Now that we’ve had a quick look at the beginnings of online marketing, it’s time to start looking at what you, as venue marketeers, can do to start bringing in brand new customers online.
Your own website is the place to start, and you should play a big part in deciding how it looks. Whether you are building it yourself, or are outsourcing it to a web developer, it should be a reflection of your business - and you know that best!
It should also be designed to rank highly on Google so new customers can find it. Optimising your website for search engines - what's known as SEO, or search engine optimisation - is fundamental to online marketing.
In this post, we'll cover keyword research, metadata and finally page content. All simple things, and the starting point for everything else.
Deciding which people you want to attract to your website is all important. Keyword research is crucial for understanding your audience.
Think of keywords as the phrases people type into Google when they’re looking for something. For example, ‘birthday party venues’ or ‘find London conference rooms.'
Online marketing used to be all about optimising for these 'keywords.' This is because Google, in the past, has only really understood words as isolated things - like fragments of information. Therefore, SEO used to be about choosing which keywords were best for your business and then writing it lots of times on your website so it would match up to people's searches.
Nowadays, Google is much better at understanding the context around the words typed into its search box. It's all about user intent, and keyword research is primarily useful in that it helps you to understand trends about your online audience. It's about finding out useful information, such as how many people are searching for certain things online, and how many other websites are trying to win that business.
Hire Space's favourite keyword research tool is Google Adwords Keyword Planner. The image below shows some of the information presented for the keyword ‘birthday party venues’:
Ignore the 'Suggested Bid' and 'Ad Impr. Share' bits. You're interested in the other bits for now.
You can see how many people are searching for the keyword each month, and how competitive it is. This is all useful information which should help you to decide what type of customers are most worth targeting.
You might decide, for instance, that 'birthday party venues' is too competitive, and decide to build a page on your website around something more specific - such as '21st birthday parties.'
The terms you decide upon should inform your metadata, which we'll look at below, and the content you write about on your site.
Ultimately, what you are looking for is clues about user behaviour. How many people are searching for your services, and what exactly are they looking for?
Once you understand this and can relate it to your business, you’re in a strong position to start optimising your website and planning your marketing.
A quick thing to keep in mind when designing your website or blog is that page’s metadata. This is nowhere near as complicated as it sounds - it is just the information displayed to Google in the website’s code. Think of it as a message to Google about what your website is about.
The important bits of metadata from an online marketing perspective are the Meta Title and the Meta Description. Your URL is also important. Have a look at the image below, which appears in Google's search results. The line at the top is the Meta Title. This gives a big clue to Google and other search engines as to what that page is about. So Hire Space’s Meta Title includes the words ‘Venue Booking Website.’ Yours might include ‘Conference Venue’ or ‘Yoga Studio.’
The second line, in green, is your URL. It also appears in the address box at the top of your browser, like in the image below for a different Hire Space page. Include your relevant keywords in the first few words, and keep it short!
The Meta Description is the third part of this, made up of a sentence or two. This is great for encouraging people to click through to your website. Keep it engaging, and with an accurate description of what your website does.
Your metadata reflects your business offering and is very important in helping Google to understand your website. Make it the first thing you do - or ask your website developer to.
Great user experiences
Once you’ve identified your audience and included your metadata, it’s time to design a website your users will love. This is the fun bit!
Remember, the key thing here is user intent. What are people trying to achieve when they land on your website? As venue owners, you’ll have a pretty good idea of why someone would be on your website. Your website’s job is to bring them over the line.
Think about what helps people decide on a venue to book. If our experience at Hire Space is anything to go by, then photos, customer testimonials and videos are great aids. This kind of engaging content will engage your visitors and stop them from clicking ‘back’ when they land on your page. Lots of clicking back leads to a high ‘Bounce Rate’, which Google frowns upon.
Also, think about including social sharing buttons on your site. As we mentioned in the last post, social media is an increasingly effective weapon in your online marketing arsenal. Put links to your Facebook and Twitter, if you have them (more on that later), and encourage people to share your page.
Finally, make sure you have some text on your website explaining the service you offer. Google still understands words best and will scan your pages for clues about what your website is about. It's not about stuffing your page with your keywords anymore, but knowing what your audience is looking for, and reflecting that in your content, is still the best way to keep readers engaged. Google is getting better at picking up on synonyms too, so use those. “Party”, “Event”, “Gathering” are all related words, and Google will pick up on that.
3 things to remember
Ultimately, three things are really worth remembering:
- Understand your audience through keyword research
- Tell Google what the page is about using metadata
- Engage your audience with relevant content
You can go deeper into it than this if you really catch the SEO bug, but ultimately, if you get these three simple things right, you'll be well on your way.
See you next time for another key part of online marketing - link building!
The full series
You can see the full breakdown for the series below:
- A brief history of online marketing
- On page SEO
- Google Analytics
- Introduction to Content Marketing
- Introduction to Facebook Marketing
- Introduction to LinkedIn Marketing
- Introduction to Twitter Marketing