SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It often is the difference between an event website receiving thousands of qualified visitors each month, or simply sitting on the back pages of Google in obscurity.
For many, SEO is a mysterious marketing strategy. Most don’t know how to optimize a website at all, while some know a few SEO basics but could use some pointers.
This article will teach readers three principles that should always be followed when building an event website, so let’s get started!
Principle 1: SEO Takes Time
Unlike other forms of marketing, SEO cannot be rushed. It takes time to build a great event website, time to research the proper keywords, and time to optimize the experience for website visitors. Simply stuffing a webpage with keywords is not going to help your site rank quickly.
Google sends millions of crawlers out on the web, what the crawlers bring back (web pages) are indexed using an algorithm so complicated even people who work at Google don’t understand how it works.
With time (think a few weeks or up to six months), positive changes that you make to your event website will help to boost your rankings.
Event marketers should plan to spend at least three weeks optimizing a website before it will begin ranking for some of your target keywords. In some cases, the keywords being targeted may be so difficult that it could take many months for your website to rank well for them.
If you are in a real hurry, you can always submit your website to be re-indexed by Google (though doing so may take some technical understanding). Follow these instructions to do that.
Another way to speed up the ranking process is to submit a sitemap to Google. A sitemap helps Google understand all of the different pages on your event website, event organizers have the ability to rank pages in order of importance - meaning Google may choose to rank the page you listed as most important higher than other pages on your site. Here’s Google’s advice on how to build a sitemap.
Principle 2: You Can't Cheat Google
There are two kinds of ways to do SEO: “white hat” (good/ethical) ways, and “black hat” (bad/unethical) ways. Always make sure to improve search rankings using white hat methods - resist the dark side at all costs.
Beware of companies that offer link building services. Usually, these predatory consultants will offer to sell you thousands of links pointing to your website, they will claim it will help your site rank better on search engines.
The truth is, these services won’t help you. In fact, most black hat methods will lead to penalties from Google and other search engines, meaning you will be less likely to generate traffic from search.
Avoid other unethical SEO strategies like “stuffing” a page with the keyword you are trying to rank for. This method used to work 7 or 8 years ago, but not today.
Instead of these black hat methods, focus on white hat SEO tactics. Some of these tactics include making sure the each web page has a unique and relevant Title tag, URL, Header tag, and building a portfolio of backlinks from reputable websites.
To learn more about these tactics, you can download a free and recently updated eBook on SEO.
Principle 3: Don’t Over-Rely On Search
Businesses that over-rely on search traffic to generate leads are running a risk. Instead, be sure to develop multiple marketing channels capable of attracting event registrants. Email, social media and paid ads are some good marketing channels to work on in addition to generating qualified traffic from organic search.
There are a countless number of examples of businesses that have been hurt by changes to Google’s search algorithm. One day, they are bringing in many qualified visitors, and the next, their web page is nowhere to be seen. To protect against this, avoid using black hat techniques to improve rankings, and hedge your bets by choosing at least one other marketing channel to dominate.
What To Do Next
It will be difficult to become an SEO expert overnight, some spend their whole lives dedicated to search optimization. However, there are a few simple things you can do to improve the performance of your website.
One is to understand that SEO can take time. Build that into your event marketing plan, rather than getting yourself into a panic and searching for last minute search optimization fixes.
Another tip is to always opt for the ethical SEO solution, in the majority of cases, white hat tactics are more effective and black hat tactics will end up getting your site penalized by search engines.
Finally, be sure to develop other marketing channels capable of bringing qualified leads should changes to search algorithms or to your event website lead to lower than expected results.
To learn much more about SEO specifically for event planners/marketers, download this free eBook!