APP OF THE MONTH: Grammarly

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, App of the Month, Branding
Name Grammarly
Product Description Proofread from home with ease and improve your content to make your writing clear and effective!
Availability Available on Chrome, macOS, Microsoft Word and your phone. Learn More in the Grammarly app store.
Key Features ·       Make sure your writing is accurate, clear and concise with Grammarly’s AI writing assistant.

·       Pick a theme to easily convey the tone and brand voice of your business.

·       Link Grammarly with all your favourite sites including Gmail, Outlook, Messenger, Google Docs, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

·       Adapt the settings of Grammarly specifically for your business, for example, changing automatically changing ‘the arts business’ to The Arts Business.

·       Share your account with up to 50 people across your company safely and easily.

Prices and Plans Free! For all of your correction and proofreading needs! Grammarly Premium is available from $12.50 per month.
Biggest Pro It’s great at picking up all your grammatical errors and spelling mistakes that MS Word doesn’t always pick up on.
Biggest Con The adverts for its premium services, but they are easy to put up with when you’re getting this awesome service for free!

We all know when you have to proofread alone it can get tiring and it’s easy to miss things so just run it through Grammarly and you’ll catch all those sneaky typos.

7 Ways to make your Website Accessible

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Branding, Websites

A great way to reach more people with your arts business is to ensure it is accessible to everyone, regardless of ability and the best way to start is by making sure your website is disability friendly.

 

The most common types of impairments that you need to think about in your website design are:

  • Visual Impairment: anyone who is blind, has low vision, requires corrective eyewear or is colour-blind.
  • Physical Impairment: anyone who has restricted movement caused by a disability or struggles with certain motor skills like moving a mouse or typing on a keyboard.
  • Hearing Impairment: anyone who is deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Psychiatric Disability: something you need to be aware of should you have content which may be triggering to someone with mental illness.
  • Photosensitivity: users with epilepsy who could have seizures induced from flashing lights.
  • Cognitive Impairment: a disability which affects someone’s cognitive functions like dyslexia, dysnomia or dementia.

 

With that in mind here are The Arts Business’ top tips for making your website accessible

 

  1. Image Tags Alt text

You should be doing this already to improve your SEO but for accessibility purposes you basically want to give a detailed description on what can be seen in the images on your website.

For example, if this is the image you’re using:

Then a good alt tag would be ‘ballet dancer in a forest’. An even better one might read ‘Ballet dancer in black leotard and tutu, standing on one foot en pointe in a forest in the sunshine’. Whatever you do, don’t leave your alt text blank.

 

  1. Colour Scheme

There are a few things to consider here.

Firstly, think about your company’s branding, try to use distinctive colours. Think about shades of colour, for example, if you use indigo and lilac in your companies branding ensure the colours are not two similar shades of purple as this could make your content difficult to decipher.

Next, you must think about a potential user who is colour blind. We’ve all seen the colour-blindness tests, right?

Think about the colours you’re using together and if in doubt of colour combinations, you can refer to the image above. If you want to learn more about different types of colour blindness you can visit the Colour-Blind Awareness Website.

 

 

  1. Text Sizing

Primarily you want to ensure that your text is an appropriate size, colour and font which is easy to read.

So, for colour, think either light coloured font on a dark background, or a dark coloured font on a light background. I have dyslexia myself and find it much easier to read black text on a yellow background which is also something to take into account.

And it is so important to think about the readability of your chosen font type. Print types of font (serif and sans serif) are generally easier to read than handwriting or calligraphy fonts (script) especially if you’re writing long blog posts, you want to keep the reader engaged. Time is precious and if your audience struggles to read your font, they’re quite simply not going to bother.

Sizing is slightly more complex. Yes, simply put, you want to make sure the size is readable. Think about your target audience here. If your target audience is in the 50+ age range, you will want to have a larger font to start with.

You will also want to check the quality when you zoom in. Ideally, you want your website to be responsive which means that when you zoom in and out the font reformats so that you can still read all the content from left to right. This is more difficult to programme depending on the software you have used to make it, so don’t worry if you can’t do this. Just check it out for yourself on different devices.

 

  1. Device Friendly

Similar to no. 3 you need to check the ability to resize text and imagery across different devices, ideally on a phone and tablet.

You will also want to check your imagery and colour scheme to ensure it is still readable on devices with different resolutions.

 

  1. Closed Captions

This is a simple one! If you have video content, subtitle your work. Most online video platforms like YouTube have editing software to enable you to add subtitles yourself quickly and easily!

 

  1. Tab-able keyboard friendly

Bear in mind that some physical impairments mean that users can’t use a touchpad or mouse so you have to make sure that your website can be navigated through their keyboard.

Don’t panic if you’re not up to scratch on your keyboard shortcuts. The simplest way to check this is by using your up and down arrows to scroll, tab to move between tabs on the page and enter to select links. So long as that works it’s keyboard compatible.

 

  1. Hyperlink Format

When you create a link in a post you want to describe the page it will lead to. You want to avoid links like Click Here or Read Now as they are an accessibility nightmare. So instead of:

Read up on Inside Theatre in our latest app of the month post click here.

Try:

Read up on Inside Theatre in our latest app of the month post

 

All pretty straight forward and as an added bonus this will also help you with your brand design and SEO!

If you want to know how accessible your website currently is just head to the Web Accessibility Website and stick in your address! They’ll outline any problem areas of your website in terms of accessibility.

 

What have you done to make your website more accessible? Let us know in the comments below!

 

APP OF THE MONTH: Speechify

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, App of the Month, Education
Name Speechify
Product Description Text to speech software. Either copy and paste in text, upload a pdf or simply snap a photo and Speechify will read it in a human-sounding voice.
Availability Available from the Apple App Store and as an extension on Google Chrome. Currently available in Beta Form on Google Play Store. A desktop app for MacBooks can be downloaded from the Speechify Website.
Key Features ·       Choose your natural sounding voice from a selection and listen to text in over 50 different languages.

