Last Friday, I described case study 2, my work with the Bristol European Jazz Ensemble website. My client asked me about search engine optimisation (seo) and I thought it would be worth sharing my reply. The interesting thing about this site is it uses WordPress.com and so seo is not so straightforward as it would be with WordPress.org or any other independently hosted site. Another issue is my client is trying to promote the name BEJE and not the full name of the band. This raises some issues. Here is my response to his question, as I sent it.
“Here’s my response to your question:
Of more immediate concern is, the web site itself comes low down on a Google search of ‘Bristol European Jazz Club’, marginally better with ‘BEJE jazz’ and not at all just with BEJE. How can any of these combos get in the first 3/4 places with Google?”
Read this through to the end before you act on it!
Search Engine Optimisation is a rapidly changing area and in some ways it’s a lot easier than it was. Let me summarise current search results [NB Blog readers: these results will change]:
- Bristol European Jazz Club – your YouTube video comes in at number 4, which is very good. The website comes in at 7 and your Linked-In account at 8.
- BEJE jazz – your YouTube video comes top! Linked-In at 5. Website at 8.
- BEJE – does not appear
- Bristol European Jazz Ensemble – YouTube comes first then Linked-In comes third.
A couple of observations.
- Check your Linked-In and YouTube accounts and make sure they have clear links to the website on them. Not just the link but also copy encouraging people to follow the link. Why should they go there? The description below the video on YouTube does not include your web address. If you do include it, it will be added as a special kind of link, called a nofollow link. Nofollow links are not followed by Google bots, so it won’t effect the website ranking in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). However, people can follow it and so where the video is ahead of the website on the SERP, there will be a chance they’ll find their way to the website. You need to place the link at the very start of the description: http://bigbromo.wordpress.com/ – to look just like this. The reason is that when the video is described on other pages, it usually only reproduces the first few lines of the description, so for example, the url would appear on the SERP under the video.
- In all searches but “BEJE” there are some sites mentioning the band. Check they have links to the website. If you know the site owners, ask them to add a link. Eg thebristolfringe.com features the video only. colstonhall.org has a link to the site but it is on their site as a naked url. They need to use the anchor text “Bristol European Jazz Ensemble”. Google doesn’t know what the url on its own signifies (the rules for YouTube are different and there you must use the url). You could ask them to use BEJE but I would advise not to because at present BEJE on its own is not ranking. (It appears to be Lithuanian for “the way”.)
You could visit all the sites that mention Bristol European Jazz Ensemble and check how they are referencing you. You ideally want a link to your site with anchor text that says something positive, the name of the group is fine or something like “for brilliant jazz listen to B… E…” although that might be too long. The name includes the words Bristol and Jazz which is a good foundation.
But Google “Bristol Jazz” and you don’t feature at all! Is this a target search for you?
One thing to consider is having your own domain name. I’m afraid I have to introduce the concept of “link juice”. If you have a link from a website with lots of authority, then this link will be especially juicy (I think this is what passes for American geek humour). The problem is your site is on WordPress.com, which operates a bit like Facebook. People can link to your Facebook page directly but it is part of a much bigger site. Your website is part of the bigger WordPress.com site. This means the link juice is shared with the entire WordPress.com site. You don’t get the benefit. (Your site has a domain authority of 100% and a page authority of 1%. This means all the juice goes to the WordPress domain and virtually none to your site.)The remedy is to get your own domain name.
You can do this by going into wp-admin and accessing the shop, where you’ll find you can purchase a domain name. You need to think through the domain name – it should reflect the content of the site, eg bristoleuropeanjazzensemble.org.uk – you’ll be offered a choice of endings. The fee is something like £5.99 per year. There is no limit to the length of urls and the advantage of this one is it tells Google what’s inside the site (I think you can use hyphens to separate the words if you wish). I wouldn’t use BEJE because it isn’t ranking and it doesn’t inform the search engines.
You need to decide whether you want your own domain name before you implement the other recommendations above because you don’t want to go round a second time asking them to change your url. But a change in url is a good reason to contact your current back-links.
So, in summary
- Invest in a domain name that reflects the content of the site.
- Make sure the new domain name is on YouTube and Linked-In.
- Contact sites you know have back-links to change the url and use more relevant anchor text.
- Contact other likely sites and ask them to include a link.