We’re frequently asked this question by venues that are trying to determine how much they should focus on search marketing compared to content marketing. Even though both methods acquire traffic through paid and unpaid positions, there is a difference between search marketing and content marketing.
For venues, there is an additional difference because of what’s achievable with content marketing in search, and not achievable with search marketing because of the way the google algorithm treats some industries, including venues.
Before we explain how venues should approach search and content marketing, we’ll explain the difference.
What is Search Marketing?
Search marketing is increasing a brand’s search visibility and website traffic by occupying paid and organic search positions that apply to its products or services. The search positions (or keywords a venue is targeting) should offer qualification that the searcher could be interested in the types of events the venue hosts, and potentially using the venue. People sometimes think of search marketing as strictly SEO, PPC and generally related to search engines, but it’s not.
Search takes place all over the web. A venue search can take place on vertical search engines (also known as venue directory websites), so optimising for search on those is a good idea. In addition, there is a growing trend towards people searching social media. There are tools available that outline search volumes on social networks, YouTube, and search engines – it’s quite easy to find out where a venue’s marketing is searching and what they’re searching for. In addition, community search (word of mouth) has been enhanced, there are so many online communities and networks, word of mouth now provides more opportunities than being referred to when someone asks (although that still is the end goal).
Search marketing is evolving in a way that people are using various networks, in addition to search engines, to search for products and services and information to decide who to work with. Modern search marketing is being found by prospective clients as they seek a venue like yours, wherever they are searching.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is providing content a brand’s target market would be interested in that demonstrates the brand’s passion or expertise. Content can acquire website visitors and increases search visibility (if people are searching for that content) but it achieves other objectives.
It can be used to engage, educate, and compel action. Content should be produced so that the topic qualifies the reader as potentially interested in your venue. For example, if you have a large outdoor event area you could produce content that provides advice on permits and risk assessments for outdoor events – that would be very useful for your target market, and probably capture the attention of some people that organise outdoor events and haven’t used your venue before. They may not be ready to enquire yet, but they may care about the things you’re saying that relate to their job and that could be the first introduction that leads to them hosting an event at your venue in the future.
Content should be designed for different stages of your venue’s customer journey to educate readers at the stage they’re at and move them along to the next desired action. That could be simply remembering your venue’s name, location, and capacity, referring you to a friend or making an enquiry.
As well as essential for social media, guest blogging and other content-led activity, content can also be used on advertising positions instead sales messages. As content usually offers some information that is valuable to your market, it can get a higher number of clicks than sales advertising and it could be useful for engaging people at different stages of the customer journey.
Search marketing for venues
Most search engines are divided into different verticals known as “all results”, map results, image results, video, shopping and so on. They allocate certain verticals to certain types of websites, products or services and this matters for venues. In venue search, search engines prefer to give top ranks to venue vertical search engines (also known as venue search websites). By understanding this reality, venues have an opportunity – above the list of websites on the first page of results are the map results.
It’s not just certain types of websites users and search engines prefer; they also prefer certain search verticals. In venue search location matters so the map results (map search vertical) have become an important tool in a venue finder’s toolbox. The good news for venues is on maps, venues that are physically in the location the searcher is searching for will outperform venue search websites that are usually not in that location.
Here’s a tip, if the map results show in a venue search, and they will show for most searches with a location included, the top three map results rank above all other results except for paid ads. That means if your venue gets in the top three map results, you will rank above every venue search website and online agency that exists. Considering the cost of commission and joining some of those websites, it creates a good justification for hiring an SEO agency like us to get you there.
You might be asking yourself why search engines do this. Are they trying to make life difficult for venues? Let’s use Google as an example, like all search engines Google’s goal is to solve a user’s search query in as few clicks as possible. With that goal in mind, it makes sense that somebody searching for a venue (and there are hundreds of venues to choose from – so a lot of clicks) should be served a vertical search engine that specialises in that niche and will be more useful for the user to search and filter using industry-specific criteria.
That’s why the “all results” are always going to be dominated by vertical search engines but if the searcher cares about location, they could end up searching on Google maps. Don’t forget a venue is an image-led purchase, and an event is a visual experience, so searches also take place on the image and video verticals.
A venue should focus its search marketing on optimising profiles on vertical search engines, optimising on and off page SEO to achieve the best ranks in the map, image & video results and optimising for search on social media. In addition, a venue should be mindful and do its best to maintain a positive brand image in user-generated content that will be found in search (such as reviews).
Content marketing for venues
The main difference for venues with content is search engine algorithms don’t favour one type of site over another when allocating ranks for content. If the content is good and has authority on the topic, it doesn’t matter where it’s published, it has a chance of ranking. It creates a level playing field for venues and venue search websites.
Using content as part of search marketing provides a cost-effective way to acquire visitors to a brand site consistently. Once the initial investment is made for a piece of content, it tends to bring traffic on a regular basis and only requires updates from time to time to keep it fresh and maintain its rank and impact.
Venues can combine content with other marketing activity for maximum impact. Often social media comes to mind, but it can be used strategically across different channels. For some of our clients, we plan content at various stages of their customer journeys and the topic of the content qualifies the reader as potentially suitable to host an event in the venue we’re working with.
The content we produce acquires visitors every month and every time somebody visits that page, they enter a retargeting audience, and we know the types of things they’re interested in because of the content they consumed.
We use that retargeting position to serve advertising that matches their interests and uses what they know about the venue and builds upon it. Our objective is to take that first interaction with the brand’s content and build upon it through advertising. It provides a very qualified advertising audience that we know has already visited the brand’s site and engaged with some content. It’s a fantastic way to introduce people early in the customer journey and educate them about a venue.
Exercise for Venue Marketing
- Outline the keywords that your market uses to find your venue
- Optimise your venue for those keywords on venue directories, Google map results, image results and video results
- Use your expertise to develop content topics that your market should be interested in and relates to the types of events your venue hosts
- Outline objectives for each content topic, such as acquiring visitors through search, encouraging clicks on advertising, educating readers on our proposition, or compelling readers to act
- Produce content and keep optimising for search to maintain search visibility
If you wish your search and content marketing could take care of itself, we can make your wish come true. We provide full search marketing campaigns covering all aspects of search including SEO, social search, paid search, and search advertising. We provide end to end content marketing solutions covering everything from strategy and topic creation, production and post publication analysis and retargeting. We also produce content for guest submissions in event industry media and websites.