·       Change your reading speed so you can listen at up to 900 words a minute, which is 5 times the average reading speed.

·       Take a photo of whatever your reading and upload it to Speechify which will then read it to you!

·       Import articles directly from your internet browser or install the chrome add on so you don’t have to!

·       Compatible with loads of different apps including Dropbox, iCloud and Google Drive.

Prices and Plans Free! Premium packages starting from £11.25 a month which allows unlimited access and HD Voices,
Biggest Pro The voice! Having struggled with dyslexia all my educational and professional life this is BY FAR the easiest to use and best sounding software I have ever come across.
Biggest Con Pretty new, so a little glitchy here and there but you can’t have everything.

 

An effortlessly simple piece of software which integrates flawlessly with your internet platforms.

I wish I would have had this at university!

How to Perform a SWOT Analysis on your Arts Business

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Business Skills, Creative Industries

As a second lockdown looms and we are all wondering what is in store for the creative industries it’d be easy to hunker down and get back to our main mission of 2020: trying to complete Netflix.

But don’t rest on your laurels!

Use this time as a chance to analyse your business and create a plan for the future.

The easiest way to do this is to create a SWOT analysis for your arts business. Now, I’m sure many of you have heard this term before but haven’t necessarily put it in place for your business.

Simply put, SWOT stands for:

When creating your SWOT analysis just take it section by section and ask yourself the following questions:

STRENGTHS

  • How strong is your product or service?
    • Whether you’re a theatre company creating a show or a gallery retailing prints it is important to look closely at what you are selling.
  • What is your Unique Selling Point (USP)?
    • What makes you stand out from the crowd? Are you a musician that can play the drums and electric guitar at the same time? That would be your USP.
  • What makes your company stand out from your competitors?
    • Perhaps you’re a wedding photographer, what makes you different from all the other wedding photographers out there? Are you an airbrush expert? A master at taking action shots? That is most definitely a strength.
  • What business areas and departments are your best?
    • If you’re a performer you might be amazing at coming up with social media content for your marketing, or great at sales! Think about all the different departments of a traditional business and which ones you ace.
  • What assets does your business own?
    • Take an up and coming arts centre, a key asset might be an office and multipurpose arts space in a bohemian suburb of a city. That would be a mega-strength!

WEAKNESSES

  • What are the weaknesses in your products or services?
    • Be objective here, where does your arts company fall short or where could you see room to improve.
  • What is your brand lacking?
    • For example, are you up to date with all the latest technologies? If you’re a comedian, you could be well suited to Tik-Tok so if don’t yet have an account this could be a weakness.
  • In what areas are you vulnerable to your competition?
    • If you’re a new business you might lack the staff base that your competition has, this could be a vulnerability.
  • What business areas and departments are your weakest?
    • I know here at the Arts Business our weakest department is our accounts! But we have transformed this into an opportunity enrolling in numerous online courses in bookkeeping to improve.
  • What assets are you lacking?
    • This could be anything from lacking external office space to having a limited following on social media. Take these in your stride and create business goals around them.

You can then use these answers to help you establish your Opportunities and Threats.

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Where could you make improvements in your company?
  • Can you build upon your weaknesses?
  • Can you turn your problems into opportunities?

THREATS

  • Are there barriers or obstacles which may affect you entering your chosen creative industry?
  • Are there external factors (for example a tumultuous government or a global pandemic) that may cause problems in your chosen market?

We all know, as artists, it can be a struggle to brag about what we’re good at and admit to our shortfalls which is exactly what can make performing a SWOT analysis tricky. The difficulty comes in looking objectively at these aspects of your business.

There are a few things you can do to get into the swing of it:

  1. Start by performing SWOT analysis on your competition! It is easier to nit-pick at a company that isn’t yours, and once you have discovered their strengths and weaknesses you will find it much simpler to spot your own. Also, you might even find a gap in the industry which your company could fill.
  2. Have a friend or colleague perform a SWOT analysis of your business. Bringing in external opinions or utilising your staff who see your company from a different perspective can be a great way to reveal strengths and weaknesses you may have otherwise been unaware of.
  3. Get in a consultant to do it for you (like the Arts Business). If you’ve got the money this can be a great way to spend it as an external consultant is much more likely to be impartial when analysing your company.

This will enable you to successfully construct a plan of what you can do to improve and how the things you are already awesome at can help you to become even more awesome!

REMEMBER: If 2020 has proved anything to us it is that the world is always changing and we need to be ready to adapt and evolve with it.

So, don’t just do a SWOT Analysis once! Think of it more like a cycle to enable constant growth and development.

Have you done a SWOT analysis on your Arts Business? We would love to include it in this post as an example! Let us know in the comments below or contact us.

Make an SEO Plan for your Arts Business in 3 simple steps: Part Four

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Start Ups, Websites

STEP 3: REACH OUT

The final step in your SEO Plan is all about links!

The first thing you need to understand here is the difference between a Backlink and an Inbound Link:

  • Backlinks or External Links are any link from an external website (any website that isn’t your own) to a page on your site. Backlinks are vital to improving your Off-Page SEO. Basically the more links Google finds ANYWHERE on the internet which link to you the higher you will be ranked
  • Inbound Links or Internal Links are hyperlinks you make on one page of your website to another, like linking an exhibition to the box office. Inbound Links are essential when working on your On-Page SEO.

Basically, what you need to know is that links are to SEO as downloads are to music charts! The more that are out there to higher you will rank in the top 40!

INBOUND LINKS

Inbound links are crazy simple both to make and maintain within your website.

If you run a blog, you can create links within the post to other similar posts or products and services pages or simply to a Contact Us page. When adding links to your blog posts 3-5 is generally a good goal to aim for whether these are inbound or outbound.

Obviously, the absolute ideal is to link within your site to keep traffic flowing through your website. If you are linking away from your site, in a perfect world somewhere on that page there is a link back to you.

