The SEO Cup winners: How they did it

A few months back through the magic of social media I started following David Edmundson-Bird, the Principal Lecturer in Digital & Social Media Comms at Manchester Met. SEO sage Dawn Anderson had just completed her Masters there and I think had tagged David in a few messages.

A few months later David tweeted something about the #SEOCup. Ever competitive I wanted to find out how one went about winning.

— Side note here to give a nod to DSMMCM1819 competitors, Digital Koda, who were the first to have the chutzpah to message me and ask for a link. Here you go team. —

Long story short, it’s a competition David runs to help motivate students on one of his courses. I asked if I could help and David suggested offering a prize for the winners.

Happy to say I was able to dispatch two highly sought after Optimisey t-shirts to the winners – one of whom (Nichelle) also kindly agreed to write a guest post about what they did; how; why and what they learned along the way. Over to Nichelle…

The M.Bus (Hons) course at Manchester Metropolitan University is a four-year integrated Master’s degree that allows students to gain higher-level skills in business and really stand out to employers. The first three years are broadly in common with the BA (Hons) Business Management degree, complemented with an integrated industrial experience in consultancy.

As part of the overall course teachings, students are given the option to choose an elective unit that they would like to specialise in. Nadine Osei and I (Nichelle Wood) opted for the Digital and Social Media Marketing Communications Management unit – ‘DSMMCM’ for short – as Marketing is an area that we have both been studying and enjoyed since high school. Over the duration of this unit, we learned how to:

  • Create a digital & social media marketing strategy
  • Develop a digital and social media marketing programme and campaign
  • Evaluate and justify digital marketing levers for use in campaigns
  • Evaluate the success of digital and social media marketing campaigns
  • In addition to the core teachings of the unit (listed above), our lecturer – David Edmundson-Bird – encouraged the students on the unit to participate in the SEO Cup Competition.

The SEOCup Trophy

This SEO Cup Competition has been undertaken by previous students on the course for the past couple of years and is an incentive alongside the core studies.

The key to winning this competition is to create a website and to get it to rank 1st in Google’s SERP (organically) for the keyword ‘DSMMCM1718.’

The basis of the competition sounds relatively straight-forward but it actually requires a well-thought-out plan. As Nadine and I are always up for a challenge, we decided that we would participate. Thus, we formed a two-man team called VantageCreations (spontaneous naming) and utilised WIX as the host of our website. [Ouch! – Ed]

From the get-go Nadine and I decided that the best way to organically increase our ranking on Google’s SERP for the keyword ‘DSMMCM1718’ was to produce content on our website including this keyword.

As this keyword is an acronym for the name of our unit, we agreed that producing weekly blog posts surrounding our learning over the duration of the unit, would allow us to frequently but relevantly include this keyword in the body of our posts and enable Google’s Indexing system to better associate our website with the keyword. Therefore, when our audience search for this keyword, our website would be more likely to appear in the SERP.

In addition to this, Nadine and I also established different communication platforms where our content would be shared to so that we could increase our potential viewers.

After some brief research into the benefits and drawbacks of certain social media platforms, we soon decided that our content would be shared to our VantageCreations’ Facebook and Twitter pages as this is where a bigger percentage of our audience was.

As we were looking to grow our audience, it was soon discernible that including the ‘DSMMCM1718’ keyword by itself was a major flaw when sharing our content as our audience was unable to understand the meaning of the keyword.

To correct this, we undertook research into the importance of keywords when producing content to better understand how to use them and what types of keywords VantageCreations should be using to promote our content. We found that including relative keywords such as ‘SEO’, ‘SocialMediaMarketing’ and ‘DigitalMarketing’ were increasingly helpful in communicating with our followers on Facebook and Twitter.

To understand how the website and the ‘DSMMCM1718’ keyword was performing, I took the initiative to connect our website with Google Search Console and Google Analytics so that VantageCreations could analyse the type of content that our audience were more attuned to.

As Nadine was unfamiliar with analytics services such as these, I took the lead in gathering and analysing the essential data.

By connecting our website to Google Search Console and Google Analytics, we found that Twitter was the platform where our keyword and content performed the best and found that our audience(s) were primarily Influencers and those that were generally interested in Marketing.

This allowed us to tweak the content of our blog posts to better suit our audience and gain more followers to promote our content.

Through the use of keyword research, social media platforms and insight into our analytics, VantageCreations quickly took the 1st position in Google’s SERP for the keyword ‘DSMMCM1718.’

However, many of our competitors were also climbing the ranks and were threatening to overtake us.

Due to this, Nadine and I decided to undertake research into what our competitors were doing to see if we could capitalise on areas where they were lacking.

For example, one of our competitors frequently engaged in discussions with different ‘Marketing Gurus’ on Twitter but failed to create a beneficial link with these people by directing them to their own content.

Understanding the importance of establishing and maintaining links with our target audience, VantageCreations also set out to contact experts within the field to discuss what VantageCreations could do to improve our SEO and SERP.

By directing these experts to our content and receiving feedback from them, we were able to create a direct link that benefited us in terms of driving traffic to our content and increasing exposure to our keyword.

Overall, the journey to becoming a winner of the SEO Cup Competition has been no short plight as these are just a few of the initiatives that VantageCreations had undertaken to secure 1st Place in Google’s SERP.

Although the core teachings of the unit have broadened our knowledge on how to execute a digital and social media marketing campaign, the SEO Cup Competition has given us the necessary knowledge and skills to better pursue a job in digital marketing.

Winning this competition has been a wonderful experience for Nadine and I, and we are excited to see where the future takes us.

Soon, VantageCreations will be dissolved in the next few months as we ultimately head our separate ways. Nadine will be pursuing her Master’s in Marketing and I will be hunting for a graduate job in Marketing.

Thanks for sticking along with us!

Nichelle Wood & Nadine Osei – VantageCreations

Congratulations to both of them and a big thanks to Nichelle for writing this post.

You can see more of their work over at or find them on LinkedIn: Nichelle Wood & Nadine Osei.

Thanks also to their lecturer, David, not only for the idea and allowing me to get involved but also for the photos in this article.

As Nichelle says, she’s looking for a graduate job in marketing, so if you’re recruiting and looking for a smart go-getter with some up-to-date skills, get in touch with her (or feel free to drop me a note and I’ll put you in touch).

Posted in: SEO

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