Intro from Steve: After my first guest post publication, Mike – who I’ve known on Twitter for a while – asked if he could publish one as well. Given its subject matter, I couldn’t say no. I used to work at a live music bar a lifetime ago (The Musician Pub in Leicester, if you’re ever in the area), so this post struck a chord (oww, sorry!) with me. Enjoy!
Following the Live Music Act 2012 (which allowed venues with a capacity of less than 200 people to put on live music without a license*), it seems a growing number of bars are taking advantage and starting to book live bands. With the growing number of options for live music lovers, how do you stand out and persuade potential punters through your door?
The following tips will help you to stand out against your local competition and dominate the online arena.
Get a Google Places Listing
For any local business, a Google Places for Business listing is essential – not only will your business show up in Google Maps enabling people to easily get directions to your premises, but it will also provide searchers with an ‘at-a-glance’ overview of your address, contact details and opening hours direct from the search results page.
In addition, a Google Places page will give your live music bar more visibility in search for non-brand queries. A search for “Live Music Colchester” will (in addition to standard website listings) present you with a list of relevant Google Places pages, along with a map of the area indicating where each of these businesses are located.
Since Google released their ‘Venice’ update in April 2012, local intent can be detected even without the place name in the search query – instead Google uses your automatically-detected browser location to determine where you are based, and uses that to shoehorn in Google Places pages that are local to you:
Get Listed in Local Directories
Let’s be honest… No one is going to open up their Yellow Pages or even visit Yell.com or Hotfrog to search for a live music bar in their local area – realistically they will turn to Google or social media. So why go to the trouble of getting yourself listed in local online directories?
There are 2 main benefits to having your business listed, both of which affect your non-brand search visibility (people searching for anything other than your business name):
- Citations: One of the ways in which Google ranks the Places pages that it displays in its search results is citations – the mention of your business elsewhere online, with your address, phone number and website listed in the same format as it is displayed on your Google Places page. By having your business listed in local directories, you are increasing the number of citations your business has on the web, which will improve your ranking when someone searches for “live music” for example.
- Reviews: Many local directories will allow users to comment on or review the businesses that are listed – Google recognises these reviews and associates them with your Google Places page:If your business attracts a lot of positive reviews and comments, Google will use those as an indication that your business is reputable and offers a high standard of customer service, and will therefore give your Places page more prominence in search results.
Keep Your Events Pages Up to Date (and use rich snippets)
There’s nothing more frustrating when planning your evening out than when you go online to find out what’s happening locally and the events pages are difficult to find, difficult to navigate or even worse, out of date! Ideally, you should display your next week’s upcoming events on your homepage, and have a link through to an events page which lists all your upcoming acts/DJ’s/themed nights etc. If your visitors can’t rely on your website to give them the most up to date events information, you run the risk of them going elsewhere and never coming back.
Rich Snippets are essentially a piece of code that you can incorporate into your events page which will enable your upcoming events to be visible direct from the search results pages:
There are various plugins for most CMS’s that will automate this process for you, but since this is a little more technical it’s worth talking to your web developers and asking them to implement rich snippets for you.
Use Facebook AND Twitter
A Facebook page is another necessity when it comes to any local business looking to attract the public. With over half the population of the UK having a Facebook account (and around 75% of those aged between 18 and 54*), you have huge potential to get your events, photos, promotions etc seen and even promoted by influential, local people. Your Facebook Timeline also offers a platform for you to communicate with your customers directly, giving your business the personal touch that most people expect nowadays.
Twitter is another essential social platform – get yourself a Twitter account and start following people in your local area. One of the great things about Twitter is that you can view other people’s followers, meaning you have access to a known list of people who are actively following similar businesses to yours in your local area. You can also search tweets for those containing certain terms (like your town/city for example) which will pull up all those people who have mentioned your area in a tweet. Again, by following these people you will gradually build your own targeted Twitter following.
Once you have that following, you can promote your upcoming events, drinks offers etc to a ready-made following of local live music lovers!
By interacting with your upcoming live acts on Facebook and Twitter, you will have more visibility to their followers, which can in turn result in your following growing.
Online (only) Drinks/Entry Fee Promotions
Get people visiting your website regularly by posting online-only special drinks offers or (if you charge for entry) discounts on entry fees. These posts (which could take the form of downloadable flyers) can then be promoted via your Facebook Page and Twitter account, which will in turn help build your social following.
In the bar itself, promote the fact that your punters can get drinks offers if they visit your website – you could even take photos on Fri/Sat nights and let everyone know that if they find themselves in a photo on the website, they’re entitled to a special offer on their next visit.
Mike Hall (@MikeHallSEO) is a Senior Online Marketing Executive specialising in SEO at Coast Digital, a digital marketing agency based in Colchester, Essex. When not working, he plays guitar in an Essex-based covers band called Dog In A Side Car.