When citing references and articles linking within your site is not always possible, so make sure you set the links to open in tabs as opposed to in the same window. That way your site remains open in the browser. After all, you don’t want to drive people away from your site, when they are checking out your sources.

What if you don’t run a blog?

There are loads of places you can link to:

  • Most websites have some kind of access to Contact or FAQ to make it easier to ask questions and get in touch.
  • Product pages can link to other product pages (check out our online store section in the previous SEO Post)
  • Pictures or videos could lead to galleries
  • Show or exhibition information can lead to box office/ticket purchasing or opening times

The possibilities are as endless as your imagination!

Be sure to think about your call to action button here too! This will be a link to the place you want to draw your audience to the most. Learn more about your call to action button here.

BACKLINKS

You may think you have little control over the number of backlinks that drive traffic to your site. You would be wrong! There’s loads of stuff you can do online to help.

First and foremost, make sure you add your business details to Google!  They have a 90% monopoly of the search engine market so you’ll want to focus on driving up your ranking primarily through them when developing your SEO Plan. Of course you can add your information to other Search Engine platforms to but if you’re limited for time Google should be your priority.

FUN FACT: It used to be that you would rank higher if your business had a Google+ account until Google realised they were flogging a dead horse with that particular social media avenue and shut it down. It took over YouTube which is now Google’s main social media platform.

It is still very much the case that if you use their products and services you will rank higher in their search. It may not be fair, but that’s corporative business for you.

Links from your social media accounts to your website are an excellent contribution to your backlinks. Generally the more reputable and sizeable the company, the more weight your backlinks will hold coming from that source. The Big Five Social Media Apps are generally considered to be:

  1. Facebook
  2. Instagram
  3. Twitter
  4. Pinterest
  5. LinkedIn

Other popular Social Media Platforms that shouldn’t be forgotten are:

  • TikTok
  • YouTube
  • SnapChat

Whatever platforms you use to promote your website (and be sure to use the ones which compliment your business best) all will help with your Off-Site SEO.

It’s worth tracking your social media analytics to work out what posts perform best. If you can encourage reposts, retweets, regrams… of links to your site which become additional backlinks.

You will also want to consider uploading your details to prevalent listing sites. Does your business rely heavily on footfall from the tourism industry? Upload your company details to TripAdvisor. Perhaps you’re a children’s theatre company? Get it on MumsNet & NetMums. Want to make people in the local area aware of an exhibition? Upload it to Facebook Events.

It is also worth noting that majority of Local Councils in the UK have their own website for tourism and promotion in their local area.  Uploading to sites like this can be a great way of using your time to specifically target the right market and audience for your business.

If you want to sell merchandise for your store you could always sell through an external site like Etsy or Amazon to increase those backlinks. It’s the same if you’re selling tickets, maybe run some through Eventbrite or TicketMaster.

We mentioned earlier when coming up with Inspiration for Content you may consider employing a Guest Blogger or Vlogger. When doing this ensure that your guest shares your information on their website and social media platforms too!

It also works when people link to you so if you do any collabs with other companies or simply mention them in a blog post. Ask them to share your details on their social media and websites. Remember the Arts Industry is all about collaboration and if you don’t ask you don’t get.

If you find a backlink on a website you weren’t expecting, then it is common courtesy to return the favour and give them a shout out on your social and website as well! Especially if they’re singing your praises with a great review.

And there you have it!

Be sure to stay on top of the curve with new techniques for SEO that are coming out – the internet is constantly changing and this means that Google (and other search engines) will have to keep up to date with these trends and alter the algorithms and methods they use to rank you.

SEO is a long game!  You won’t see results straight away.  You will be lucky if you see the impact your efforts in 12 months but stick at it all the time and it will work!!!

Any questions or want use to create an SEO plan for you? Contact us or leave a message in the comments.

APP OF THE MONTH: ZOOM

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, App of the Month, Business Skills
Name ZOOM Cloud Meetings
Product Description The perfect app for lockdown! For all your meeting needs whether you miss your friends and want to stay in touch or you’re still trying to run your business and keep all your colleagues informed and up to date.
Availability Available from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store and on your PC/Mac.
Key Features ·       Meetings – Including online meetings, training and support Zoom has been used for all manner of things this lockdown, from hosting quizzes, lectures, discussions, choir sessions and, my personal favourite, the Ultimate Disney Singalong!

·       HD video and audio – It really is the best quality video communicator I have found and through quarantine I’m pretty sure I’ve used them all!

·       Mute – This seems like a simple addition, but as the host the ability to mute your attendees means they can hear you clearly and effectively.  I’ve run a readthrough over zoom and people can mute themselves when they aren’t talking so the script can be as clear and clean as possible.

·       Device Flexibility – They claim to be available on any device and as a user of all devices, from android to apple and back around to windows I am yet to find one it isn’t compatible with.

·       Security – Probably not necessary for your family pub quiz but great if you are discussing private or secret information you don’t want getting leaked.

·       Calendaring and Integration – It works across your browser and inbuilt software effortlessly. Without even intending to do so, if I schedule a meeting on my Mac it is automatically added to my iCal. It also offers extensions for Microsoft Office, Email and Web Browsers.

·       Screen Sharing and Remote Access – If a lot of your team are working from home at the moment then it’s a great way to make sure all company software and hardware is kept up and running. With their screen sharing and remote control your IT maintenance team can keep on helping from home too.

Prices and Plans Your basic meeting account is free (hence its increasing popularity throughout lockdown!) It’s paid accounts (with a few more features) range from £11.99 p/m – £15.99 p/m for each individual meeting host.
Biggest Pro The screen sharing and remote control! Yes, it is basically an updated Skype but the easy to use screen share and the ability to remotely control someone’s computer from your own is seamless. It makes life so much easier! Even if you’re only using it to sort out a straightforward technically problem for your Mum, you can save a lot of conversation conflict!
Biggest Con The 40-minute limit on group meetings can be annoying, but the sneaky way around this is to set up a personal meeting so the meeting number and password remain the same. This way after you’re booted out after 40 minutes your party can simply log back in immediately.

