Here lies the minefield that is search engine optimisation (SEO). I like to think of the Google spider, crawling over everyone’s websites and reporting back to HQ on who’s not maximising their Google analytics. I imagine this spider wearing black shades and a sneer, making notes on a tiny recording device and reporting back to a cat-stroking Godfather back at Google towers. I digress.
It’s essential to use SEO analytics to make informed decisions concerning your website content. As Patrick Welsh, Marketing Manager for Phoenix Arts says:
“A website is often the end of the journey – don’t expect people just to come to it. Get them there through other means rather than using it as a calling card. You can then devise your content and how it integrates with the rest of your marketing from there.”
As with local press trying to sell you advertising (a bugbear of mine), be cautious with spending money on social media platforms – if your content is engaging enough, it shouldn’t be necessary. Nikki Halliwell, Digital Marketing Executive at music distribution and marketing company Horus Music – warns that many social media platforms have cottoned on to where money is to be made from selling page space:
“Some social media platforms are making it increasingly difficult to reach your audience and so in some cases you may feel forced to pay just to get your message heard,”she cautions, advising “Don’t get sucked in to that mentality.
Focus on creating high quality content that your audience enjoys and you will see your reach increase. Then you can opt to use social media advertising or to boost your tweets/posts when you have something worthwhile to offer. This can be anything from a new product to a festive discount or a new way for people to connect with you – whatever you are offering, it should genuinely benefit or help your audience in some way.” Content that offers and engages shouldn’t need to be paid for – it works organically so long as the offering is there.
Where a little investment may be useful is with search engine advertising, according to Nikki: “A big bonus of this type of advertising is that it is much more cost effective than the more traditional print ads – you can target specific audiences and locations, and you only pay for the people that actually engage with your ad,” she shares. “Search engine adverts are likely to become an important factor in search result ranking too, so take a look at what keywords work for you and your audience (including which ones similar artists/competitors are and aren’t using) and use that to your advantage. You don’t have to target everywhere either – use one platform to start with and then use what you learn there and apply it to elsewhere.”
It’s also important to make your website interactive by giving people options to engage with it. The jargon is ‘call to action’ – something Liz Clark knows the importance of.
“Anything that hooks an audience in is valuable,”
she says. “Our Turned On Its Head website has been really successful – we’ve got a promoters button where potential employers can email us directly about booking our shows.”
That ‘button’ which shortcuts your reader to directly engaging with you is a really useful tool.
Nikki Halliwell drives home just how important it is to use your website for data capture, as it may be your only avenue for doing so… “It is important to get your audience back to your website and to encourage them to take your desired action, whether that is to sign up to your mailing list, buy tickets to your next gig or purchase your merchandise.
You own your website and the data you collect from it, whereas you do not own the information of your social media followers and you can lose that data at any time.
We’ve seen it happen where active and even influential accounts have been shut down with little-to-no warning and they have had to start over from the beginning once again. Had they managed to get their followers onto a mailing list they could have quickly communicated what had happened to their audience and managed the problem much more effectively without losing most of their audience.”
But how you use that data is crucial. One word of warning, which is kind of obvious if you have an email account yourself. There’s a fine line between e-shots and spam…. remember most people instinctively delete marketing emails. Always, always write any e shot with that fact in mind.