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We’re big on competitions, and on you

It’s been some time since we last posted an update to our blog and after receiving a few complaints about a change we made today, we thought it’s a good time to get in touch. First, let’s tell you where we are at the moment.

As some of you may know, we’ve come a long way. When we started back in 2008, we could never have imagined the success in visitor numbers that we’ve seen. Year after year we saw big growth as more and more people discovered WinStuff. Some thought WinStuff to be such a good idea, they built their own. Some made it, many didn’t. It takes serious dedication to keep a website like WinStuff competitive amongst the big media sites and up until a couple of months ago, we fared extremely well. We were the number one website when people searched for competitions and we kept that spot for years. Sometimes our competition took over, but we always shot back up since we brought you new competitions on a regular basis and also because we kept our visitors’ experience in mind in everything we built into the site – which is still something we do to the day.

A lot has changed on other fronts however, especially how the search engines decide on which sites to rank higher, which ones offer a more valuable source of information based on a user’s search and which domain has more overall authority over another. We’re not going to go into detail here on exactly how this works but the point simply is, being ranked high is a major factor in whether or not a site is successful and without a good ranking, most websites simply cannot sustain themselves and close down.

WinStuff has run into exactly this problem. We went from number one in search results to number three and we see ever more weight being awarded to big media websites simply because of their vast online presence and millions of monthly visitors. A website like WinStuff is simply dwarfed by the content and visitor numbers of these sites, and even though our content is exactly what our visitors are searching for when they find us, the search engines now still give more weight to the overall domain authority, and while you could do your utmost in delivering to you users needs, we simply cannot compete with the numbers of those sites.

So what’s the solution?

Option one – Cheat
Many more websites than you care to imagine try to outwit the search engines. They try to fool them into thinking they’re a more relevant source of information about a certain topic than the next. Even more scary, many of them get it right. Some of our competitors have done this in the past, suddenly going from non-existent to the number one ranking page in our niche. The problem with this however is that in the end, they get caught out. Their search rank swindling gets them into hot water and before they know it, they get a big hiding. Besides being completely unethical, it doesn’t pay off, and we won’t do it.

Option two – Take over the world.
We’re still thinking about it.

Option three – charge for your services
As we mentioned earlier. We need to keep the numbers high to pay the bills, and hopefully make a little money on the side. One of the amazing things about the internet is that when it comes to information, it’s mostly a free marketplace. A place where you can get any information you want, completely free. If someone charges for it, there will be other people giving it away fro free. The information websites owners offer is in today’s world something they need to provide free, and can in most cases only capitalize on the traffic through other means. In WinStuff’s case, sell advertising.  Many websites have gone from being a free online resource to a membership based subscription site, and most have failed for doing so. So we won’t go there and besides, we don’t want to charge our visitors for what we do.

Option four – ask your visitors to help you grow.
This is the one we decided on, for now at least. So what exactly are we doing, and why? To pick up what we’ve been talking about earlier, we need visitors to keep going and to get visitors we need to rank well in search. While there are many factors that determine your ranking, social media has become an extremely important factor. Search engines are now clever enough to pick up on social signals; people liking a post on Facebook, retweeting a link to your page, sharing one of your posts on Google+ and so on. Put simply, we need people to talk about us and share our content on these networks and hopefully, we’ll get some weight and authority assigned to our website. While we’ve always made it easy to share our content, most people don’t. And they have the right not to. Something we’ve kept that in mind when we introduced our change. We do however need a bit more sharing going on for the reasons explained above, so this is what we did.

When we post new competitions on WinStuff they’re available on the front page of our website and when we do, we post links to them on Facebook and Twitter. When a new competition is posted anyone visiting the site on that day, or anyone happening to notice the post on their social network can click through to the competition we posted about and click the enter button to enter the competition – the same as they’ve always done. After a couple of days however, after we’ve given everyone the opportunity to click through and enter the competition, we ask for something small in return. To enter a competition that has been listed on the site for a couple of days, we’re going to start asking our visitors to share the competition they would like to enter and once they do, give them the link to the competition. We’ve kept in mind and completely understand that you do not want to share everything you do online, and that is why we only ask this of you after there has been some time to get it. We feel this is a fair request, and one that some feel is too much to ask, and thus the reason for our post. We wanted to make it clear that we’re not going to do this with every competition, and that if you would like to enter a competition when we post it, you’ll be able to do it without having to share it first as long as you get in early.

We said earlier that our visitors are at the core of everything we do so we invite you to please give us your opinion and let us know in the comments below what you think about the change. At the end of the day, we won’t be here if it wasn’t for you, and if we have to, well find another way of doing things.

Thanks for taking the time to read this far and we hope you’ll stick around :)

The WinStuff team.

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