This post looks at ways to maximize the exposure of your event website in Google Search.
Despite the hype on social media, SEO remains a rock solid foundation of eCommerce. 'What has that got to do with me?'- you may ask. Well if you sell your event tickets online, congratulations, your business is based on eCommerce.
Good news is that search marketing is not the rocket science it used to be. Ranking higher in Google is possible and you have to go for it. A large chunk of your revenue may depend on it.
OK but how do I do that?
First and Foremost, Your Website
Making sure that your website is search engine friendly is a must. Some questions you may ask yourself:
Despite lots of discussion around the subject, having a Flash based event website may not be the best choice. In fact gaining the same SEO benefits of a text based interface may not be as easy.
My suggestion is to use free, open source solutions for content management such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. As you may be aware by now, WordPress is my favourite option.
Study Your Keywords
What are the keywords you are trying to target?
I find this is the single most important question when it gets to better indexing.
You should start brainstorming about the keywords your potential attendee searches for. If you run a networking event for the property development industry in Washington, D.C., you may want to start isolating "networking events in Washington" "property development events in Washington" as potentially successful keywords.
Next step is to drill down to what keywords have the highest volume of search and the smallest amount of competition. Google has a great tool to do that. I invite you to play with it extensively until you find your niches and opportunities.
What are the best keywords to select? - You may ask yourself.
3 Golden principles: Be specific, avoid competition and analyze conversion rate.
Have a Clear Website Structure
I have heard some commentators saying that designing a website structure around SEO is like designing a prison to facilitate escape. It may be true in some cases. If your website is constantly updated with fantastic content that draws audiences in thousands from social media, SEO structure is not a high priority.
For the rest of us, we want to have a clear website structure in place designed around our keywords. Joost de Valk wrote one of the best posts on building a clear structure for your website. I invite you to read it thoroughly.
Once you have designed your structure, it is time to generare a sitemap and submit it to Google. First you will have to register with Google Webmaster Tools and update your sitemap. Once again, WordPress has a plugin that performs the process automatically.
Are You in the Top 3?
Let's see where we are. You picked an optimized CMS, targeted keywords and a clear structure for your website.
However, you are probably not getting lots of visits.
You'd be interested to know that the top 3 results on Google get 58% of the total clicks.
If you are not in the top 3 you are doomed to get 1 visit a month. Or are you?
You'll be happy to know, dear reader, that there are ways to make it to the top or to at least bother the big guys at the top.
Content. This is when social media comes to the rescue. Great content that gets shared on social networks and drives organic traffic to your website is very well received by Google. The most recognized way to spread your content is to run a well conceived and constantly updated blog on your event topic.
Event professionals do not realize an often overlooked key asset in the content game: speakers and performers. Involving those who attract your audience in writing targeted content for your event website will drive interest and traffic. Go for it.
Video. Video has a substantial impact on search. It changes the way users consume Google Search and therefore represent a juicy opportunity to make it to the top. I've written on the subject when looking at Youtube as a medium to host video and in the future to stream your events live.
Drive Traffic Where You Convert More
I recently talked at a webinar about the subject organized by the sponsor of this blog, Cvent (check their cool blog) and Meetingsnet with 1100 registered event professionals (available to listen on demand and for free here - just register).
I also wrote up my intervention on Social Advertising and its impact on Google. I suggest you dedicate some time to explore these commentaries as they can really make the difference in achieving your goals.
We've looked at how optimizing your website, studying your keywords, having a clear structure in place, using blogs or video and driving traffic through social advertising are great tactics to get you to the top of Google. This is where most of our perspective attendees begin their journey and cannot be ignored by the savvy event professional.
Will it make a difference?
Well, as Vince Lombardi once said "The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand."