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.

 

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The Technical Spectacle

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Entertainment, Technology, Theatre

Our worlds are becoming increasingly more engulfed by technology. Even the little things we do in life are often governed by our mobile phones.  I’m sure I’m not alone when I tell you that the first thing I do in the morning is roll over and check my phone for messages and emails I may have missed in the night.  In fact, if I ever leave the house without my mobile I feel like I’ve lost an arm. But if technology is so prominent in our everyday life, shouldn’t this be reflected in the work we create?  How would that work?

Let’s start by looking at the 2017 production of ‘The Tempest’, from the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).  They didn’t get an endorsement from Kim Kardashian or throw in a celebrity that came 4th in X-factor in 2009.  No, they did something different.  Something that has never been attempted in theatre before.  They decided to employ tactics from the technical revolution working alongside Intel to create the first ever live avatar with an onstage performer.  Just the idea of this spectacle seduced curious audiences into buying tickets months in advance and has challenged theatre on the whole to work out ways to integrate available technology into their own work.

 

The idea of creating a spectacle to sell tickets isn’t original in itself.  This can be seen throughout history, all the way back to the Roman Amphitheatres where a variety of shows from gory gladiator fights taking centre stage to entire arenas being flooded where epic sea battles could be re-enacted.  The Tyne Theatre and Opera House in Newcastle is the only remaining theatre in the UK to have full working stage conveyor belts upon which galloping horses could run towards the audience (obviously not used today, imagine the paperwork, but fascinating none the less).  And I once saw a circus in Shanghai, where I assume health and safety laws are slightly different to the UK, in which a motorcyclist rode into an enormous spherical cage with enough speed to propel him upside down on the ceiling.  What’s more amazing is that he was then joined by not one, not two, but FIVE additional riders all travelling round missing each other by inches.  What a finale!  My point is the RSC understood that spectacle sells, conceiving a unique idea which would intrigue and astound.  And the new way to do this?  Technology.

 

Before Pokémon Go and Wizards Unite, Intel created an incredible Virtual Reality (VR) experience at their Annual General Meeting in 2014.  Audiences downloaded an app on their phones and filmed the main cinema screen which was showing a computer animated whale.  Much to the shock of the spectators the whale burst out of the screen and out over the crowd.  This footage went viral and, more importantly, gave the RSC an idea.  What if this technology could be pushed a little further?  What if we took Ariel, a fantastical fairy known for his mood swings, and designed magical projections to illustrate them?  Is there a way the fairy can mimic an actor’s performance live onstage accurately?  In asking these questions and reaching out to Intel an exciting partnership began.

 

I must admit I have a great respect for the RSC in reaching out to a company like Intel to work with and sponsor their production.  I mean, the resources that a company like intel has available to them in additional to the funding they can afford to invest must be incredible.  Imagine Intel put in £100,000.  They have processors in pretty much every computer and laptop available on the market.  That must seem like pocket change to them, but imagine what that kind of money means to a charitable arts organisation.  Additionally, they have the talent and equipment to push these boundaries.  For them to be seen using these facilities to increase awareness and audience for the arts is beneficial for both parties.

 

Now, I know what many of you will be thinking.  The RSC is one of the largest theatre companies in the country.  They also have the added bonus of being popularised within the tourism industry.  The Swan Theatre is, of course, in Stratford, the birthplace of the most famous playwright ever to have lived, William Shakespeare.  The budget they have every year is insane!  In a small scale company with a minute if not non-existent budget a feet like this would be improbable, impractical, impossible.

 

But Why?  Why should we be limited by the size of our company?  Why not limit ourselves to the size of our endless imaginations?

There are plenty of small start-up tech firms or talented freelancers out there who would be delighted to give some of their time to work on a cross collaborative project. One to keep your eye on over the next couple of years is ‘Digital Midsummer’ in which Artistic Director Rebecca Gadsby is creating a production intending to lead the way in performative digital technology to connect younger audiences and first-time theatre goers to Shakespeare.  It is innovative theatre companies like this that I hope will inspire the future of productions.

 

Another thing to consider is that as technology becomes more advanced it gets cheaper to produce and more accessible to the masses. You need only look at intel’s development of entertainment drone shows to see how quickly technology can progress starting with their collaborative Christmas show with Disney only 3 years ago where you could just about make out a revolving Christmas tree in the sky, to their most recent and world record breaking display at the end of last year where 2018 drones flew perfectly synchronised into the sky to form a wonderfully detailed image of a brain.