 

I love Zoom!

And I think everyone will agree with me when I say that this lockdown certainly wouldn’t have been the same without it!

Make an SEO Plan for your Arts Business in 3 simple steps: Part Three

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Start Ups, Websites

Welcome back for Step 2 continued!

STEP 2: REFINE

 

8. CONTACT US

Interestingly your Contact Us page is one of the most important across your site. This is where your customers can get in touch with you and ask their questions.

You want the ability to communicate with and find you to be as flawless as possible. There is nothing worse than stumbling across a business you’re really interested in, only to find that there is nowhere you can get in touch with them!

You want to make sure that your contact us page is easy to get to from anywhere on your site and that visitors can get in touch with the right people in your company. Like my social media links I like to have access to our contact us available wherever you are on any page

There are a few things you can add to you contact page to make it really easy for someone to get in touch and lower that bounce rate:

  • Having an email account that matches your web address. What I mean here is instead of a yourbusinessname@hotmail.com or yourbusinessname@gmail.com consider getting an official email account: info@yourbusinessname.com or hello@yourbusinessname.com. It adds an element of professionality to your business.
  • Make sure your email address is a link. I know it sounds crazy but if a user has to copy and paste your email address into their composer they are less likely to get in touch. If you make it into an email link this means when you click it, a new email will automatically open in their default mail app with your email address already in the ‘To:’ line. It skips a step for the user making them more likely to get in touch.
  • Instead of or as well as you can have a Contact Us Box with whatever fields you like in it for enquiries. That enables users to write their questions then and there. This will turn into an email and be magically pinged to your inbox so it cuts out the middle man entirely making communication more direct and instantaneous directly from your visitors browser.
  • These days there are also apps or plugins you can get to link directly to your Facebook Messenger account. Contact methods are building more and more everyday and (even though from a business management perspective it can be a complete nightmare having to check a million digital mailboxes) different avenues of communication is exactly what your customers are looking for, from the traditional phone number to Instagram messenger.
  • If applicable, so if you’re a shop, a performance or rehearsal space, a café, basically any business with a fixed location, add a map to your website. Again, it’s pretty simple to embed Google Maps into your page so it’s completely interactive. You can also have maps in a myriad of different colours and designs nowadays so you can find the right map to perfectly compliment your company’s branding.

The easier it is for people to get in touch with you, the more time they will spend on your site, and the higher your search engine ranking.

As your company size increases, you’ll noticed the same questions and queries cropping up. At this point, to save time and, as an added bonus, improve your SEO you may want to add an FAQ pageto your site.

9. FAQ

A Frequently Asked Questions section (FAQ) will both save you time answering emails and increase your SEO.

You want this to be easily accessible so create a link wherever you have a contact us form or page and anywhere your customers are likely to want to get in touch and ask questions.

An FAQ page will inevitably grow as your business grows so you want to make it as efficient for users to find the answers to their questions as possible. I like to add page anchors to FAQs. Then dependent on how many questions your FAQ contains I will either begin with a list of questions which link to the answers further down the page, or a contents of categories which link to questions which link to answers.

Not only will this make your FAQ help your clients but it also means the questions can appear multiple times on a page, without being spam, so it will play in your favour when boosting SEO.

So be sure to remember you Keywords and Keyphrases when composing your questions and answers.

As an FAQ is frequently updated it also shows Google that you are still active. Remember, the more you update your site the higher your ranking.

10. FORMATTING

The way that you format content on your site is integral to your SEO.

Remember: SEO Bots scan your website’s code. They don’t see all the pretty features or pictures you’ve carefully displayed, they only read the HTML and CSS coding which translates into what your page looks like. So to Google it looks a little something like this:

SEMrush post code

Luckily these days you don’t need to be code fluent to create your website, but you should have a basic understanding of what certain things mean and how they are seen by Google in order to appropriately rank you.

For example, the size of your header has an impact on how Google ranks the importance of the statement within the header code. Header styles in html coding rank from 1-6, one being the largest and most important, so be sure to really consider your keyphrases and keywords when creating headers.

Specifically, in your code you’re looking for: h1 h2 h3 h4 h5 h6…

Font Size also affects the way your content is read by Google bots.

This doesn’t mean you should put everything written on your site in size 100! You still need to consider page readability. If it is easy to read people will spend more time on your site digesting your content.

Think about your Target Audience here too. What age range is your main focus? It may sound silly but if you’re targeting aged 60+ you may want to think about enlarging all your font sizes so when a user visits your site they can immediately read your content, on any device, without having to fumble around their house looking for their reading glasses. This will decrease your bounce rate and hence improve your google ranking.

Font formatting can also have an impact so if you put some of your content in bold or underlined Google can see that this particular bit of text is more important than the bits around it.

Whilst researching for this article I can across the Pasadena Playhouse Website and discovered they’ve had their own font designed. Not on is it gorgeous, but it means Pasadena Playhouse will be all over their coding whenever the font style is used. This is absolute genius for their SEO!

Make sure you always check your format on multiple devices! What looks brilliant on a desktop may look awful on a mobile device and vice versa. Most website builders and templates have systems in place to adapt your website for mobile devices so usually navigation is the same, if not better, on a mobile or tablet. But it is always worth a check none the less.

Keep your copyright up to date! There is little that I find more annoying than when a website has included copyright in the footer only for the year to be out of date! Say it reads 2018, visitors and Google Bots could be led to believe your website hasn’t been updated in two years. Google will lower your ranking and your visitors will leave thinking you’re no longer up and running! Nightmare! It takes a few minutes and is a once a year job, so get on it!

