Art institutions have a wealth of information to share with the online world, but without SEO the world simply won’t see it. Making it easy for search engines to find and organize your content is key to bringing more visitors to your website.
This week’s ArtEvolve speaker is Mackenzie Garrity, Chief Commercial Officer at Articheck. With seven years of experience working with businesses to drive growth, and an Adjunct Professor in Marketing & Communications, she’ll be giving you actionable methods and strategies to improve your visibility online.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic search engine results. SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to grow visibility, which means:
- improving search result ranking
- driving traffic to your website or other online properties
- increasing awareness of your organization
Why do we need SEO?
- The majority of web traffic is driven by the major commercial search engines.
- Search engines are the primary method of purposeful navigation for most Internet users.
- Search engines are unique in that they provide targeted traffic – people looking for what you offer.
How do search engines work?
Understanding search engines is key to be able to optimize how your organization appears in search results. Let’s consider:
A crawler is a program that visits websites and reads their pages and other information in order to create entries for a search engine index. These programs are known as ‘spiders’ or ‘bots’.
The information collected by the crawler is organized and stored for later use by the search engine.
Search engines provide answers to questions called ‘search queries’. The answers search engines provide are organized by both relevance and popularity. Relevance and popularity of pages are determined by the search engine’s algorithm.
- Relevance: Is this the answer to the searcher’s question?
- Popularity: How many visitors does the page and website have? How long do the visitors spend on the website?
So, if for example, someone was searching for ‘works by monet’, the rules of the algorithm are applied to a website and its pages, and the webpages are then displayed in the search engine results page in a specific order.
Understanding how users search
Individuals typing questions into search engines are your audience – your potential customers, existing clients, potential partners, visitors to your institution, etc. Understanding the types of queries they make will help your art institution figure out how to connect with them and bring them to your site.
Search queries fall into three types:
Do: Transactional queries. I want to do something. e.g. purchase, watch a video, read an article
Know: Informational queries. I need to know something. e.g. Name of artist, event dates
Go: Navigational queries. I want to find a digital location. e.g. Organization’s website, A Linkedin profile
Exercise: You are organizing a special exhibition called “BLM: Social Justice Through Art”. It opens June 2021 and runs through the end of the year. You have a page on your website dedicated to the exhibition. The page includes further information and the ability to reserve tickets in advance. What do, know, go search queries might a user type into a search engine to find your organization’s webpage?
Watch the recording above for answers and examples of how to apply do, know, go search queries to art organizations!
Working with search engines
Search Engines follow a logical process based on their algorithm. You can reasonably predict what actions will improve your Search Ranking, but search engines do have their limitations (after all, they are machines not people!)
Search Engines can’t easily understand:
- Online forms
- Duplicate Pages
- Poorly organized websites aka “Poor Link Structures”
- Badly written text content
- Non-text content
- Uncommon terms (For example, a collector may use a different term to a conservator. Or perhaps your organisation uses a specific name for a process and rest of industry uses a different term. This could be because that term is the name of a product or service offering specific to your organization).
The longer it takes a user to go from A to B on your website, to locate what they’re looking for, the less likely it is they will actually try. A website with an optimal link structure has main category pages that connect to each other and to the homepage, and smaller posts or pages that connect to categories and the homepage, as well as each other when relevant. This makes it easy both for the user and the crawler to navigate your website.
Exercise: Search engine bots don’t analyze images in the same way a human does. So while an art professional looking at the image below knows exactly what’s happening, a bot needs extra information.
How would you describe the image below to a bot/crawler?
SEO Recommendations for Art Organizations
- Improve Your Relevance Ranking.
- Make a list of DO KNOW GO keywords that your audience might type into the search box (“search queries”).
- Make sure to consider synonyms and alternative phrasing your audience may use to search.
- Incorporate your list of keywords into the text of your website.
- Label photos and videos with text including your keywords.
- Improve Your Popularity Ranking.
- Give your audience a reason to visit your website more often: create a plan to periodically post new content. E.g. News section, blog, webinars, case studies
- Share your new content with your audience via email and social media. Invite them to share with others.
- Create reasons for your audience to stay on your website longer: add video content, improve your link structure, or add opportunities for engagement.
- Set up Google Analytics for your website.
- Check your link structure
- Check your menu includes all main pages of your website.
- Make sure every page links back to the homepage in some way.
- Look for floating pages that aren’t connected to anything.
- Link important pages in multiple places.
Thank you for joining our SEO Masterclass, part of the ArtEvolve webinar series!