Technology Institute for Music Educators
Helping Music Teachers Integrate Technology Since 1995
TI:ME is a 501-c3 Non-Profit Educational Organization

marchingbandThis two part series is designed to give school bands an advantage by incorporating better Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for their websites. While private schools or universities may benefit the most from these ideas, any school band that wants to grow and recruit more top-notch players will benefit from this series. The implementation of effective SEO will also help drive audience attendance at concerts, and boost fundraising efforts. Part one of the series will cover the importance of good SEO, includes some search friendly website design tips, and a guide to keyword choice. Part two includes some tips for better keyword placement, and some useful link building strategies.

4 Reasons School Bands Should Invest in SEO

  1. Parents and youth trust the web as an immediate and relevant resource. Most people look to the web when seeking out any form of information. It's important that students looking for a school with a great band are able to find your website, and realize the quality of your program.
  2. Parents have more options for sending their children to school than ever before, they expect more, and are harder to convince.
  3. Any school band is strapped for resources and must distribute limited funds where they can make the most impact. Search engine optimization is the most efficient and effective way to attract new players for your band.
  4. Effective SEO can provide small school bands with a significant advantage over larger schools with more funding for their band by capturing prospective band members first.

Search Engine Optimization is the practice of designing a website to include popular keywords and strategic linking structure in order to rank highly among search engines and drive traffic to a site. There is no point in having a great web page if no one is able to find it. The main components of SEO include, search friendly web site design, keyword selection and placement, and link building.

Website Design

The design of your band's site is a critical factor for making it search friendly. The challenge is striking a balance between effective promotion of your band, and successful search engine optimization.

  1. Create Good Content
    Having great content within your website is critical to your SEO efforts. The more valuable and informative you website is, the more traffic and inbound links your band's website will attract. This will make your site appear more useful your site appears to search engines, and improve your rankings. Content creation is covered extensively in part 2 of this series. For now, it's just significant to realize its importance.
  2. Limit Rich Media Content
    Rich content is attractive to visitors but should be implemented with caution. If it does not help promote your band, leave it out. It is often difficult for search engines to crawl frames and java content. This makes it much more difficult to achieve a high ranking among search engines. It is also useful to note that those with low bandwidth internet connections will become frustrated while waiting for pages to load. The tradeoff is inevitably up to you. Search engine algorithms are becoming better at identifying information embedded in flash and java content. It is also true that much of this content can be optimized for search with a little extra effort. For more information on optimizing rich media content, visit www.seonews.com. As a larger percentage of the population obtain high speed internet connections, long load times will eventually become a non-issue. As a general rule, with the pace technology is moving at, it would be wise to begin to incorporate some of these elements rather than not.
  3. Use Sitemaps
    Your school's website should be designed around a site map. Each page on your site should have a link back to the site map, as well as the homepage. If your school's website does not have a sitemap, encourage them to incorporate one. Site maps make it much easier for search engines to find all pages on your site and index them regularly. The SEO efforts you place toward the band page may never be realized if search engines never index your page.
  4. Facilitate Viral Marketing
    Your site should also be optimized for viral marketing opportunities. It will not increase your website's ranking, but it will help drive traffic and create buzz for your band. Adding a bookmark or "add to favorites" feature to the homepage is easy to do and will increase the change that a past visitor will re-visit. Additionally, an "email this site to a friend" link should be placed at the bottom and top of each information rich page. The icon should boast the universal "email this" icon, the back of an envelope.

Keywords

Keywords tell what your site is about. With this in mind, search engines search for the most relevant sites under any given keyword. So, you must optimize your site to rank highly for the right keywords. This is where your schools band might be able to gain an advantage over other school's bands, through good keyword selection and placement. The keywords you choose to optimize should be keywords that students and parents use most often when searching for a school with a great band.

3 Tips for Choosing the Right Keywords

  1. Find keywords that are used frequently by people searching for information on school band programs, but are not included in competing school's band sites, and optimize your site for some of those keywords. Many band pages are optimized for very general terms such as "(Schools Name) Band." While similar terms may describe navigation within that certain site very well, parents are more likely to type in a keyword such as "musical opportunities for youth," and students may search for "awesome high school band."
  2. Find the most popular common keywords that most schools use and optimize your site for those keywords better then they can. This is equally as important as the above technique, but will prove to be more of a challenge.
  3. Incorporate some variations of a few of your common keywords. These might include misspellings, plurals, synonyms, and local place names or idioms. Deciding on the right keywords to optimize is probably the most challenging, but also highly rewarding (traffic wise) SEO activity you can engage in. Luckily there are some tools and techniques that can help you accomplish this.

5 Keyword Tools and Techniques

  1. Word Tracker (www.wordtracker.com) is an online tool that tells exactly how many people are searching for any given keyword each month.
  2. www.nichebot.com offers a number of keyword tools including a keyword list cleaner.
  3. Yahoo and Google both offer keyword tools.
  4. Determine what sites use your selected keywords in their title by searching intitle: "keyword." Then find what sites use your keyword within their body text by searching intext: "keyword."
  5. Review your website referral logs for commonly used keywords.

After building a decent list, incorporate some of the keywords into your band's website using the tips outlined below, and then monitor results. Keyword selection is an ongoing process and requires significant trial and error. There is always something you can change that will help yield a better ranking.

 

Trebesch

by Lance Trebesch and Colt Lapham

Lance Trebesch (lance@TicketPrinting.com)

Thank you for reading part one of "How to Optimize Your School Band's Website to Recruit Top Players." For valuable information on keyword placement and link building strategies, read part two.


TicketPrinting.com is the leader in affordable online ticket printing for small-to-medium size organizations, companies, venues, non-profits, schools, associations, and clubs. Over the past 10 years, TicketPrinting.com has designed and printed millions of tickets for thousands of events, fundraisers, performances, concerts, plays, sporting events, raffles, parties and more.

Lance Trebesch, CEO of TicketPrinting.com, has a successful 18 year track record of technology and early-stage experience.

Colt Lapham, Education Segment Manager of TicketPrinting.com, is a marketing graduate from Montana State University, a former music major, and working musician in the Bozeman MT area.

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