Finally, you want to be sure to keep your page visually stimulating. Add Images, GIFs, Videos, clickable maps, anything that will increase engagement levels on your site

It is important to remember this though: (as of yet, at least) Search Engine Bots have no way to interpret how videos and images might link to your keyphrases and keywords. All they see is a page of code!

This means how you name and detail your visual content is integral to boosting your SEO.

11. NAMING YOUR FILES

Like I said Google will not interpret your picture of a plush auditorium and rank you higher for the keyword ‘Theatre’. This is why it is so incredibly important to RENAME YOUR FILES. Name it ‘auditorium theatre.jpg’ and then Google will know what the picture is of!

If you start doing this from the beginning of your website production it is easy to get in the swing of it but if you haven’t it can be a proper faff and take bloody ages but it is so worth it.

(And I will be the first to admit it is something I know I am lazy with on my own site, but when you’re a one woman business machine it can eat into your entire life!)

I can almost guarantee (mainly because it is such a faffarooney) very few of your competitors will have done this! If you want to check if they have you can go into their code or often just hover your mouse over the top of the image to learn what it is called.

You can also add alt tags (or alternative tags) to your images. These add an additional detailed description to your image (and look a little bit better in the box that appears when you hover over an image on a webpage). This will also benefit your SEO. With the added detail you can really put your keywords and keyphrases to good use.

Ideally you wanna do this on your social media too! Especially if you’re going to embed images and videos into your website.

It’s exactly for this reason that Video descriptions are so important. Even if you embed a video from YouTube or Facebook the description for that video will be embedded into your code too.

Same goes for any documentation on your site. Google will glaze over a file called 847238962397846.pdf but if it’s called Birmingham-art-gallery-and-museum-events-risk-assessment.pdf they’re gonna take notice.

 

12. URL STRUCTURE

It’s important to remember your chosen URL is unique to your site and can be incredibly important when boost your SEO.

It used to be the case that the more common URL you had (.com or .co.uk) the higher your page would rank. This is starting to change.

I have a client who has recently bought the URL www.onlytogether.cymru. This is the name of their up and coming art project and the location it will take place (Wales in Welsh). As a project exploring Welsh heritage this is the perfect URL for both their website and the site’s SEO.

Think about this when designing each individual page to your website. For example, if the URL to your About Us page is www.yourbusinessname.com/about-us Google will know exactly where to direct people if they want to learn about you! If it reads www.yourbusinessname.come/Fhsdjfdsos8676etg9frwrESFHUE& Google won’t have a clue.

There are different ways you can set up your URL structure but in general practice it will auto name to whatever the title of the page is, so keep in mind your keywords and keyphrases when developing page titles.

13. ONLINE STORE

Do you have an online shop or sell merchandise through your website? This is another great way to boost SEO.

Each individual product can have its own individual page and, as I have mentioned, the more pages you have the higher your SEO.

Believe it or not there is a reason that Amazon is so successful and it has a lot to do with its website design. So, if you want ideas for your own product pages, pull them from the masters:

  1. Product Title with Image and Options: Here we see ‘Shakespeare in Love’ on DVD, the formats it can be purchased through (VHS, Prime Video, Blu-Ray and DVD) and the price difference along with a very brief product description.
  2. Add to Basket or Buy now: These immediate options make purchasing quick and easy meaning users are more likely to carry out the transaction.
  3. Share on Social: Like I’ve said before (and probably will again) include links to your Social Media everywhere! They also have an option to email it to a friend which covers all possible demographics looking at Amazon.
  4. Add to Lists: Specifically think Wish List, if your client can’t afford it at present build in an option for them to save it somewhere on your website so should they stumble across it again they get the option the buy it straight away!
  5. Special Offers: Give people even more of a reason to buy additional products.
  6. Other Sellers: Is it sold cheaper elsewhere on Amazon? They’ll let you know and even help you to check out other buyers.
  7. Items Frequently Bought Together: The first of Amazon’s upsale campaigns! They pick the top item which is bought with the item you’re viewing and give you the option to add both to your basket at the same time.
  8. Customers Who Viewed Also Viewed: The second upsale strategy. They’ll show you other products viewed around the same time by other customers.
  9. In Depth Product Details: This goes into detail of the technical specifications of the product similarly to an FAQ, answering all and any questions you could possibly have about a product in one place.
  10. Customers Who Bought Also Bought: The third upsale approach found further down the page. This shows you what users who actually bought this also bought.
  11. What People Viewed After Looking At his: I’m sure you’ve notice by now but all of Amazon’s upsale tactics are very similar! It is all their way of encouraging browsing and site interaction.
  12. Prime Video link: An advert for a slightly different service Amazon provide but is still relevant to what the user is viewing.
  13. Customer Reviews: Visitors put a surprising amount of faith in the opinions of others. Customer reviews are a great way both to boost your content and inspire purchases.
  14. Sponsored Advert: Whether you’re promoting something else available on your site or it is linked to another business who have requested advertising space on your page, it can be a great way to improve income and SEO.

How exactly will all of this improve your SEO? There are a multitude of ways:

  • All of this adds detail and content to your page and can be frequently updated.
  • The content itself includes a lot of repetition which is great if you have some of your keywords and keyphrase in there. Google is more likely to notice you but it won’t register the activity as spam!
  • The longer a user spends on your site the higher SEO, so the detail all on one page means the user will stay on it for longer and the mass throng of links to elsewhere in your site means even if they leave the page, chances are they will remain on your site.
  • Everything is linked! Again, we will discuss the importance of links in part 4!
  • If you are completely registered with the ins and outs of Google Analytics you can work out how much your website is actually making with regards to transactions and income, the higher your income the higher your ranking.
  • Again, think about your formatting and naming images! All of which will boost SEO.

  

14. GOOGLE ANALYTICS

Install Google Analytics! It is crazy simple to do whatever platform you’ve used to build your website. What better way to get Google looking at your website than embedding html coding which means Google has to look through your website!

Seriously! It’s a no brainer!

