Event website SEO: 6 rules to improve your event promotion online
Events in the time of RankBrain*
Words by Sabina Fratila
Event website SEO – is it that thing you know you should be doing but never get to activate properly?
Building great gatherings and communities takes long. To grow, they usually rely on close-knit groups of friends or acquaintances, and word of mouth. But we live in times where computer algorithms influence what we like, who we meet and how we plan our time. While we still trust our friends’ recommendations, we never buy anything or go anywhere before we Google it.
If you want to promote your event online, you need to understand how people will search for it and what they will find. That’s what SEO helps with, and this guide will show you how to use it for your event website.
SEO rule 1. Design your event website for mobile first
Yes, you need a website. Unless you’re organizing a Friday bar or a birthday party, just having a Facebook event won’t do. There are plenty of cheap or free tools a toddler could use to build an event website (here are some examples), so you have no excuse.
Before you decide on design and content, you must ensure your website will be optimized for mobile. Why? Because Google prioritizes mobile-optimized websites in their search results ranking, and penalizes the ones that are not.
Most website builders and CMSs create mobile versions of your website, so the technical part of it is likely covered. Still, you need to test and tweak your website design to make sure it looks and reads well on mobile devices. Typography, header and footer display, menu position, and image display need to be on your checklist. Use Google’s mobile-friendly test to make sure you follow the basic rules.
SEO rule 2. Research those keywords
Nowadays, when you search for something online, your search engine doesn’t only provide exact keyword matches, but identifies the most relevant content through natural language processing. This means we're past the times when we needed to stuff our web pages with one single keyword to make them rank high in search results. But keyword research is still very important. It helps you structure your content and focus your communication on the most important topic related to your event, so people will get an idea of what it’s all about as soon as they land on your website. More importantly, by researching relevant keywords you create a pool of terms and phrases that will guide and inspire you in writing your website content. Content with a clear focus on the right terms and variations will make it easy for search engines to analyze it and rank high in relevant queries.
Use LSI graph to collect semantically linked keywords. This tool doesn’t only provide vocabulary inspiration, but also the level of detail you should focus on.
For example, the search above showed me that I need to focus on giving information about the time and location of my event, along with similar terms to describe my event type (“user experience conference”, “ux conference”, “ux research conference” “product design conference”).
SEO rule 3. Optimize your website content
Based on your keyword research you should be able to define the structure of your website and the main points you need to cover. Now it's time to build on it:
For each page on your website, set URLs to contain the most relevant derivate of your keyword. Keep them short and without stop words (e.g. "and", "a", "to" etc.).
When a search engine's bots are checking your web page to index it, they look for keywords, among other things. The trick is that they rate keywords in headers more heavily than the rest of the text. Headers are the titles and headlines in your page wrapped in code tags with different levels of importance. Most website builders give you the option for 3 levels of headers, so you'll have <h1>, <h2>, and <h3>. It's standard practice that each web page has only one <h1>, usually the title of your page. Then you have several <h2> as subheadings. Every cca. 200 words in your body text you should group under a subheading, so the reader can easily skim through the page.
This is where that list of related terms and synonyms you researched before should help the most. Even if search engines give less importance to the content in your body text, they still use it to understand what your page is about – especially the first 100-150 words on the page. Make sure you include related keywords here and there, without affecting the comprehension and readability of your text.
SEO rule 4. Optimize ALL your website content
As the saying goes, there's more to content than meets the eye. The hidden content is actually even more important when it comes to optimizing your event website for search engines.
Different from the <h1> tag discussed above, the <title> tag is a meta tag, which means it doesn't actually appear within the content of your page. This is what appears as the title when your event web page shows up in someone's search results. Search engines value what's in the title tag even more than <h1>, not to mention that users decide whether to click on a result based on the title. Therefore, it's crucial to write engaging, descriptive and keyword-rich titles for all pages on your event website.
A meta description is the text that goes along with the title in search results. Similarly, it doesn't appear on the actual website - except for, in some cases, as an article's excerpt (e.g. if you use Squarespace). Meta descriptions have little impact on your rankings, but they're important in helping readers understand what the page is about and improving the click-through rate. A Better click-through rate, in turn, positively influences your SEO.
Images are another hidden bit of content that search engines consider when ranking your event website. For each image you upload, make sure the file name and the title and/or alt attribute contain relevant keyword derivates.
