Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm, requiring publishers to adjust their search strategies to keep pace. What changes have you made lately, and what new strategies have you implemented to bring visitors to your local events calendar? If the answer is none, then keep reading for the best SEO techniques for events calendars.
One of the most significant recent changes made to Google’s search engine algorithm involves mobile-first indexing. More than half of the webpages shown in search results now are from Google indexing content using a new mobile-first indexing procedure. Rather than looking at the desktop versions of websites, Google is indexing pages based on how those pages appear to users on mobile devices.
In the past 12 months, Google has also made speed updates and the company dropped support for the news meta tag. Google also started putting more emphasis on structured data and schema, and it launched an indexing API for job posting URLs.
With all those changes happening in rapid succession, it’s no surprise publishers with local events calendars had trouble keeping up. Many wondered what all the algorithm changes meant for their websites, and which SEO techniques for events calendars would be most effective in today’s environment.
To answer those questions, we put together this guide to the best SEO techniques for events calendars, along with information about what digital publishers can do to drive traffic to their websites and engage first-time visitors.
Is Your SEO Outdated?
As a rule of thumb, publishers who notice a drop in traffic to their events calendar websites of 10% or more in a short period of time need to consider updating their SEO strategy. That’s because the best SEO techniques for events calendars are always evolving, and a strategy that was implemented a year ago may need to be updated for optimal performance.
To diagnose whether your declining traffic is due to changes in Google’s algorithm, start with the following:
Use Google Webmaster Tools to determine whether your events calendar is being crawled by Google and whether your site map is in place.
Check out Google Analytics to see the total number of page views and sessions on your events calendar. Dig deep into when your traffic started to drop and compare new traffic patterns with historical trends for your website.
A few questions to consider as you make your way through Google Analytics include:
- Is the drop in traffic happening across all events categories or only certain categories?
- Was your website down for a period of time?
- Were any updates made to your calendar before or after the drop in traffic occurred?
- Is Google tracking turned on?
- For WordPress users, have you added any new plugins recently?
WebPageTest offers a free service that publishers with events calendars can use. We recommend comparing your current performance with previous tests.
The Latest SEO Techniques for Events Calendars
In the simplest terms, search engines like Google and Bing follow links and index whatever content they find. To increase the chances of your events calendar being indexed properly, place as few hurdles in the way of search engines as possible. That means using clear URLs that have never been used for live websites before and disallowing bots using robots.txt.
Two issues that can cause problems for publishers with events calendars are listings that expire and URLs that are reused. The latest SEO techniques for events calendars call for redirecting deleted listing pages to more relevant pages using a 301 redirect. For example, rather than deleting an outdated listing for a theater production, redirect that listing URL to the landing page for the Arts & Culture category. There, visitors can see a list of all upcoming theater productions.
Using a 301 redirect tells the search engine that the expired listing has been moved, and it avoids the visitor reaching a 404 page by accident.
One of the smartest SEO techniques for events calendars is to perform a complete function check on the calendar to make sure it is working properly. We recommend digital publishers do this on a regular basis. Not only will a function check ensure that visitors are able to successfully interact with the website, but it also ensures that search engines will be able to index the website properly.
Potential trouble spots worth checking include:
- Listing submission forms
- Search functionality
- Multimedia players
- Tracking pixels
- Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools verification
Digital publishers using WordPress for their events calendar websites should check all of their plugins to make sure a “Search Engine Visibility” box hasn’t accidentally been checked. This seemingly small error can result in the events calendar being dropped entirely from Google’s index.
What other SEO techniques for events calendars have you found especially helpful, and what changes do you plan to implement in the coming year?