15. FAVICON

Finally, add a Favicon (or a Site Icon)! What’s that? It’s the little logo that comes up next to the website title in the tab of your browser. Although it won’t necessarily boost your SEO directly, (unless you name the image for one of your keywords of course) it does legitimise your sight. By looking all official visitors are more likely to stay on your site for longer, consuming more of your content and improving your Google Analytics which in turn improves your SEO so it’s a win.

Sites without favicons are a serious pet hate of mine so if I come on your site to see you haven’t put one on there be I shall be electronically wagging my finger at you!

Come back soon for the final instalment!

Any questions or want use to create an SEO plan for you? Contact us or leave a message in the comments.

Make an SEO Plan for your Arts Business in 3 simple steps: Part Two

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Digital Marketing, Websites

STEP 2: REFINE

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

  1. YOUR HOMEPAGE

And the very beginning of your website is your homepage!

This is generally the first impression people will get of your website and business therefore you want to make sure it is clear from the offset exactly what it is you do. You also want to make sure it’s aesthetically pleasing and easy to interact with.

There is a super cool feature on Google Analytics where you can bring up an image of your homepage to figure out exactly how users are interacting with you site so you can learn what’s working and what’s not. (Don’t worry, I will be doing some Google Analytics posts in the near future!) It will also illustrate where they aren’t clicking. These are the areas you want to improve.

  1. CALL TO ACTION

Do you have a call to action button on your home page? This is a link which you draw attention to as somewhere you really want people to click. Facebook pages have a call to action button in the top bar which you can set to engagements like:

  • Contact Us
  • Subscribe Now
  • Donate Now
  • Check Out Website

call to action button facebook

As you can see the call to action button stands out over the other places you can click on the page, but it is still in keeping with your company branding.

Are you trying to sell tickets? Consider a prominent What’s On Button. Running a blog? Get people to check out your latest posts. Building an email database for future project? Have a Subscribe to our Newsletter. You get the point.

You don’t have to limit call to action buttons to your homepage either. If you have a page dedicated to a specific show or exhibition you may want to put a call to action button that says ‘Buy Tickets’ to encourage users to take the next step. Do you have some exciting news? Add a share now button to enable people to upload a link to your news straight onto their social media.

  1. SOCIAL MEDIA

It’s a good idea to ensure your links to social media are visible too. Social Media is such an inherent part of people’s lives with the average user spending 2 hours 24 minutes on it daily according to TechJury. So ideally you want your audience to be able to find it wherever you are on the site. I like to put it both in the header and footer so that your visitors can find your social wherever they are on the website along with including share options on posts.

You want to consider adding call to action buttons or statements like ‘Join Us’ or ‘Share Here’ to encourage continued interaction.

I’ll talk more about making links in Step 3 next month. (That’s right, links are so integral they get their own section!)

Remember, social media is one of the best ways to organically grow your company so add it in whenever you can.

  1. LOAD TIME

The other key feature about your homepage is how long it takes to load.  We live in a widely impatient society and, on average, if your load time is longer than seven seconds, you’ll lose a third of your visitors, crazy right?

How can you make your site load faster? To start with if you have images or videos on your homepage you may want to consider lowering the file size or video resolution. If you have built your site through WordPress there are plugins that will help your pages load quicker to. The best free plugin I’ve found is called WP Fastest Cache. It has a ridiculously easy set up that will immediately increase that website load time and decrease your bounce rate!

  1. COMPANY TAGLINE

Have you come up with a slogan or tagline for your business yet? You know, like ‘McDonalds – I’m lovin’ it’ or ‘Nike – Just do it’, well sort of anyway.

When you are considering your company tagline be sure to keep your these in line with your keyphrases and keywords. For example, The Arts Business Tagline is:

‘Marketing and Business Advice for the Creative Industries and Beyond…’

I’ve got marketing and business in there so that will help my instructional blogposts rank and ‘Creative Industries’ will help me hit up the right area of work. It’s working both for my business and my SEO.

Your tagline can appear all over you site without being perceived by Google as spam! Obviously, don’t over do it, us it sparingly and appropriately.

 

  1. BLOGPOSTS

Believe it or not Blogs are still the best way to boost your SEO.

Google’s bots are designed to consume text-based content and since AI hasn’t evolved enough to understand the content in videos or photos (not yet anyway) it means that writing is still one of the only ways to properly improve your search engine position.

You don’t need to name it ‘Blog section’ or anything, I know it can be a little difficult to slot this in seamlessly to your website without contrasting with your brand (unless you are a blog). So, jazz it up a little. It could be where you upload news or stories as well.

When writing your blogposts make sure you’re always thinking about how to pull together your article and your keywords and keyphrases.

The length of your blogposts is heavily debated. If you’re looking for a ballpark figure, make sure you keep it between 300-400 words as a bare minimum and 700-800 as an average.

You may think that surely the longer the blogpost the better, but remember you want to keep people engaged with your site and a ten thousand word essay on ‘How to Thread a Sewing Machine’ is unlikely to ever be read from start to finish.

If you’re struggling to think up new content for your blog there are plenty of places to find inspiration:

  1. Start by bringing it back to you and your company. What is your USP (Unique Selling Point)? The reason you started your business. That something, something you have that no other company does. Maybe you’re the only children’s theatre company that teaches comedy in the UK. Develop content around that. Think autobiographical too, don’t be afraid to share your story if it is relevant to your business, after all so much of your business is about the entrepreneur who began it.
  2. Another great place to find content ideas is to have a cheeky stalk of what your competitors are writing about. You can pull content directly from their posts (not in a plagiarism way FYI, find your on spin on it). Maybe they’ve written a post about the best 10 monologues for actor’s straight play auditions. You could write 11!
  3. You should also look at what is currently trending in your industry or just in the world that could affect your business. Maybe there’s a new technology that could revolutionise your production, or maybe there’s a mass pandemic which has closed down the world… Whatever it is just make sure you stay ahead of the curve so that your content is current and interesting. This will play into favour for your SEO.
  4. Think about guests posting on your blog. You could pay them, or trade services or even sell it to them as an incredible idea to reach a wider audience. Not only is this true but, in trade off, it will also help you reach more people. You are essentially tapping into each other’s database of followers and getting seen by a different crowd.

