Each month the Bizzabo hosts a webinar aimed at helping event organinzers better market and manage events. A recent webinar was about SEO best practices for those tasked with promoting an event. For readers who were unable to attend, you can watch the webinar recording here.
While many channels are being used to market an event, many overlook just how important search engines are at driving traffic to an event website, and how critical search is during the "discovery" phase of a buyer's journey before they are familiar with an event brand.
Other than direct traffic (which is when someone types in an exact URL in a web browser) organic search is the most popular method for navigating to a website. It accounts for about 28.5% of all traffic driven to websites on the internet. In short, search engines are critically important for those interested in increase event registrations, because it has the power to drive many qualified visitors to an event website.
Many in the SEO community use the term search and Google interchangeably, and based on the image below, it's easy to understand why.
According to Statista, about 91.5% of all search volume occurs on Google, the other 8.5% occurs primarily on Bing, Yahoo Search and Baido (a platform popular in Asia). In short, most searches happen on Google, and the changes that Google makes to search have a enormous impact on the visibility of an event website online.
Changes to search are happening quickly and as is seen in the timeline below we are entering an era of "voice search" which means that the way people interact with search results is going to be much different in a few years than it was a few years ago.
This means that event organizers interested in driving visits to an event website, will need to focus on producing uniquely valuable content that can not simply be paraphrased in a voice search. It also means that organizers may need to ensure that event attendees will able to register for an event through voice. (Today this functionality is not offered by voice platforms, but is something that could be offered in the future).
For event organizers just getting started with events and SEO, it's typically a best practice to start targeting keywords that have a "long tail." These are keyword phrases that are fairly specific and have a low search volume, but because the search volume is low, the keyword difficulty is also low.
For event organizers interested in driving many visitors to an event website via search engines, it may be best to focus on "fat head" keywords. These are keywords that have a high search volume but also have a high difficulty rating because the keywords are so popular.
Once you have selected the keyword to focus on, you'll need to think about the kind of content that the target event attendee will be interested in consuming. It's likely that Google will already have a good deal of information about the searcher on file. After all, they collect data from platforms like Chrome, Gmail, Google Docs, Android and Google+ to create a rich profile of each of us. Based on this profile different types of content will be more likely to be presented in a search.
Build your marketing personas and based on that information decide on a content type, whether it's video, an image (perhaps in infographic) short or long form content, choose the one that you think your target audience will find most relevant.
Then, build webpages that smartly uses keywords to prove to search engines that the page should rank for the target keyword(s).
Note that the keyword phrase should be used in the page URL, Title Tag, image Alt-Text, Header and in the plain text of the page. But event organizers should avoid "keyword stuffing," or over using a keyword phrase.
Organizers should also try to include topically related terms, as Google has developed a clear picture of the kinds of associated words that should be on a webpage when a specific topic is being searched. To research topically related terms, examine the pages that already rank well for the target keyword phrase and analyze them to see if certain phrases are repeatedly used. Also take a look at the terms the target audience is using on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and even Quora or Medium.
There are a few other on-page ranking factors that those interested in events and SEO should pay attention to. Organizers must make sure that the event website being used in mobile responsive and not just mobile optimized. A responsive page will function properly on any size screen, while and optimized page is designed for specific screen sizes. If a smartphone maker comes out with a new phone size, a responsive site will look just fine, an optimized site will not. Sites that are mobile responsive will rank better in mobile search results than those that are not.
Organizers should also try to use HTTPS rather than HTTP code, since Google looks like it will increasingly reward sites hosted with the secure HTTPS framework. Additionally, Google tends to reward pages that have a fast page speed, you can test yours by clicking here.
If you employed some shady SEO practices in the past, your event website may be penalized by Google. You can take steps to disavow bad links are pointing to your event website, which might improve your spam score by clicking here.
Once you have created a webpage that is optimized for search by following the on-page tips above, it's a great idea to start working on some of the off-page ranking factors like link building. In the slide above, I outline the difference between a high-quality link and a low-quality link.
High quality links are from reputable websites, they are usually inserted toward the top of the page, and the anchor text includes the target keyword phrase of the page being linked to. (Click here is not very good anchor text, but 2016 tech events is good anchor text for example).
Conversely, a bad link is one that is embedded in a low quality website, that doesn't include good or any anchor text, and that is placed toward the bottom of the page. Links that are associated with a "no-follow" tag, are not even indexed by Google and therefore do not count. So if you're thinking of employing a link building strategy, be sure to check and see if the link is associated with a "no-follow" tag, if it is, you might want to ask the website owner to remove it.
For additional event SEO resources, you can click here to watch a recording of the webinar, or you can click the button below to get a free ebook on events and SEO.