The role of SEO in the events industry in 2015

20 February 2015

#UKBA15 shortlisted

#UKBA15 shortlisted

Today, we’re talking to our Digital Marketing Consultant Susie Culhane, about the role of SEO in the events industry in 2015.

Is SEO still important in 2015?

As long as we have search engines, Search Engine Optimisation or SEO will always be important. Put simply, SEO is a way of presenting online content in such a way that search engines can find it, understand it and categorise it.  The search engines then apply a complex formula or algorithm to the content in order to grade or ‘rank’ it. The benefit to the marketer is that this content should then appear in relevant search results, provided the SEO has been carried out properly.

Technological advances and the growth in mobile device use over the past few years have given rise to literally hundreds of search algorithm updates, as the search engines strive to provide the most relevant search results possible to each user. Arguably the most important update in the past few years was Hummingbird, which aims to include ‘context’ or personal factors such as location, device, social connections, browsing history and so forth into the search results for each user.  Hummingbird also included a PageRank update, so that snippets of content rather than complete web pages could be ranked, and therefore appear in search results.

Susie Culhane

Susie Culhane

What does Hummingbird have to do with event marketing?

Hummingbird signalled a change in ranking factors, and consequently a change in SEO.  Now more than ever, marketers need to understand the information requirements of potential customers in order to develop content that will be of interest.  And this is relevant for B2B and B2C marketing in all industries. Identifying the preferred devices, networks, interests and online behaviour of the target market is essential for successful communication.

Are there any specific digital marketing techniques for event organisers which you would recommend?

The events industry has one big advantage when it comes to SEO, which is the natural buzz created around a specific event or party. Events lend themselves well to online conversation, social networking and user generated content (UGC). The term UGC recently came to prominence as a means of delivering fresh, relevant content. Up-to-date unique content which is relevant to a particular search has always been important for SEO, hence why news snippets often rank highly. The search engines also recognise that people trust user content, and often include an element of ‘social buzz’ in the ranking algorithm in order to improve understanding of speech patterns and natural human dialogue.

For event marketing and organising, I recommend researching the channels which your target market are using in order to communicate with them effectively. If the majority of your market use smartphones to access the web, then include mobile optimised content on your website.  If conversation about similar events is taking place on a particular social channel, make best use of that same channel to talk about and promote your event.

Advertise a suitable hashtag with event information so that social conversation is effectively ‘tagged’ and can easily be found by other interested people. This has the added benefit of increasing user interaction with the tagged content – a study by Buddy Media found that adding hashtags can double the engagement of a tweet.  Using hashtags can also extend the lifespan of the conversation surrounding your event. You might also want to consider using contests or competitions which are great for building excitement and contributing to UGC on the social channels.

To increase the chances of your event appearing in relevant search results, create a separate web page which deals with the event, and can be used as a landing page for promotion. Make sure that the page is structured and optimised appropriately, and is regularly updated with new content.  Incorporate UGC on that page if you can, and if that isn’t possible, include links to your other branded channels and regularly share relevant content to them.

Given the competitive nature of the events industry, it’s also worth promoting the USPs of an event, for example an unusual venue or theming, and always use location based targeting when you want to attract local participants.

What do you think are the key digital marketing challenges for 2015?

Communicating via the ever-growing number of devices, platforms, operating systems, and digital advertising channels available. Digital marketing is becoming increasingly complex, therefore it’s   vital to put tracking in place in order to identify what worked, and to use that information when planning future marketing activity.

View Susie Culhane’s LinkedIn profile