I’ve had many conversations with people (usually in the pub) who seem convinced that SEO is not something they need; and I’m always tending to take the line that if it can be tailored in the right way, SEO should be able to provide benefit for anyone or any business. In fact, I quite enjoy bending the rules of a traditional SEO campaign and really making it work for the business or project in question. Whilst trying to rank for big keywords might not be something everyone wants or needs, perhaps protecting branded search or driving traffic to campaigns as and when they happen would be a good fit.
To make more sense of this, I thought I’d walk through an example plan for a musician’s or band’s website. Ranking for something like ‘band’ or ‘blues band’ probably isn’t going to get you too far, and as a goal it might not be the best way to go. I personally think that it would be far more beneficial to get people to the right places as quickly as possible. So as a musician writing your own material who has no real need to rank for something big; what do you need people to find and interact with quickly?
Some of the following should definitely be on your priority list for getting into a strong position on page one for ‘branded’ search terms:
-Main website – ideally with an obvious and easy registration form for an email list.
-Itunes profile – get people on that page while your tunes are still ringing in their ears.
-Facebook fan page – everyone likes a like!
-YouTube channel – got good stuff? Make sure the very best is ranking.
-Gig dates (calendar page) – playing again in the area? Make sure people know about it whilst their still keen.
-Positive press mentions – if you’ve had some impressive coverage, make sure people see it.
-Flickr page – people love looking through images, be that official photos or casual documentary style photos.
-Twitter Profile – it’s the easiest way to keep people up to date
Assuming you’re performing regularly, then you are obviously going to want to take advantage of every little surge in interest. Looking at the list above, I’d want to start prioritising the list and making sure the most important properties appear for branded search. As a good example, having your itunes profile ranking well for your name should mean that you can take full advantage of any potential post gig purchases. Making sure your homepage actually ranks first for your name and features an easy way to sign up for email updates is another important step in capturing that all important snap of interest.
If you do start to notice a nice spike in traffic after every gig, then your biggest priority should be having everything available with fast and easy access; i.e striking while the iron’s hot and capturing the interest before people go back to work the next day and forget about signing up to your mailing list, buying your songs on itunes, or liking your fan page. That principle should be highly relevant to many businesses. Running a pub with regular events? Make sure people find all the fun stuff and can sign up for more info whilst they’re interested! In short, it’s pretty much the same aim as any SEO project – when people want what you’ve got, don’t make them work hard to get it!
As a practical example of what can be done, let’s imagine you decide video is going to be a big part of what you do, and that YouTube is something you really want to focus on. As an artist you should be spending time making sure you have great content available for people to see, but the chances are that your ‘official’ videos are mixed up with people recording half a song here and there from your performances on their phone. If you’re not doing any work on promoting your videos, you’re at risk of people finding the crap stuff before they find the videos you’ve spent time and effort on. From an SEO’s point of view, we really want to make sure that the right videos and YouTube snippets are being
To try and encourage the best videos to appear in the SERPS and YouTube results some easy things to do could include:
-Ensure your name is in the title, tagging and filename.
-Make sure you have a decent description; a transcription of the lyrics is a great idea for music videos, plus details of where to find out more.
-Encourage commenting and comment on other videos from your profile. Always make sure that you’re an active user.
-Post your ‘official video’ as a video response to ‘un-official’ videos. If people are looking for your material on YouTube and stumble across someone else’s footage, they’re definitely going to be interested in viewing your channel and official videos. Again, make it easy to find!
-Build links to the best videos.
Below is the perfect example of a video that you’d definitely want people to find first:
(John James Newman – check him out, he’s pretty good J)
Making more of your dates…
Many people that search for your name or band name are likely trying to find out where you’re playing next, or when you might be back in their area. Instead of waiting for them to get to your gig page, why not make this instantly available in the search results via the use of micro formats? The same thing can be used to great effect by anyone in entertainment – be that a theatre, cinema, pub, club or magician:
As part of your calendar page you might have a tour date as follows:
Placebo, UK Support Tour
8pm – 11pm
This might currently be marked up on the calendar page as follows:
<h2>Placebo, UK Support Tour</h2>
<p>Brixton Academy, London</p>
<p>8pm – 11pm</p>
To add the hCalendar Microformat and gain that lovely looking rich snippet, we need to add the following elements:
Summary (title) – required
Dtstart (start date, time) – required
Dtend (end date/duration) – required
Location – optional
Once you’ve added these elements to the page, the original piece of mark-up should end up looking as follows:
<h2 class=”summary”>Placebo, UK Support Tour</h2>
<span class=”location”>Brixton Academy, London</span>
<p><abbr class=”value” title=”2012-07-10″>10th July</abbr></p>
<span class=”value”>8pm</span> – <span class=”dtend”>11pm</span>
If that’s something that interests you, full details on the hCalendar Microformat and how to implement it can be found on the wiki here. You can also test out the code directly with the rich snippets tool - very handy if you just want to learn the different mark up as you no longer need a page to test it out on. If you run any kind of event, I’d highly recommend getting this feature sorted out on your website!
Hopefully that might shed some light on my argument for SEO being useful, even when a high position for a general keyword isn’t part of the game plan!
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