 

It is about finding something different. It’s about working with someone different.

 

Have you used technology or worked with technology companies in any of your creative endeavours recently? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!

 

Find out more about the Tyne Theatre and Opera House HERE

Watch that Intel Whale burst out the cinema screen HERE

Watch the 2016 Intel and Disney Christmas Drone Show HERE

Watch Intel’s World Record Breaking Drone Show HERE

Learn more about Rebecca Gadsby’s Digital Midsummer HERE

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Social Media Platforms

10 Tricks to Stand Out on Social Media

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Marketing, Social Media, Technology

 

Most arts organisations are using social media, but the problem is most of the creative industries are using social media because they feel like they have to. It’s the “Everyone else is doing it so maybe we should to” kind of attitude.

I interviewed for a company recently who promote themselves as a marketing organisation for poetry and spoken word performers. To prepare I checked out their social media presence. It is safe to say that it was not particularly inspiring. Take for example their YouTube channel. They had loads of videos up there with a good variety of the performers and some interesting content but these videos averaged about 20 views each. 20 views! And, in all honesty, that was at best. (When I was at college I made a joke video of my friend dancing in a kitchen… In a day I had 50 views just by sharing it with mates on MSN Messenger.) For a company that sells itself on promotion, if anything, this is detrimental to their campaign. If you go on to an advert for a festival or event on YouTube which are you going to attend? The festival that has 10,000 views and positive comments or the one with 20 and no interaction.

Now don’t get me wrong, I commend the effort, but they were posting because they felt they had to, because everyone else was doing it. They clearly had no understanding of why they were doing it and how to get the best from it.

So here are 10 fool proof ways to get you started with successful social media campaigns!

 

(I will go into more details of how to best use specific platforms and features in social media in later posts but you can use these basic ideas as a jumping off point so at least now you know where to begin)

 

  1. Choose the social media that suits your business

Often, when first setting up, businesses feel obliged to set up pages on absolutely every platform there is out there. Not only is this incredibly difficult to maintain but it is entirely unnecessary. Are you a photographer? Then why not think about Instagram to begin with. The focus is on imagery and it comes with built in editing software and analytics. Images are after all what you produce and what you want your audience to see. Do you design knitwear? Think about Pinterest or Ravelry. Ravelry is a social media group specifically designed for lovers of crochet and knitting so it would be easier to find your target audience and like-minded folk. I saw a knitting cabaret show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year which could have done really well promoting through Ravelry!  Pinterest focuses on craft and images and has recently introduced a business platform from which you can sell your work. This opens business opportunity and currently has limited competition. Are you a museum or gallery looking to promote your conference centre? Go straight for LinkedIn! This way professionals and conglomerates can find you easily and learn what you have to offer over other providers.

Going straight on to Twitter and Facebook is never a bad idea but be warned. You may think that surely this is where you will find your audience because of the number of users. Everyone’s on Facebook right? Well yes, but so is every business. There is a lot of competition and it can be difficult to get noticed!

Twitter has a similar problem. A tweet has an average life span of 18 minutes or less according to Moz.com. When you think about the number of people tweeting this might not seem so bad, but chances are your tweet will be lost in the ether to a post from Stephen Fry informing us of what he had for breakfast. So research your hashtags to know which ones will stand out from the crowd and gain some power from your tweets.

 

  1. Post relevant content

When you run out of ideas it can be tempting to Instagram that coffee and cake your having for an afternoon snack. But stop right there! Remember your audience! They are following you to learn more your company and your message. They really don’t care about your daily eating habits.

If you’re having content block, then never fear! This is when content curation comes in. Perhaps you’re an art gallery: your exhibition has been up and running for two weeks with two more weeks to go and you don’t want to keep bombarding your audience with more messages regurgitating information they have already read. How about some interviews with the visitors? Get some live responses for how they found the exhibition. Perhaps there are published reviews about your event you can link to. What about other galleries doing similar work to you? Or previous articles written about the artists in question? Think outside the box and link to these sites. If you let them know they might even link to you on their social media in reciprocation and beautiful working relationships can be formed.

 

  1. Post content consistently

I cannot stress how incredibly important this is: for your audience, your search engine optimisation (SEO) and your online reputation management (ORM).

