The venue search landscape is changing and what happened to hotels is happening to venues. Directory websites dominate Google’s main results page.
It’s not that Google wants to take your traffic away, it simply wants to steer users to other search verticals (like venue search websites) it considers more useful for venue search.
SEO isn’t over for venues though. Maps is increasingly popular, and useful, as a venue search tool and on maps, venues are more likely to outrank venue search websites.
Why should you care about your venue’s map rank?
Our research shows venues with an influential map rank receive 30% more organic traffic than those without.
This blog explains the importance of map search in venue SEO and how you can improve map ranks for your venue.
Before writing this blog about SEO for events venues we checked the websites that already ranked for the keyword and most of the advice available was hands on, like sort out your robots.txt and build backlinks.
Now there’s nothing wrong with that kind of advice, not so long ago we wrote a blog about SEO for wedding venues and that covered hands on tactics too but a few people came to us and explained they knew, and had used, some common tactics, including the ones we shared, but their ranks and visitor numbers hadn’t inceased.
What they really wanted to know is: What SEO should look like for a venue and how can a venue get search visibility when most of the top ranks belong to venue search websites and directories?
The question is ‘what strategy should a venue use for SEO?’ – that’s what this blog is going to answer.
We’re Patch Marketing, a UK based events industry (and venue) specialist marketing agency. We work with venues all over the UK and Europe and we provide digital advertising, search engine marketing, social media, and SEO.
We provide SEO packages for venues, but we don’t want to spoil our intro by talking about ourselves so if you’re interested, you’ll find more information below. Now, let’s talk about SEO for venues.
How should a venue do SEO?
Search engines are divided into verticals (all, map, images, shopping, news, flights, hotels and so on). There isn’t a venue vertical but there are lots of vertical search engines that specialise in venues. You probably have your venue listed on several and just consider them directories or online agencies but as far as a search engine is concerned, they are vertical search engines that specialise in the venue vertical.
A search engine’s mission is to solve the users query in as few clicks as possible. If a user is searching for something like ‘events venue’ there are thousands of potentially suitable options so to save the user visiting a thousand websites a search engine recommends a vertical search engine that provides lots of options to that query, in one place.
You’ve probably noticed that when you search for something containing ‘venue’ the results on the first page (all vertical) are directory websites specialising in venues (also known as a venue vertical search engine).
Except for Ads, answers to “people also ask” questions and the first three map results, a venue will struggle to rank in the “all rankings” (main results page) above venue search websites. Users rarely scroll past the venue search websites, it means the potential to get influential positions in the “all rankings” is limited for a venue.
There are several things you can do to make the most of the all rankings though.
- Be present on all the vertical search engines that occupy top ranks for your target keywords
- Make the most of your profile on the venue search websites
- Get a top three map result for venue searches that contain your location
- Get rankings in the answers to “people also ask” questions
The organic search visibility available for venues on the first page of results is limited but there are other ways venues can increase enquiries with SEO. Improving keyword rankings on the map results page is one the most effective.
Location matters for events so it shouldn’t surprise you that Google Maps has become a popular search tool for event organisers when they’re searching for a venue to host an event.
To rank on the map, you need a physical location in the area the searcher is searching, and you need to offer the service they are searching for. It means the top ranks on Google Maps frequently go to venues and best of all, the top three map ranks appear at the top of all vertical (above venue directories).
If you’re doing SEO for your venue and not taking your organic map ranks seriously, now is the time to start.
How to improve venue map rankings
To improve map rankings (also known as local SEO) you need to generate quality local SEO signals. For example, backlinks from local websites, business citations, reviews from local people and features in the local press.
Make it clear on your site (and to to search engines) that you serve the local community, don’t just list your address and embed a map. Talk about the local community and the things your organisation does in the area.
When search engines crawl the internet to collect data and decide which order to rank websites for a given keyword, they also look at a brand’s social media channels. If you want to improve your local (map) rankings it helps if the content you publish on social media has a local angle, talks about local matters, and that your accounts follow (and are followed by) are local people and other local businesses.
To improve map results it’s essential to optimise your Google My Business. We recommend using every available feature that applies to your brand (products, services, Q&A, reviews, images, videos, posts).
The information displayed for brands in map results is the information from their Google My Business (GMB) profile. Getting the rank is one thing, once you have search visibility, performance will be better if the viewers are able to get all the information they need to determine if your venue can host their event.
Citations have a significant impact on map results. A citation is an entry in a business directory, well-known citation websites are Yell or Thomson Local. Before search engines existed, they were the way people found local services and now, because of their impact on map ranks, they continue to be as important as ever for businesses that have a fixed location or offer services in a defined location.
How to get a top map result for your venue
A search engine will rank a site above another because it believes it is most likely to answer the query of a user. It determines which sites to rank for a given keyword based on a range of factors known as SEO ranking signals. An SEO professionals’ job is to manage and create those signals so search engines believe the site they’re working on is the best one to answer a particular search query.
The best way to determine what signals search engines want top ranking sites to have for a particular keyword is to research the sites that currently occupy the top ranks for a target keyword. If you’re new to SEO, some advice from a professional is essential to ensure the things you’re doing are having a positive impact on your map rankings.