Hey event marketers, when you're deep in the planning and promotion stage of your brand's upcoming experience, how do you advertise it to the world? If it's a stunt, you post vague location announcements and invite press. If it's a festival, you get the word out early, creating a ticketing microsite and a unique social media presence. If it's an annual experience, you build off of the previous year's momentum.
Even with a unique promotion plan for each event type, they all have one thing in common - they depend on SEO to drive awareness.
SEO is social media's older, less attractive sister and most event marketers don't give her nearly enough attention. Too many think SEO (search engine optimization for those that are racking their brains for the full term right now) is only about improving a website's Google ranking - a long term strategy too often overlooked in the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants event world. Instead, event marketers put all of their focus on social media, considering it an inexpensive promotion channel with seemingly instant results.
But search is vital to an event's overall success. Understanding how your brand's audience uses search will positively impact the digital conversation in the days and weeks leading up to your event and create a baseline for all future brand event experiences.
Here are five simple tools to kick off your event's SEO strategy:
1. Create a shareable event: Your consumers who are already interested in attending your event don't want to waste their time scouring for your site. Make it easy for your site to be found by including your brand name in the title, along with details such as date, city, venue, or area of interest. As people register to attend, provide them with clear, pre-populated social sharing links and email them as instant trigger message, thanking them for registering, providing follow up information, and, once again, encouraging them to share the invite with friend
2. Focus on reach: When SEO is done well, your event will be easy to find online, even for the most secure and limiting internet searches. Provide alt text for all images, so users who are unable to download accompanying graphics (and the search engines themselves) still have enough context to understand what you wished they could be viewing. For all your event site’s images, make sure to include important keywords when it makes sense in the context of the image.
Search engines are also unable to see videos. Therefore, it's good practice to publish transcripts of the content, (or offer screen captioning) so screen readers and search engines can read the text and thereby make it available for search engines.
3. Make your event's website beautiful and responsive: You want to create a grade-A experience for the search engine robots that will be crawling your site with clear headlines and anchor text. Ensure that each section is separated with headlines using <h1> code header tags, highlighted text, increased text size, or bolding. Anchor text is the text that is highlighted in a link and must provide enough context for the link's they're taking your visitors to.
4. Remember, there's more to search than Google: Social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, act as search engines, too. SEO strategy isn't only about getting to the #1 spot on Google, it's about breaking through the social noise and spam accounts, so your audience not only finds the search terms they're looking for, but are confident they are coming directly from your brand.
Make it super simple for your audience to identify official social profiles by deleting duplicate accounts, clearly labeling each social account so that users understand what purpose they serve, and working to "get verified" on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. A consistently branded, high quality social media presence could potentially help your search ranking by providing “social proof” (legitimacy) to your event's site.
5. Use your event website to boost your overall brand ranking: The entire point of experiential marketing and producing brand event's is to create a positive experience for your consumers, which will increase positive association and drive sales. When optimizing your content, think of the variety of search engines that exist. Where you choose to focus your optimization efforts will depend on your goals, but posting fresh, high quality content regularly is the best way to reach more people using search.
Consider the way the event site content, links, and keywords all work together to provide a better experience for your ideal audience. Are you linking back to your brand's site? Consider your SEO strategy holistically and see how the event website could provide even more value to the overall brand.
Photo courtesy: Pexels