How to Boost SEO for your Contest or Giveaway Using a Custom Domain

Learn how to boost your contest or giveaway's visibility and engagement by customizing the URL and utilizing SEO strategies.

By Jessica Miller-McNatt ・5 min read
Best Practices
Campaign & Contest Ideas

It only takes a minute to slap a post on Facebook or Instagram that says “Giveaway Time! Comment on this post to enter.” However, the effort that you put into such a contest is about equivalent to what you’ll get out of it - some engagement, maybe a few extra Page likes or follows, but that’s about it!When you graduate from the five minute timeline contest and use a contest-building platform to build and publish a contest to a landing page, you’ll really reap some benefits.For starters, you can build just about anything you can dream up, from photo and video contests, to personality and trivia quizzes, to a “vote to enter” giveaway - the sky’s the limit. These types of campaigns get much more engagement and collect real, valuable data (like an email address) that can be used for future marketing, which is way more useful than a like or a comment.

Another bonus: when building a landing page, you can brand the look and feel of the contest to bolster the brand awareness of your business and increase your campaign’s credibility.

Lastly, one major and often overlooked benefit to building a contest or giveaway that is published to a landing page, is the opportunity to use the URL to boost its SEO. The result of which is in an increase in discoverability and organic traffic, which ultimately equals more entries!In this article, we’ll do a deep dive into the best ways to customize your URL and the benefits of each. But first, let’s talk a little bit about SEO.

What is SEO and how does it work?

In a nutshell, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making your website more visible to search engines. This means that when someone searches for certain keywords related to your site, the SEO will help determine how high your site is ranked among the results.

Boost SEO

The goal of SEO is to rank as high as possible on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). A search can show well over 100 Million results. A recent study showed that 65% of people won’t look beyond the first five results on the SERP. For those that do, very few will look beyond the first page. In fact, 95% of people won’t even bother to click on page two. Therefore, the harsh reality is that if you don’t rank toward the top of the first page, it’s almost like you don’t exist at all.Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that SEO is worth fighting for, but the good news is that a better ranking doesn’t take much fighting at all - it takes patience, consistency, and knowing a few tricks of the trade.Most SEO resources will list SEO tricks that are meant for “permanent” content such as your business’ website or blog. Boosting SEO for your contests and giveaways is a slightly different animal because their lifespan is usually somewhat short. In this article, we’ll be looking at customizing the URL for your contest landing pages as well as workarounds to get the best SEO for short-term content.

Embed Your Landing Page to an Existing Website

Embedding your contest or giveaway means placing embed code in your website’s back-end, so your contest or giveaway displays within a webpage on it. For example, if your website’s URL is, this means, the URL for your embedded contest or giveaway could be

Boost SEO

View this ExampleUtilizing the URL of your website lends credibility to your embedded contest or giveaway. Since participants recognize the URL as trustworthy, it primes them to fill in your entry form with their personal information, which is not an easy feat in this age of heightened online security.But beyond trustworthiness and branding, what are the SEO-related benefits to embedding a contest or giveaway? If you’ve already put some SEO work into your website, embedding a contest or giveaway can capitalize on some of the work you’ve already done. In other words, if your website is already pulling in organic traffic, you may as well drive that same traffic to your embedded contest.Embedding is far and above better than using the campaign’s default URL, which, depending on how you build and publish it, could look as innocuous as This immemorable URL would never rank high enough on SERP to get traffic. But, when looking to get the most bang for your SEO buck, embedding isn’t your only option. For better SEO potential, you’ll want to create a URL completely separate from your website. For this, you’ll need to set up a custom domain.

Create a Custom Domain for your Contest or Giveaway

If embedding your contest or giveaway is good, like, scoring decent seats to see Beyoncé good, then a custom domain is like getting backstage to meet the Queen Bey herself. In a word, it’s better.To use a custom domain for your contest or giveaway, you first need to own the domain. If you’re able to fork out a bit of cash (sometimes as little as $0.99), the investment is well worth it. Custom domains offer a long list of SEO-related benefits.For starters, a custom domain allows you to specifically brand your contest using a combination of branding and keywords. For example, combines the company’s brand with the keywords “photo” and “contest”. I should mention that a simple Google search of the word “contest” displayed this result on the first page. Not bad, Nikon!

Boost SEO

Using a custom domain allows you to implement a strategy that not only boosts the SEO for your contest, but improves the SEO for your website. If you know a thing or two about SEO, you’ll know that backlinks are another important factor when determining ranking. To get the most bang for your custom domain buck, always link back to your website from the contest. In the Nikon example listed above, the contest has a link back to their main website - you create more than one campaign throughout the year (which is always a smart approach for any business) use the same custom domain with a unique path for each. For example, you can use as your custom domain with “spring-photo-contest” as your path to look like this: Then, in the fall, when you run another contest, simply use the same custom domain, but with a new path - All of the quality content associated with the domain will give search engines a better understanding of your business, thusly boosting your SERP ranking.

Bonus tip: When using a custom domain with a customized path, leave that campaign published even after it has ended. Simply add some text saying the contest is over. The longevity of the published campaign will continue to boost your ranking.

Lastly, setting up a custom domain for your contest or giveaway is easier than you think, even for the less than tech-savvy. And after the initial installation, publishing new campaigns to the custom domain is a breeze - far simpler than embedding new campaigns to a web page. More and more people are steering clear of social media these days. When hosting a contest or giveaway, it’s smart to cast your net wide enough to include everyone - social media users, and non-users alike. Building an autonomous landing page means you can capture leads from everywhere, both on and off social media. By boosting SEO with a custom domain or embedded campaign, you’ll be driving organic traffic to it and getting the most ROI from your contest or giveaway.If you’re looking for a contest builder that can help you build and publish campaigns using a custom domain, ShortStack is where it’s at. Have a custom domain set up in just a few steps - even customize the path for best SEO results.

Try a ShortStack template to create your first contest fast and easily.

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About the author

By Jessica Miller-McNatt ・5 min read

Jessica Miller-McNatt has been with ShortStack for over a decade and has served in every role from Marketing Team Lead to Customer Success. Her journey in martech continues to fuel her fascination for what drives growth. Jessica's favorite weekends are spent in the North Georgia mountains, chasing waterfalls and exploring with her family.

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