Many companies, ever optimistically, begin the social media marathon with a sprint, posting on Facebook all day every day. After a while one of two things can happen, either there’s not enough time in the day or there’s not enough interesting, relevant content to keep generating posts at this pace. If you drop off dramatically this can affect your online presence in multiple ways. If you go on to businesses Facebook page and see that no one has posted any content for 3 weeks when before they were posting once every couple of hours what would you think? At worst, you may query if they even still exist, at best you think if they’re too lackadaisical to maintain their online presence what else are they too lazy to do? Google will also take this information into account. If all of a sudden, a site stops posting new content when it has been renewing posts at full throttle you will be moved down the Search Engine List. It will damage your ability to be found through organic search and your online reputation.

What is important to note is that you don’t have to post this much! Take for example accomplished arts blog PostSecret. Started in 2005 by Frank Warren and still going strong today it reached out to the community of America, and now the world, asking them to send in their personal secrets illustrated on a postcard. Not only did Frank Warren tap into the community, after all we all have secrets, but since 2005 he posted a fresh blog post every Sunday. This has now been taken over by someone else but continues the same pattern. The audience don’t get frustrated when they check it out on a Wednesday there aren’t any new postcards because they know the drill, some checking back every Sunday religiously, but what if this suddenly stopped? The audience would trail off, some would never return. Over time google would recognise the lack of consistency its position in a search engine would also drop off.

So, remain consistent. If you’re a small arts organisation and feel you can only commit an hour a week or even a month to social media then fine. Start at that slow pace. Your audience will recognise the pattern and come back after the next time frame to check again. It is better to start slow and grow your online presence with your business than to start off all guns blazing and drop off abruptly, both for your community and your SEO.

 

  1. Link your social media platforms together

We see everywhere nowadays websites have links to Facebook and Twitter built into the pages. This is important as it draws more followers to our Social Media. Not only does this increase the likelihood of likes and shares from our posts reaching new audience but it can also act as an easier method to keep our audience up to date with what’s new. So simple, so effective!

This isn’t it though. You can also link your pages together. For example, on Instagram and Twitter there are options to share whatever you’re posting on Facebook as well. You can take this to another level by using software like Hootsuite (where you get a 30 day free trial or can run 3 social media platforms for free) you can easily manage all of your business pages from one place. You can schedule to post at specific times, decide which sites to post on and easy engage with audience. The great thing about Hootsuite is that they offer free online courses in both how to best utilise their software and the fundamentals of Social Media Marketing so you can really get to grips with it and eventually become an expert. If you do decide on this option remember not to share all posts on every platform. Your community deserve unique content for their dedication to following you and some posts that are relevant for Facebook, a more casual platform, may not be suitable for LinkedIn. You don’t want people opening up your page in a professional environment and seeing links to your after-show party with the Chippendales.

 

  1. Upload Headers, Profile Pictures, Photos and Logos.

This may seem obvious but there are plenty of people out there who don’t do it! Simply put, it looks inattentive and unprofessional. It discourages likes and follows which will basically lead to no conversions! And nowadays there is no excuse. With high powered digital cameras on our mobile phones and tablets and editing software built in both to applications and social media sites it is simple to create quality, professional looking, unique images with limited effort. You don’t even need to be a good photographer. And remember, pictures engage people more than text!

Branding is always important in marketing so ensuring your logo is easily found on your pages. This constantly reminds your visitors who you are and what you do. It’s a straightforward way to keep your business at the front of the viewers mind at all times and to ooze professionality.

 

  1. Keep Up to Date with new platforms and features

Social Media is being updated all the time. With the pace of technological development almost every day we are confronted with new challenges and with these come new opportunities.

I cannot stress the importance of exploring new features! Even after a few years of its first launch, if you broadcast a live video on Facebook their algorithm has been adapted to boost you near the top of a followers Newsfeed. This allows Facebook to promote the Live option for other users but is highly beneficial for you as it means your live videos are boosted for free and will therefore (for the meantime) attract more viewers. I am incredibly excited for the near future extended use of VR and AR within Social Media platforms and imagine when these add-ons are introduced a similar boosting method will be put in place. Also remember: the newer the feature the less competitors will be using it which, for some reason, is especially the case in the creative industries.

 

So be on trend, be modern, be exciting, be now. Let your social media reflect your business.