I know I rant on about this, but consistency is so so so so so important, especially when you are establishing yourself in the arts and you have limited time and resources.

So, don’t start off all guns blazing posting three article a day if this isn’t something you can maintain.  Both Google and your followers will think you’ve disappeared and hence your ranking will go down. Start once or twice a month. Remember, as your business grows so will your resources, and if your resources build you can increase your content. As far as I know Romeo and Juliet wasn’t written in a day.

Think carefully about each of the titles of your blog posts too. Think about that alluring clickbait that gets you every time (I myself am a sucker for: Child Actors: What do they look like now?). You want people to spend as much time on your site as possible so make your titles seductive.

I like to think of Buzzfeed as my muse when I’m coming up with titles for my posts. I can spend hours lost under their listicles spell. Basically, you want your articles to catch the gaze of your audiences and encourage them to read more.

Really not getting the traction you want with your titles?

Consider A/B testing.

This is when you set up two versions of your article with exactly the same content but different titles. This will help to give you an idea of what style of titles grabs more attention. The longer people stay on your site the better your google ranking so you really wanna home in on this.

Finally, you want to encourage as much interaction with your blog as possible so think about adding share now buttons to each post for whatever social media platforms you’re on. This way they are linking to you from a different site increasing your audience and SEO.

Think about turning on the ability for users to add comments or reviews to your posts too. It increases interaction with your page and produces new content without you having to write it.

If you are worried about trolls then heed this top tip (which I will admit is from RuPaul):

Don’t block trolls, they’re sneaky and it will simply rile them up more. Just silence or hide them. That way you can’t see them! And I like the idea of them being off in cyberspace somewhere having a rant to themselves!

  1. UPDATES

Updating your page is also a great way to improve SEO. Another excellent reason why adding new pages for blogposts is so useful. Frequent updates on your website and social media shows Google that you are active, dressed up and ready to party.

There are countless possibilities for adding content that isn’t a blog post. Things like adding customer quotes or stories, embedding videos, creating online galleries… let your imagination run wild.

If you’re just starting off and building your own website there are some people out there who would recommend you hide yourself from search engine bots until you’re up and running, rather than have them see it incomplete… well they are wrong.

FOLLOW THIS ADVICE INSTEAD…

Set yourself up a landing page. This will act as an advert for your new company. You can include links to your social media here and a subscribe now button so that customers will be able to be the first to visit your website when it’s up and running with the added bonus that you start to build yourself up an email database.

Then start to create your website in the background.

If your website needs a fresh new look you can use this nugget of wisdom too. By building your website ‘behind the scenes’ it means that your customers can’t find your new pages and get distracted by half finished, unformatted pages, judging your professionalism by these standards. But just because your customers can’t see work doesn’t mean Google can’t.

Search engines love it when you upload new content, and when else are you uploading more content than when you’re setting up or updating your website! That’s the time that everything is new (and shiny). Those bots will eat up the new information and spit you out higher in their results.

Remember to keep reintroducing keywords and keyphrases in your updated content. But don’t take the mick! For example, some scallywags out there would encourage you to do things like put white text on white background repeating your keyphrases over and over. This may trick the bots for a while, providing quicker ranking results but once they’re onto you, you will be punished by plummeting down the ranks where you’ll be so low it’ll take most your life to climb back up that ladder.

That’s right… Google knows EVERYTHING.

I know that was a lot of information to throw at you in one go! That’s why I’ve split step 2 into two posts! I don’t want to completely overwhelm you!

So, come back in a couple of weeks for the next instalment!

Any questions or want use to create an SEO plan for you? Contact us or leave a message in the comments.

Make an SEO Plan for your Arts Business in 3 Simple Steps: Part One

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Digital Marketing, Technology

Here at The Arts Business we offer SEO Consultancy in which we create an SEO strategy specific to your business, analysing the pages of your website and those of your competitors with an action plan of exactly how to go about it improving your Search Engine Optimisation.  To learn more, click here.

But we are primarily educators and are firm believers that you should be able to do it yourself.

We have written a list of ways that you can boost your SEO!

Trust us, it’s really easy to do once you know how.

Just follow our instructions, without all the boring jargon!

 

What does SEO mean?

Let’s start with the basics.  SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation.  This, in a nutshell, is devising a plan to improve your ranking on Google’s Search Engine (or Bing, or Yahoo… or Ask Jeeves if you’re stuck in the noughties).

Google have bots that crawl through your website’s code and assess exactly what they think you should rank for and where.  I like to think of these as little bookworms who dig their way around your pages reading your content and then filing you into the appropriate place to help potential customers find you.

And there is plenty of stuff you can do to encourage this filing system to play into your favour. You want to get yourself filed at the front of that top drawer instead of falling behind the cabinet with little chance of being found until you next redecorate.

February is usually a pretty quiet time for the Creative Industries, so why not start a bit of early spring cleaning and scrub up your website so it’s working for you in the years to come.

But how? I hear you cry!

All you have to do is remember the 3 Rs! (No not reading, writing and arithmetic):

STEP 1: RESEARCH

STEP 2: REFINE

STEP 3: REACH OUT

Over the next few months The Arts Business will be looking at each step in detail (with Step 2 being published in 2 sections) starting right here, right now:

 

 

STEP ONE: RESEARCH

Starting with Keyword and Keyphrase Research.

KEYWORD & KEYPHRASE RESEARCH

I’m gonna throw a lot of terms at you but DON’T PANIC! I’ll break it all down.  Keywords are simply the individual words you want your business to rank for on Google and Keyphrases (you’ve probably guessed by now) are the phrases you want to rank for! See, Simples!