But that's not all! You should also optimize the size of the image files to avoid slowing down the page loading time – page speed has a huge influence over your event website's SEO. To optimize your pictures before uploading them, use ImageOptim. To analyze your page speed and possible improvements, check Google's PageSpeed tool.
This one is super important, even if a bit more difficult to wrap your head around. Schema markup is code you can generate and insert on your website, which gives search engines more specific information about your event, such as location and time. Depending on the relevance for users and their search query, these event details will show up directly in their SERP. To understand the information types you can highlight for your event, check this page on Schema.org's website. You can also read this article by online marketing expert Neil Patel explaining Schema markup in detail.
The simplest way to generate this code snippet is to use Google's Data Highlighter tool available in your Search Console account. Depending on how you built your website, there will be different ways to insert the code in the right place, but there's nothing the right Google search can't find. In any case, after implementation remember to test your new Schema with the Structured Data Testing tool.
Hold tight, more technical information coming through. An XML sitemap is, well, a map of your site that search engines use to understand your website's structure and find all the pages within. It's some more code you need to use – but this is an easy fix for your event website SEO, and it's really important. Especially if you have a new event website, it can take a while for Google to index it correctly and start showing it in SERPs. Having a sitemap makes the process faster.
Again, we'll leave the experts to show you how to create and use a sitemap – Neil Patel says it should only take 20 seconds.
SEO rule 5. Create links: inbound, outbound and internal links
Most SEO experts agree that links represent one of the most important ranking factors for SEO, if not the biggest one. Search engines use the link network a website as an indicator of that website's popularity, importance and relevance.
The links that boost your event website's SEO the most are inbound ones, a.k.a. backlinks. This means getting trusted and relevant websites to link to yours. The more trusted the websites linking to you, the better for your event website's SEO. A few great ways to get inbound links are:
Getting your event mentioned on event listing websites. It's better to reach out to ones that are particularly relevant for your event type and/or location.
Giving interviews for online articles, where you talk about organizing your event, and link to its website.
Sending out press releases with details about how publications can link to your event website.
Asking partners and suppliers to mention you on their platforms – e.g. speakers, photographers, venues, production partners, sponsors. You should, of course, return the favor by mentioning them on your website, which will probably be useful information for attendees anyway.
Talking about your event (and link to it) in relevant social media groups and forums.
An important aspect of link building for SEO is to make sure that inbound links use descriptive anchor texts, that ideally contain your focus keyword.
These are links you put on your event website to other relevant ones, like the links mentioned above to websites of speakers, photographers, sponsors, venue and production partners. Keep it local and relevant, and don't overcrowd a page with too many links, as that's a sign of concern for search engines.
These are links you create within your site between different pages. While they have limited impact on your event website's SEO, internal links are important for creating a good navigation and keeping the readers engaged on your website for longer.
SEO rule 6. Keep the conversation going
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, your event website's SEO is indeed a long-term process. Especially for a new website, it will take a while for it to start appearing in SERPs and gain organic search traffic. But the most important advice we can give you is not to give up. You'll soon realize that most of your event planning work also represents a good opportunity to improve your event website's SEO.
For example, simply posting new content regularly can improve your website's domain authority. In SEO terms, domain authority is like your event website's ID. It's what tells search engines your site is trustworthy. Your SEO ranking also improves when visitors spend more time on your website, on more pages, and on repeated occasions. Your content should be easy to navigate and engaging, encouraging readers to take actions – read more, subscribe for notifications, buy tickets, leave comments, ask questions, share with their friends etc.
When working on your social media strategy, keep in mind that people also use social media channels as search engines. Therefore, you should use similar tactics to boost your discoverability on social media channels: relevant and engaging headlines, informative descriptions, keywords and hashtags, links and mentions.
We know all this information might feel overwhelming if you're unfamiliar with it, but there's really no way around learning how to use SEO for your event promotion. Use this guide as an introduction to the art of SEO, experiment and expand on it.
With that in mind, here are some articles from our research, that can serve as further reading on the topic:
*RankBrain is a machine-learning technology used by Google as part of their ranking algorithm. RankBrain's job is to interpret the keywords people use in search queries and provide relevant results based on word variations, synonyms and similar phrases for those keywords.