6 SEO Best Practices for Events

Shannon Walsh Sep 5 2017

SEO Best Practices for Events - Portent
There are so many moving parts when running an event large or small that it’s easy to let online optimization be an afterthought. Sidelining SEO, however, means missing out on a lot of organic visitors and awareness. A solid organic presence makes a huge difference in attracting more attendees’ year after year. Here are five basic best practices to keep in mind as you create your page or site.

1. Leave the Year Out of the Domain Name or URL

If you’re running an event that happens every year. Don’t date yourself by putting the year in the domain name or the URL. The event should have an evergreen landing page that doesn’t include a year.

As an example, I’m using “Baby Goats and Brews”. And yes, that’s a real event in Seattle which is already in its second year. Full disclosure: they don’t have an actual website yet but the name alone was too good to pass up for illustrative purposes.

Your event URL should look something like this:

http://www.babyanimalsandbrews.com/baby-goats

not this:

https://www.babyanimalsandbrews.com/events/baby-goats-2017

or this:

https://www.babygoatsandbrews2017.com

Otherwise, you’ll have to redirect the domain or URL every year to the new domain or page and have to start building domain authority all over again. All those links you worked so hard to earn last year won’t transfer to the new event page nearly as well.

Pro Tip: When the event is over, move the content, i.e. videos, pictures, featured tweets and sponsor or speaker info, to an archive. That way, you still get to keep all of those cute goat pictures from last year.

https://www.babyanimalsandbrews/baby-goats/2017

Point the archived pages back to the permanent URL to start amassing authority and relevance for your event.

2. Use Event Schema

Structured data is becoming more and more important. It gives the words on your page context for search engines so that they can understand what your content actually means and not just what it says.

Search engines already have to make sense out of the unstructured text and content on the page and make a “guess” about its purpose. Make it easier for search engines by providing structured content for them as well. I can almost guarantee you’ll be happy you took the time.

One of the newer forms of structured data supported by search engines is Event Schema. Using it thoroughly and correctly on your site will give your event page or site a boost in search results.

Example of Event schema markup from Schema.org

Event Schema Markup Example from Schema.org

Some of the other examples of Event Schema can look a little scary if you don’t have an SEO or developer to help out, but the result for users is a super clean, obvious, and clickable result.

Desktop result showing Schema markup for Event SEO

A desktop result with Event Schema

Mobile search results showing Event Schema markup for SEO

A mobile result with Event Schema

3. Optimize Titles, Descriptions, and H1s

Whatever you do, don’t neglect basic on-site SEO best practices. Yes, I know it’s obvious. Yes, you still have to eat your vegetables.

In addition to the name of your event, include a generic description in the title tag like “Seattle Beer Tasting” so that people who aren’t already familiar with the event can find you.

For events that happen in different locations each year, remember that you’ll need to update both the year and the new city.

Explain the value of the event right away on the homepage or event page. Who should come to this event? Why should they want to? What is the value they’re going to get out of coming?

And again, you’ll want to optimize both the meta description and H1 for the city the event is in as well as the calendar year.

4. Include Transcripts for Videos

Video is a fantastic way to build excitement around your next event. Live action video from a past year is a great way to give people a sneak peek at what they’ll be able to expect, surface what’s new in an engaging way, and to reach audiences who simply prefer “watching” to reading.

Unfortunately, Googlebot can’t watch videos (yet), so you’ll need to include a transcript if you want to get the full SEO value from your video. Consider a service like Rev.com to lighten the workload for this kind of transcription.

If your video features a speaker or has a lot of narrated content describing what your event will be about, use schema markup to add a transcript of the video to the HTML of the page. The simplest way to do this and the method that’s preferred by Google is JSON-LD.

That might sound technical and a little daunting, but it’s just a little snippet of code added to the head section of the page. Schema.org has detailed documentation on the types of information you can include in your markup. We also put out a guide to using JSON-LD for SEO last year. The more you can use this, the better.

If you want to get more in-depth on optimizing your site’s video content, check out this post on optimizing video content for SEO.

5. List Your Event On Directory Sites in Your Industry

Industry directories are one of the best-known, lowest effort ways to pick up backlinks to your site. Even better, they’re links from highly relevant sites, which Google sees as a sign of extra quality and legitimacy. You want these links.

What’s more, the best directories are those that are both relevant and complete meaning they want to include a link to you.

Your job is to scout the main websites in your industry for listings of events like yours. One easy way is to type “{your industry} festivals {year}” or “{your industry} conferences {year}” into Google and review the sites that show up on page one. If your event isn’t listed on the top directory or ticketing sites, send them a message letting them know that your event exists and why it would be relevant for their users.

Again, this doesn’t just help to get your event in front of people who would likely be interested in attending; it’s a strong relevance signal to search engines that your event belongs in this industry.

If you list your event in multiple places, make sure the descriptions you use are unique. Search engines strongly prefer unique content, even though it takes a little extra elbow grease.

6. Use Google Posts

Google now allows businesses to feature events on their Google My Business listings. If you’re not already familiar, Google My Business is a great way to boost your visibility as a business at the moments that users are searching for you, or for a general business in your niche.

Adding events to this listing is incredibly easy to do and the relevant posts will show until the event is over. Keep in mind these events only display alongside your brand or specific location’s Google My Business listing, so they will only show up for branded searches or if a user clicks through to your listing via the “snack pack” or Google Maps. Regardless, they’re free to create, painlessly easy, and a great way to promote events to both current and prospective customers.

You’re allowed one CTA button in this kind of post, which you can use to send users anywhere on your site. Just make sure you include UTM codes in the URL to track click activity since these posts don’t yet integrate with Google Analytics automatically.

Key Takeaways: SEO best practices for events

  • Change the domain and URL as little as possible.
  • Use as much schema as you can.
  • Convey the value of your event to your target audience in the metadata and content of your site.
  • Look for linking opportunities within your event’s industry.

Oh, and throw a kick-ass event. I’ll expect an invitation shortly.

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks much for this concise list! One thing I would add, which you’ve assumed, is that the event needs its own page. Seems simple enough, but my clients often clump different events onto one long event page; that of course can’t be optimized to get the most value from each event.

    Great reference. Thanks!

    • Shannon Walsh

      Shannon Walsh

      Yep, every event should have its own page. Thanks for clarifying, Janet!

  2. Thanks for sharing this helpful article Shannon.

    I have a quick question for you.

    What are your thoughts on transcribing long videos, videos that last up to an hour? And does it pay off in the long run?

    Kind regards,
    Filip

    • Shannon Walsh

      Shannon Walsh

      Hey Filip, transcripts from long videos can definitely provide a great starting point for a blog post!

      In the context of events, it might make more sense to include highlights from the video in the copy of the page. You can also mark up videos with structured data and include a transcript there so search engines can crawl it but it doesn’t take up space on the page.
      If you want more information I’d recommend this post on video optimization for SEO.

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