In ContentSEO

Administering events is an ongoing and slightly arduous task for all of our DMO clients, but the importance of this type of tourism product cannot be ignored.
 
A look at the analytics across our destination sites show that over 30% of page views are generated by event content, made up of both the main what’s on editorial pages and a long tail of event listings fed from the DMS (Destination Management System) database.
 
Stands to reason right? As well as outside visitors to the destination, many local people will also use their destination site to find out what’s happening in their particular area.
 
So, it’s extremely important that a destination’s events listings are properly maintained, and a strategy exists to ensure that the regular, annual events continue to perform well as far as SEO rankings are concerned.
 
We find that there is a massive temptation to remove annually repeated events once they have ended. Why, for instance, is there any point in having a ‘Christmas Market’ event showing on the site in Summer, or a November 5th firework event showing in August?
 
A look at the analytics for these pages provides a probably unexpected answer. Yes, people do start searching for Christmas markets in August! The key point to consider is that new event listings will take time to be indexed and rise within search rankings, so if a Christmas event is added in October, the chances are it won’t begin to rank well until November, by which time you will have missed out on a lot of traffic over the preceding months.
 
By way of a great example, the team at Visit Bristol has been very proactive in updating their key events early this year. In 2016 the ‘Christmas Market’ event was added to the site in mid October, whereas in 2017 it was done at the beginning of August. The 2017 event started to attract visits by the middle of August, and has grown steadily since. Page views to the end of October for this one event are already up by over 5000 on last year, and are consistently attracting a couple of hundred views per day.
 

Bristol’s Balloon Fiesta is a massively successful and long-running annual event that takes place every August. The strategy for the event listing this year was to update the event for 2018, immediately after the 2017 event had passed. This has already brought dividends, gaining 1300 page views in the period from mid August to end of October, with a consistent amount of daily traffic.
 
It’s worth noting that the inclusion of a year or date in the event title can cause issues, particularly if it is simply changed on the same event record each year. Changing the title of any DMS product from ‘Product Name 2017’ to ‘Product Name 2018’ will mean that Google ‘loses’ the original information and therefore won’t immediately recognise the newly updated product. So, best to keep the event title generic and not year specific.
 
Here are some general techniques regarding event dates and opening times:

  • If you know next year’s date, put it in ASAP.
  • If you don’t know next year’s date, then leave the product record as active anyway – i.e. don’t archive it. Whilst it won’t show up in “what’s on” searches on the site, it will still remain indexed by Google. 
  • If it is the same date every year – e.g. 5th November – then use the “reoccur” option next to the opening time.

So, the key message is plan your events well in advance, get them on the site as early as possible, and if they can be updated for the following year rather than being deleted, then that will bring significant dividends.

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