Intro to SERP for artists using Moz

Using online tools to compare sites

In the earlier tutorials, you got a little more insight into how many visitors find your site. You’ve got a better idea of the keyword phrases that match your site’s profile.

Now let’s look at SERP or the Search Engine Results Page. This is the crucial first page of search engine results. At the top will be paid advertising followed by organic search results.

How does your page rank compared to others on the extremely important first page of results in your geographic area?

For me, this insight was the first step in using SEO as an artist. Marketers often talk about understanding your audience.

Google search results for digital stories

Who is the audience for community digital storytelling? Who is the audience in your own discipline as an artist or arts organization?

Many SEO tutorials suggest learning what works for your “competition.” Artists and arts organizations rely on collaboration too and so, that language is problematic for us.

I can learn which search terms, queries or keywords are working well for my colleagues. How can we increase the visibility of our discipline so that we all become more visible together? 

Comparisons can give you insights into your own search engine ranking, especially if you’re thinking about content marketing. Content marketing is about matching your services, products or ideas with an audience with similar values. As a result, rather than strictly tracking keywords like an online business does, I am trying to anticipate how someone looking for a community digital storytelling workshop might construct a phrase to find it. Since our site contains essays about community digital storytelling, videos created during workshops, tutorials to support artists in the workshops, and calls to participate in those workshops, the site is clearly connected to “digital storytelling” and “digital storytelling workshops.”

SEO Reports from Moz

To create this lesson in 2020, I enrolled in a free month-long trial with Moz. (This choice was based on convenience and is not intended to promote any third party applications.) They simply had a free trial and I used that to make comparisons. (Don’t forget to cancel before the free month ends, if that’s your intention).

I also used Ubersuggest, an SEO tool from Neil Patel. I have followed Neil Patel’s tutorials for many years, as they provide a good introduction to SEO. Ubersuggest insights are presented in the next tutorial.

Several arts groups with websites were part of our original Community Digital Storytelling Initiative in 2019/20. Lisa g. Nielsen runs the Our World Language site, structured around blog posts. Their site features digital stories from community workshops in Northern and Indigenous communities. Deblekha Guin runs the Access to Media (AMES) site, featuring community digital stories created during their workshops on Galiano Island. They also focus on educational initiatives based on youth sharing with their peers.

For a comparison with these Canadian sites, I’ve selected the California-based Story Center, an international leader in community digital storytelling workshops.

Report from Moz shows search engine visiblity
Search engine visibility from Moz comparing 4 sites

The Moz dashboard gives a comparison based on search engine visibility. In this 2020 example, Digital Stories Canada is compared with AMES, Story Center and Our World Language. Search engine visibility is based on a combination of factors, including keywords, expert knowledge in specific topics and incoming links. In this case, Story Center is much more visible as it is a larger organization with extensive incoming links.

Another factor is that the Moz report shows ranking for search engines in the USA, not Canada where the other 3 sites are located. When I made a similar comparison two years later, I was able to select results from Canadian Google searches.

Moz report compares domain authority between 4 sites
Moz comparison of 4 sites for domain authority and top 10 keyword ranking

You can set up this comparison using the Campaigns tab in the left side menu. In terms of Domain Authority, the Moz rankings for AMES, Our World Language and Digital Stories Canada are 22, 16 and 18. Story Center is ranked 50. Organizations like Wikipedia or Amazon are ranked in the high 90s.

Moz also provides metrics for export in .cvs files – monthly comparisons for the 4 sites, tracked over the last six months. This is helpful to show if your site is gaining (or losing) online authority. For me, what’s interesting is that the tutorial I created on cleaning up old photos in Photoshop continues to rank well, even on USA sites. The tutorial got a #7 and #9 rank in mid-December 2020. What this tells me is that if I only have time to update one tutorial, this would be a good place to start.

Moz site analysis September 2022

In retrospect, the information about my own site is what I found most useful in the Moz report. From the September 2022 report, I learned that Digital Stories Canada is ranked #2 in Canada behind StoryCenter for the search terms “digital stories” and “digital storytelling workshops.” Considering that ours is a small group using almost no social media and having 667 incoming links compared to their sixty-three thousand, we are ranking well. 

Moz ranks page according to top keywords in Canada (September 2022)
Moz ranks page according to top keywords in Canada (September 2022)

Another useful function – ask Moz to crawl your site and find any errors like broken links. In the example below, I can immediately see what’s not working and will revise those links today. No need to perform manual searches for broken links ever again! 

Moz report showing Critical Crawler Issues in September 2022 report

Try something new. Moz has free tools, as do many other SEO marketing tools. Using the ideas I’ve shared here, learn what you can about traffic to your site. And to sites that are similar to yours. Don’t be discouraged – it takes a little while to learn how to use the tools.

Try not to sign up for additional services unless you need or can afford them. 

These online tools are useful to track the impact of your marketing efforts as an artist or arts organization. Next let’s look at Ubersuggest to dig deeper into keyword phrases. 

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts

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