If your venue has facilities and services for commercial purposes alongside your arts offering, you’ll probably have found that the commercial marketplace is highly competitive and it’s harder to stand out.
Your local audience know you put on a great show but they might not know that you also have a cosy café and shop. They know you run yoga classes in your studio, but they might not know your studio space is available to hire for parties, meetings and conferences. So how can you communicate this?
What is local SEO?
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the practice of tailoring content on your website to make it rank higher in search engine results. The aim is to make your webpages appear as high as possible, with a key milestone being the first page of Google results and the top three results being the gold standard of SEO.
Local SEO takes this and specifically applies it to local facilities and services, helping you target local users. If you were a bookshop based in Leeds, for example, you would want your webpages to appear for anyone in Leeds searching for books or nearby bookshop-related terms.
SEO that targets local audiences is really important when you have to compete against other organisations for commercial business away from your core offering. This kind of optimisation is also incredibly useful for ensuring the right people see any job or volunteering opportunities at your venue.
How do my pages rank?
A really quick and easy test you can carry out is to search for terms relevant to your facilities or services and see where your pages rank in the results. If you have a studio space for hire, search for terms such as ‘hire a studio in [your town]’ and see what you get.
For accurate results, use a device that you don’t use for work or open a private browser window – otherwise your browser may remember that you regularly visit your own website and show your pages higher than they would appear to a new user.
If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to create a specific page for the facility or service you want to attract business to. For example, if you have an auditorium for hire, create a page on your site and write the content with your local audience and search engines in mind – so give it a clear title and make sure you can find this page easily on your website by adding it to the menu.
How do I know what local people are searching for?
Local keyword research can give you an overview of how well your webpages are ranking for specific terms or phrases in your location. Most importantly, this research can identify the exact words and phrases you should add to text on your website in order to attract more relevant traffic.
Good keyword research will also provide a competitor analysis, this will tell you what keywords your local commercial competitors are ranking for – so you can do it better.
There are plenty of keyword research tools online to make this easier, and it’s also a service that digital agencies and freelance marketers can provide you with for a relatively low cost.
What is listing management?
Listing management is the practice of amending key information about your organisation to ensure it is always accurate and up to date. Good listing management improves the findability of your offering as well as your search rankings.
Information about your organisation will be stored in a huge array of locations online and offline, including social media, databases and much more. Google creates local listings and pulls information – such as opening times, contact details, and web links – into one place. This has an impact on everything from search results to the answers given by Siri and Alexa.
No one likes showing up to a café that Google said would be open until 5pm to find it’s already closed. No one likes calling or emailing a business to enquire about renting an auditorium to only get a dialling tone or automatic no-reply email in response. Listing management prevents you losing business and alienating potential customers.
How to keep listings updated
It is a massive hassle to keep on top of all of these listings, so plenty of listings management solutions have popped up to provide this service for an annual fee, and it’s a service many digital agencies and freelance marketers can provide support with too.
You will be able to suggest edits for Google’s listings yourself if you notice anything outdated by setting up a Google Business Profile. But the best place to start yourself is to ensure that information on your website is accurate and up to date.
Out with the old and in with the new – it’s time to give your website a good spring cleaning…
Here’s your spring-cleaning checklist to help a local audience find your commercial offering:
o Create a specific webpage for each commercial facility or service you offer.
o Include targeted local keywords in your webpage text and metadata on these pages.
o Make the user journey to find this information quick and easy.
o Check all your listings are up to date across your site, social media and Google.
o Seek the help of a digital agency or freelance marketer if you want some expert support.
Has it worked? How do you measure success?
There are several ways to know if your efforts have paid off. You can look into your analytics data and see if your traffic has improved. You can see if your pages are ranking higher for your target keywords. You can set up specific website forms for commercial enquiries to better track conversions.
It’s possible that with a few small changes to content across your site, you could see some amazing results. Ultimately, these changes will help increase awareness of your offering and lead to more revenue for your local arts organisation.
Ell Powell is Senior Content Writer at Splitpixel.
This article is part of a series contributed by Splitpixel to share expertise on how best to apply accessibility and inclusivity principles in digital spaces.