It’s important to be strategic about this.  For example, if you’re a small fringe theatre, like The Old Joint Stock Theatre in Birmingham, the first Keyword you think of might be ‘Theatre’.  Easy right? Well not quite.  Yes, you will obviously want to rank for theatre, but you need to think about what competition you will up against in order to rank on that first page of Google.

 

Without taking location into account, after the latest news and paid ads, the first three hits are: Wikipedia; London Theatre Tickets and The Standard Newspaper Reviews of the West End.

That is some strong competition you’re contending with and that’s only the first three hits!  Realistically, if you’re a small fringe theatre, you’re not moving in the same circle, nor do you want to.

So, specify!

Maybe instead you pick the Keyphrase ‘Birmingham Theatre’.  Even then you’re in competition with reviewers, other bigger scale theatres in Birmingham and ticket sites.

If you were to get a little more specific again you’d opt for the Keyphrase ‘Birmingham Fringe Theatre’ and boom, you’re on the first page of Google! Well done Old Joint Stock Theatre!

Once you have settled on a Keyword or Keyphrase you want to ensure that people are actually typing that phrase into google and hitting enter!  There are websites that can help you with that.  I like to use SEMRush. It’s a subscription service but has a limited number of free searches for Keywords or Keyphrases you can do daily if you create an account.

Coincidentally, SEMrush is also our App of the Month.

As you can see I have searched for the Keyphrase ‘Birmingham Theatres’ on SEMrush.

 

 

There is loads we can learn from this report:

  • Volume is simply the number of people who have used this particular search.
  • What country they were in is represented by that countries flag.
  • Under volume you will see Keyword Difficulty which roughly translated is how hard it would be to rank highly on Google for this phrase, 1% being not tricky at all 100% being nigh-on impossible.
  • We can also see if that phrase is currently trending and in what month people are most likely to search of it.

If you opt to pay for SEMrush, or choose to take advantage of their free trial when devising your SEO Report, you can also use this to see how your rivals are ranking for your keywords and keyphrases, what their content includes and what their average page word counts are and what back links they include.  This can be really helpful in acting as a guideline for your website.

Of course, if you don’t want to pay for SEMrush you could do this research through Google and trawling through your competitors website. It will take a little longer this way but if they’re ranking highly on Google for your keywords and keyphrases you’ll want to  find out why so it can act as a blueprint for your own website.

You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with your SEO Report, especially when doing your own report for the first time. My advice is to focus on 2-3 keyphrases initially.  If you reckon you can deal with more, go for it! But whatever you business, however large, I would recommend you keep it between 5 to 10 keywords and phrases.

Once you’ve decided on these you’re gonna want to find up to 20 words to use in copy which will assist you in ranking for your keyphrases. In basic terms these are the words you’ll want to use as much as you can in your content in order to boost your search engine visibility.

SEMrush also has suggestions for this dependent on your keyphrases, but these are basically words by association. You wanna rank for theatre? In the list you may put words like; entertainment, audience, drama, plays, acting, improvisation, etc.

 

GOOGLE RESEARCH

Of course, finding your own rankings can be time consuming so I suggest that if you are any further than page 10 assume no one is ever going to find you and get moving with your strategy.

Whilst you’re doing your Google research, you’re also going to want to check out how you look in Google:

 

The text in purple/blue is the title of the page, also known as your metatag or title tag. Whatever software you’ve used to build your website you can alter this pretty easily to say whatever you want. Simple things like capitalisation of letters and punctuation can make your website more appealing to click on. I like to use hyphens (-) or the straight line thingy (|) to separate out the information. This is also what you will see in your browser tabs.

The summary is just below the Metatag. When composing this, bear in mind you’re working with about 40 characters so make sure its concise and to the point.

QUESTION SITES

Another great place to do research is on websites like Yahoo Answers, Quora or Reddit. Just search for your specialist area (whether it be theatre, art, museums, galleries) and read through the questions that have been posed on these sites. You’ll get an idea of the types of subjects your Target Audience wants to know the answers to and you can use this to give you content creation ideas.

 

And there you have it, your research phase!

Next month we’ll teach you how to take all of your research and use it implement changes in order to optimise your website.

In the meantime if you have any questions or want use to create an SEO plan for you? Contact us or leave a message in the comments.

 

APP OF THE MONTH: HoursTracker

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, App of the Month

 

Name HoursTracker
Product Description The perfect app for freelancers! Track the work you do for the multitudes of companies you work for down to the minute by checking in and out and tracking your wages!
Availability Available on the Apple App Store and from the Google Play Store.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cribasoft.HoursTrackerFree.Android&hl=en_GB

https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/hours-tracker-hours-and-pay/id336456412

Key Features ·         If you spend your day flitting between companies and to do lists this app is perfect for clocking your hours for each individual job by hour, day, week and month.

·         Pay is added up for every minute you work!  HoursTracker also calculates an estimated net pay and any overtime.

·         Enter a job location to list in the order of jobs from closest to furthest

·         Tags help you to organise what jobs are active, billable and have been paid

·         Note how many hours your expected to do each day and when.  HoursTracker lets you know when to clock out and gives you a 15 minute warning so you can wrap up

·         Quick and easy to learn, as soon as you register your first job it’s all pretty self-explanatory

·         Shortcuts make navigation of the app super quick and easy.

Prices and Plans It starts completely free which only allows you to enter a limited number of jobs.  To upgrade from the personal to pro version is a one off payment of £4.99 and that pretty much opens all of the app’s capabilities.  Trust me when I say it is well worth it.
Biggest Pro It has a beautiful simplicity which basically allows all freelancers who work for multiple companies to live a much simpler, more organised life!
Biggest Con It would be nice to be able to figure out different amounts of tax through this app but you can’t have everything and even without this it’s still pretty great

 

All in all, a brilliant app which does exactly what it says on the tin!