people know where they are and who they are visiting, and what content to expect within.
Content is king. The better content you have to offer, the more likely people are to return, and the more likely you will score points with the contest judges. This isn’t about long essays, but about quality over quantity. Make it look good, sound good, and be readable with clear intelligent sentences and spelling. Even if it’s a photoblog, make the images be of consistent quality and presentation style throughout your blog.
Keep the blog focused and on topic. The occasional rage or off topic post if fine, but judges appreciate consistent effort and subject matter. They want to know that you are the expert on your topic. Make all of your blog posts top rate since you never know which post the judges will land on when they visit your blog.
More Blog and Website Award Winning Tips
Here are some more tips to help you win blog awards.
- Easy to read
- Easy to access and navigate
- Clean and clear design and layout
- Using interesting and/or novel eye catching techniques
- Write about what you know.
- Show enthusiasm for your subject.
- Narrow your subject/topic focus.
- Meet your reader’s needs not yours.
- Make them want to come back for more.
- Post often – keep the content coming.
- Think about your writing changing the world or making it a better place as you write.
- Present information in a distinctive way.
- Spell check, spell check, spell check, and grammar check.
- Proof read your stuff – twice.
Getting The Votes
For contests which are open to anyone voting, it helps your blog to promote your participation in the contest and to encourage your readers to “get out the vote” for your blog. But it feels a little self-serving to solicit votes from you readers.
If you want to win, you have to promote your blog and the contest.
Start with adding the contest badge to your blog with a link to your voting page or category, like this one to the right to vote for Lorelle on WordPress for the Blogger’s Choice Awards (Okay, cheap shot, but I’m in great company – go check them out!). Then make an announcement on your blog that you have been nominated and encourage your readers to vote for you. Help them to vote by explaining how the process works, especially if it involves a few steps.
Depending upon the length of the contest voting period, regularly remind your readers to vote for you. Give them a reason. Start writing great stuff and include a link and/or the badge at the bottom of the post if you are determined to win the contest.
In the last days before the voting ends, push a little harder with your reminders, but don’t nag or push. Make it natural and show your excitement at being in the running. Some bloggers love to keep score so they promote the fact that they are at number 8, up 4 points from two days ago, and even challenging their readers to “guess” at how many total points their blog will get by X date.
On the last day, you can announce that the deadline is due, and then follow it up in the next few days with a thank you to all who voted and helped you get to whatever level you are in the competition.
If you are shy and reticent about all that fuss, then just post the badge and let your blog’s fans do the work for you. Let the award come naturally without pushing or shoving your way to the top.
Have fun with your nomination so others will have fun with it, too. After all, your readers are on the only ones who matter, no matter how many “love me” signs you have on your blog wall. It’s the ones who keep coming faithfully back for more who give you the highest honors your blog can receive.
Once you have won an award or three, display them prominently on your blog, but not forever. Take them down after a few months and create an Awards Page to showcase your trophies. And then go find some more awards to add to your showcase.
Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on Lorelle on WordPress.