How to Use Awards to Build Backlinks for Your Site

In today’s article, I want to share with you a backlink strategy that is a little bit less often used but is being used by a number of really successful tech companies in order to get some meaningful backlinks to their website. This methodology is really useful for driving two key things. The first thing is getting new backlinks, but the second thing is also engaging your customer base so that they love you even more and that they feel recognized.

The reason why this tactic works so effectively is because it really gets at the core essence of just being human and wanting to get recognized for efforts. So hopefully, you’re going to have a stronger idea of how you might be able to deploy this for your own website or in the case where you’re running a company, you might be able to use this as part of your digital marketing strategy

So at a high level, the strategy for today is to think about a way in which you can recognize your users or your customers, or just surrounding people in your space that are related to what your site does. So let’s say, for example, you’re an education website.

Well, something that you might be doing is you might be working with teachers to help their students learn faster. And so something you might want to think about is how to come up with some sort of award that recognizes the most active users on your website, and then give a shout out to those teachers, whether it’s through some sort of digital badge or some sort of recognition that they can be given in order to feel valued. And this is exactly what the first example I’m going to pull up for today does.

Example #1: IXL backlink strategy

So this company is called IXL. They’ve been around for 20 plus years and they generate millions of dollars in revenue and they use this tactic every single year as both an opportunity to engage with their superuser while also building backlinks for their website. Let’s go ahead and take a look at what this looks like from the IXL side.

So hopping right in, what you can see on IXL’s website is that they are all about personalizing learning. They’re actually a really commonly used tool if you have ever talked to an elementary school student or a middle school student. Many times schools are using IXL to supplement their online learning.

But what I want to draw your attention to is actually what IXL calls their elite 100. It’s a little bit hard to find in terms of their core pages, but this is a really valuable page for them. And the reason why is because this elite 100 has been going back since 2014 and has been a consistent strategy every single year for IXL to recognize many of their teachers that are on their website. So you can see here that there are all sorts of teachers that are coming from every single state in the United States. And what’s happening here is IXL is essentially featuring these teachers with some sort of award that talks about the ways that they are seeing wins with their product.

So right off the bat, they’re making this an opportunity to engage their users while also showing off their users and potentially getting some backlinks for the website. Why does this work? Well, it works because it essentially gets at the core of why somebody would want to put something up on their fridge.

If you ever want to put up something noteworthy on your fridge, it’s because you felt like you were seeing, you were recognized and that’s exactly what IXL is doing right here. And another reason why this works is because it creates a level of hype with users. And so if I were to just go into YouTube actually, I can look for the IXL elite 100 and I will find teachers that are actually making videos about them receiving this award.

So if we just want to go ahead and jump into YouTube, what you can see here is that I’ve hopped into YouTube and I’ve just searched IXL elite 100 and you can see some top placements around a local teacher that was named to IXL learning elite 100 as well as a teacher that posted a video six years ago featuring their award for their students and opening that award up.

Why is this really useful?

Why is this really useful? Well, it’s really useful because I bet you if we were to look up these two new stations that did cover this topic, that they actually linked back to IXL when this happened. But just to prove the point, let’s go and actually pull this up in Google to see if we can come up with the original page where this may have been featured.

Let’s take a look at kvoa.com website, this a is Tucson’s local news and what you can see here is that this local teacher was named to IXL Learnings Elite 100. And if we go here, there actually isn’t a backlink to this particular website here. So maybe this one isn’t the best example, but when we might be able to do it, as we might be to see it from other places and see where it might’ve been picked up.

So let’s go ahead and take a look at some of these other posts to see if specifically, we might be able to find other places where IXL actually did get a backlink. Let’s see the nbc24.com. So here we can see here now, just like that, you can see in this bottom corner of this different post on the Ohio Virtual School Academy Teacher, that they received a backlink from NBC 24 right here.

And so this is a really effective strategy for IXL because it creates a lot of buzz around their product, it makes them look really good with their users, it makes their users happy and they get backlinks from local news networks. If we dig a little bit deeper into IXL strategy, we’ll see how they’re also working the PR side of things to get backlinks here.

For example, we can see on this PR Newswire respective page, you can see that they have announced their elite 100. They release a presser around these teachers every single year, and then some different news networks or local stations essentially pick up this news. So this is a tried and true tactic that is consistently working for IXL so much so that they have done so since 2014 and they continue to do so every single year.

How you might apply this?

So how might you apply this for yourself? Well, something you need to do is you just need to think about ways in which you can recognize your users and then find a way to contact them or to submit an entry, to be nominated as one of your elite users.

It can start really small where it can just be some sort of virtual badge that you share with these respective users, so they can give a backlink to your site through that badge, or it can be something more intense like IXL in which if you were to actually look at some of the YouTube videos, they send physical awards to these teachers to make them feel really, really special.

And this isn’t just unique to the education world. In fact, there are a ton of other companies that are using the same exact tactic to not only build links, build customer loyalty, but also grow their business.

Example #2: Classy.org backlink strategy

For our second example today, I want to talk about a nonprofit tech website called classy.org. classy.org is a fundraising platform that helps nonprofits when it comes to their respective efforts of being more sustainable. And so what I found when I looked into Classy is that they had something that they call the Classy Awards.

So here, you can see that the Classy Awards are all about celebrating the most innovative non-profits. They’re focused on recognizing the work of nonprofits that are driving impact and then giving away thousands of dollars in their prize pool.

And the reason why this is so helpful is because you can actually see that there’s a history behind these awards. This is a big deal for this company. And what you can see is that this is something where they’re literally physically recognizing these people in some sort of way, giving them some sort of stage in terms of giving them a presentation or a speech of sorts. And this is a great way for them to drive more attention to not only these non-profits, but also to Classy as a business.

You can tell here just from looking at the 8th Annual Classy Awards, that this has been meaningful for them in a number of ways. The reason why is because it allows them to work with these organizations such as the Greater Boston Food Bank, Fair Labor Association, Shelterbox USA to essentially create these really high production value videos that feature these respective organizations.

So just taking a look here, you can see, these are really nice videos and it makes these organizations look really good as well. And I bet you, if we were to go ahead and just search for the Greater Boston Food Bank, as well as Classy Awards, we might find something of interest. So if I just go ahead and search the Greater Boston Food Bank and Classy Awards, you can see how this was picked up by local news stations in which we have the Boston’s news leader, WCVB covering this particular post and lo and behold, what you’ll see right here is that Classy is getting links back to their Classy Awards page.

Why is this helpful?

So what can you take away from this strategy? Well, it works across industries. It’s not just dependent on the education world or the nonprofit world, and it’s actually even better when you’re able to recognize groups like these nonprofits, because these nonprofits are also usually .org, which will oftentimes have higher domain authorities than some .coms. And they’ll do this over and over again.

By creating these sorts of high production value videos, it makes it a lot more likely to be shared because it’s really easy for the news network or local patch news and things like that to actually share these out in a meaningful way. There you have it from these two examples, you can tell exactly how companies are standing to benefit from this sort of approach of creating their own sort of awards.

You can do this a much more micro scales, for example, you could just create an ultimate list of XYZ and then feature a bunch of different podcasts or books or resource leaders and things like that. And then give them a shout out. It can be something as small as that when you’re starting out. But these two examples should just give you an idea of how far you can take this strategy.

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