How does SEO increase organic traffic to my website?

Practical tips for best practice SEO performance starts with understanding where and how this fits into your overall digital strategy. Pictured in the diagram below, there are three Pillars of Organic Search + Content as the sweet spot linking the three together. All need to be taken into consideration in order to formulate an organic search strategy and get more digital visitors to your website – as well as physical visitors to your venue.

The Sweet Spot equals compelling content that answers the searcher’s question

Everything you put on your website is relevant to your audience. In museum marketing terms, this is generally done in segmentation or audience development, and as mentioned in the Introduction this should reflect characteristics and needs for both the digital and physical visitor. This will give you information on the type of person or groups you are trying to engage and what matters most to them. Gain more insight about customer segmentation from Visit Britain’s helpful research. Overall, this work should include your digital visitor wanting to access information from your archive or collection, as well as your physical visitor who may be looking for information when planning a visit at a specific time.

  • Map these profiles or personas to their visitor journey with your museum, so that you can identify the type of content your visitors are going to be most interested in throughout their experience with your museum or organisation both in person and online. 
  • Make sure you have a Call to Action – you don’t want people to visit and leave. You want people to sign up to your mailing list, book tickets, or subscribe to your newsletter. Make sure this is available in various conversion buttons.
  • Don’t forget practical information such as opening times, amenities, location maps, contact numbers. A high number of searches specifically look for key information like this. 
  • Research what your customers want to read and the types of keywords that will help you get the most traffic.
  • Keywords are at the forefront of how people search but still remember user intent. It’s important to keep researching keywords and popularity. With this in mind, it’s recommended that you pay attention to keywords on a thematic basis directly relevant to your organisation and your social purpose. Avoid copies, try to make your website personalised, unique and helpful to your website visitor. 
  • Provide relevant media, using images or videos to link pages across your website. 
  • Create high-value content to inform and engage the reader. Keep it fresh and updated.
  • Build a strong web presence so any new visitor has ample opportunity to get to know you better, such as following accounts on the major social media platforms, landing pages that offer webinars or pdf’s, articles and mailing lists that will keep them updated on all the resources and experiences on offer.

Recap: compelling content  

Content is not just about pleasing the algorithms, but about pleasing your visitors so they remain on your webpages long enough for you to build an immediate and future relationship. 

It’s important to keep tuned in to what is actually trending by incorporating the best keywords to represent your cultural sector and location throughout your website. This includes the latest keywords that are both popular, consistent and relevant to your museum, museum shop, exhibitions, education programme, news, etc.

Here are some free tools that can help with keyword building: 

  • Wordstream is a free tool to see what keywords are associated with your URL. 
  • Answer The Public is a keyword tool that visualizes search questions and suggests autocomplete searches in an image called a search cloud. These tools can help with writing content or blog article ideas by collecting and categorising phrases people use in searching online. You have a limit of three times per day on the free version.

On-Page Optimisation

On-page optimisation is the technique to make sure your web page will rank highly on search engines. This includes many technical aspects of the website: the loading time, mobile friendliness, title tags, structure, meta description, sign-up forms, etc but basically we are talking about presenting a well-optimised web page. This doesn’t mean your website has to have lots of information in order to get more visitors, but that what is on your website is well thought out and reflects your target audiences. That’s good news for museums as trusted content creators. Arguably the most important aspect of content optimisation in SEO terms is metadata, such as titles and headers, as this is the first thing searchers see prior to visiting your site. 

What does a well optimised web page look like and why?

 The Royal Museums Greenwich site is a good example of a well optimised website.

  1. Title tags, meta description and headers are consistent across all four museums.
  2. Title tags include the main key words at the front. 
  3. Image tags have been applied and labelled so they are searchable and appear in search results. 
  4. Page copy and content includes secondary key words that are thematically relevant. 
  5. Local Search delivers the key information visitors are increasingly looking for in local listings. Essential information is clearly available on the main RMG  landing page and appears in the search results as well.
  6. All four museums are hosted under a main title with clear, consistent calls to action across all web pages nicely linking back to headers. 
  7. Different meta-descriptions meet a variety of search related queries and encourage users to click through to the website or direct to book tickets.
  8. Calls to action and conversion banners are presented without frustrating the visitor experience, avoiding pop-ups that cover content preventing visitors from getting a glimpse of what the museum is all about.  
  9. The site is adaptive to any device – smartphone, tablet or desktop

Are you interested in reading more about On-page Optimisation? Then follow some additional resources, blogs and tips from the Digital Marketing Institute here.

What about Google Ads?

So why worry about SEO at all when you can pay for an advertisement? Budget permitting, it’s well worth putting aside some budget for a Google Ad. The visibility of a Google Ad equals immediate results: someone already has the idea to visit a museum in your area on your subject. They click the button to make this search and up pops your museum at the top of the search results. They can’t help but see your ad, including call to actions, opening times and location. 

Budget may not be an issue as Google offers grants for nonprofits and can help you achieve this visibility for free. 

To qualify for Google Ad Grants, it’s necessary to complete the following steps helpfully set out in this report from MuseumsNext: https://www.museumnext.com/article/how-can-museums-get-google-ad-grants/

More here: https://www.google.co.uk/grants/

Recap on-page optimisation

SEO can help you rank higher in search results and drive more visitors to your website, but ranking and traffic are a means to an end. There is little use in ranking if no-one is actually clicking through to your website. Before embarking on SEO, make sure you’ve laid out your business goals (KPI’s) and your website’s critical success factors then use SEO to accomplish them – not the other way around.