Nov 11, 2022 | 8 min read
SEO is a frequently used term; even so - it is not always understood and is somewhat ambiguous. Often, event planners hire an SEO expert just because they believe it's "important" without knowing what to ask for and what to expect.
This blog aims to give conference organizers a basic understanding of SEO. Understanding SEO can help you decide whether to invest in hiring an SEO expert or optimize the event website yourself. In addition, it will enable you to describe the SEO needs clearly, optimize your event marketing budget, and benefit from the SEO experts you work with.
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, a process that aims to increase unpaid traffic and the quality of unpaid traffic from search engines to a website.
Search engines are the number one source of traffic for websites. For example, it is estimated that 9 billion searches are done every day using Google and Google is the most visited website in the world.
Appearing in Google results when potential attendees use Google can have a dramatic positive effect on the event. Since almost every event has a website ranking high on Google and other search engines may require attention and effort. This is what SEO is about.
Like Tomato and Tomahto, SEO and Organic SEO are the same. However, "Organic SEO" underlines that the SEO efforts do not include paying the search engine for exposure (i.e., Organic SEO does not involve buying ads and PPC - pay-per-click).
Search engines aim to provide users with the best possible experience. From a search engine's point of view, this means presenting the users with the most appropriate page for their search.
Search engines want satisfied users, so they constantly look for improved ways to display results that will satisfy their customers/users. The customer/user wants a list of the most relevant, quality websites with the information they searched for. This is similar to navigation apps that seek to show users the best way to reach a destination without traffic jams - just like a search engine. In both cases, search engines and map apps are exposed to "bad" users who try to manipulate the results, and the apps/search engines try to cancel the influence of those "bad" users.
To rank websites, search engines give each web page a match score to the phrase the user searched. The search engine results (SERP) show the webpages and websites in order, starting with the highest score.
Search engines do not publish the exact parameters or algorithms they use to calculate the score and frequently change them. However, the basic algorithm and parameters are known, and most changes have little effect on quality websites.
What can a website builder or event planner do to promote their website? The goal is to convince the search engine to include pages from the event's website in search results as much as possible, specifically in queries made by potential event attendees.
A search engine is most convinced if it estimates the users (the search engine's customers) will be satisfied with the result page containing the event website.
SEO professionals divide the work into two parts.
The first is commonly referred to as "On-Site SEO" or "On-Page SEO." It is where work is done on the conference website itself.
The second is commonly referred to as "Off-Site SEO" or "Off-Page SEO." It means organic website promotion activity outside the website ("Off-Site"); any work done outside the site (for example, on other websites). This part of the SEO work does not require website content or infrastructure access.
On-site SEO includes work on the site itself - content and infrastructure - so search engines will see it as a good site to have high up in its results. Therefore, the website will gain more relevant visitors from search engines.
The score search engines give to a website and page depends on technical parameters and tests carried out by the search engine.
Some features event website features organizers may see as cool are actually annoying and drive potential attendees away.Avoid things include:
Security and use of https have been a confirmed Google ranking factor since 2014.
In addition, Search engines scan websites in their index continuously; if a security threat is detected, the search engine may add the website to a blacklist, refrain from including the website in the search results or warn users before accessing it.
Check a website on Google here: Safe Browsing site status
Brand reputation and awareness are indicators of website significance and factors impacting a website's search ranking.
Search engines measure brand awareness and reputation by tracking singles such as:
Search engines inspect web pages in-depth. In addition to scanning the visible text, search engines check for small pieces of data embedded in the page that are invisible to users and the code that makes the page.
Browsers are very resilient to HTML errors; search engines see, count, and evaluate the impact of those errors. As a result, improper or erroneous use of web technology in a webpage can make a difference and damage the webpage's ranking.
One way to check for HTML code compliance with standards is to use the W3C HTML checker.
The second family of parameters that affects the page score is the content. In an effort to please users who click on the search result and visit the page, search engines evaluate the quality of the content on the page. The algorithms used to differentiate and score content are constantly improving. So, the best practice is producing high-quality content that will add value to users who read it, ensuring search engine bots also see the content as premium.
Search engines developed algorithms to detect gibberish to fight spammers who generate articles with meaningless text containing relevant keywords. As a result, pages with a high gibberish score are flagged or disregarded by search engines.
For this purpose, Google filed a patent on gibberish detection in 2008.
Microsoft Bing is also detecting and removing pages with high gibberish and spam score. According to this blog post by Bing Index Quality, Principal Development Manager Bing has removed from its index over 5M pages due to a high spam score.
Off-Site SEO, or off-page SEO, refers to any work done off the website to promote it in search engine result pages.
A known method search engines use to estimate the importance of a webpage is checking inbound links, also known as backlinks. They are links the search engine has found on other websites to the event website. Backlinks are like a vote of trust by websites. A link from a relevant and high-reputable website can boost the event website's score and rank.
Another indication for a helpful website is social media. When people post about a website and share the page's URL, it signals search engines that the page is interesting and relevant to the issue discussed in the post.
A few years back, creating external links was considered a critical SEO activity because it was a search engine's number one ranking factor. A market for selling links developed, and websites that sold links became popular; consequently, search engines improved their algorithms in detecting and punishing websites for buying links.
It is significant for a website to have backlinks from a highly reputable external site.
Hiring an SEO expert can help you gain more traffic for an event website. Developing relevant, engaging content and publishing it on the event website can increase this traffic from search engines. SEO techniques can ensure and increase the return on the investment in content. Practicing basic SEO skills can provide search engines with the necessary index and include the event website in relevant search results pages.