 

  1. Be Honest and Relatable.

I know that this seems obvious, but it is incredibly important to remember with every tweet, Instagram or post! The best way to engage your audience is to find a way to relate to them: whether the situation demands finding a way to make your target audience laugh or cry try and discover that sweet spot. Speak to them the way you would like to be spoken to, give them content you would like to see, then sit back and watch your audience grow.

And, of course, always tell them the truth. I could go into detail on this but if I am being honest the perfect example of what not to do already exists: Fyre Festival. If you haven’t already seen it (then, quite frankly, where have you been) the Netflix documentary acts as a checklist for exactly how not to use Social Media. In brief: you can’t just use popular models to promote a bespoke, expensive festival that doesn’t really exist and expect in the world of the social media empire that the truth won’t out.

 

  1. Do your keyword and hashtag research.

Organic Search traffic, believe it or not, is still a key method to get noticed. I have been promoting a show for the Edinburgh Fringe recently and every time I put out a post using #edfringe #edfringe2019 or #MakeYourFringe I get at least one new follower on Twitter. I appreciate that it is also presumably the incredibly honest and relatable posts I share, yet it never ceases to amaze me how powerful the hashtag can be. Using existing popular hashtags helps you tap into a ready existing supply of your target audience. Additionally, creating your own hashtags for certain campaigns makes it easy for you to track the people who are interacting with you.

You also need to think about your keywords as these will seriously help to improve the SEO of your website. I know what you’re thinking, how can what I put on Social Media help to build the online reputation of my business page. The simple answer is that the google algorithms are very clever and take all accounts that are linked with your website into consideration when your determinising your search engine ranking for certain search terms. For example, if you’re running a start up museum in Birmingham you probably want to be ranking for the search term ‘Birmingham Museum’ so start using this in your posts. It takes some time, months and sometimes years, but it really is that simple. Don’t try and abuse the system though. You can’t just post ‘BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM’ over and over again all day every day. As I said, Google is very clever: they will read this as spam and rank you lower!

  1. Use Analytics.

I find it remarkable the number of companies who don’t use their built-in analytics. Think about it, if 20 years ago you turned to say a touring theatre company and said: “Publish an advert in our newspaper and in return we will tell you everyone who has seen that advert, gone out of their way to learn more about it and continued on to make a ticket purchase because of it. In addition, we will also be able to provide you with certain demographic information about your audience for no extra charge.” It basically would have been an impossibly, some kind of voodoo magic. But think about what it could have done to help your marketing campaigns! If you knew that for example a national paper with touring listings had sold you 10 tickets and local papers with local listings had sold 100 tickets, then wouldn’t you change your strategy into putting more time and money into local papers?

This is the information that social media platforms offer businesses for free! It answers all your questions and loads you didn’t even have so you can know exactly which posts and ads work and which don’t. Questions like:

  • What time will my posts get the most views?
  • What kind of content works best on my posts?
  • How do I maximise post interaction?
  • How many people clicked through the link on my post?
  • Should I post a gif, an image or a video?

There are countless queries but you get the idea. Use analytics to figure out the overall and most constructive use of your time.

 

  1. REMEMBER: It’s all about community!

Fundamentally, this is the reason SOCIAL networks were set up in the first place. They act as community groups in the digital age: a way for us to keep in touch with one another and businesses online. It is your opportunity to reach your exact target audience and with patience and consistency its possible to build this for free.

In addition to most of the world being on a social media platform of some kind you can also get specific really easily as there are already so many existing Community Groups out there, especially on Facebook. I have found ‘advertising’ or posting on pre-existing community groups incredibly useful whether your targeting people from a specific location or with certain interests or both these groups are often already out there! I worked for a circus skills company in Birmingham for a while and a lot more traction for their festival was made by posting on groups about: circus skills across the UK and internationally; the Birmingham Arts scene; the Birmingham festivals network; the local Digbeth community. The possibilities are endless! So think about the group you’re looking for and search for it on Facebook! Chances are there is already one you can join and campaign to.

 

These 10 tips will be enough to get you started on social media! So enjoy! And get moving!

If you have any queries or suggestions for future posts about social then contact us or put it in the comments below and I will endeavour to get back you!

 

Read that Moz Article about Twitter HERE

Join Hootsuite HERE

Check out Ravelry HERE

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