5. What works for similar sites?

You’ve got more insight into the traffic that’s coming to your site, either by search engine or social media. For me, this was the first step in using SEO as an artist. Marketers often talk about understanding your audience. Who is our audience for community digital storytelling? Or the audience in your own discipline as an artist or arts organization?

The next step is to learn which search terms, queries or keywords are working for my colleagues.

Many SEO tutorials suggest learning what works for your “competition.” Artists and arts organizations rely on collaboration too, and so, that language is problematic. However, comparisons can illuminate your own search engine ranking.

Using online tools to compare sites

To create this lesson, 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. 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. Those insights are presented in the next lesson.

Several arts groups with websites are part of our Community Digital Storytelling Initiative. 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 used the California-based Story Center, an international leader in community digital storytelling workshops.

SEO Reports from Moz

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

The Moz interface gives a comparison based on search engine visibility. In this 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 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.

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

In terms of Domain Authority, the Moz ranking of AMES, Our World Language and Digital Stories Canada is 22, 16 and 18. Story Center is ranked 50. Organizations like Wikipedia or Amazon are ranked in the high 90s. Moz also provided 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.

Moz report shows how keywords ranked
Moz report shows how keywords are ranking for Digital Stories Canada

With the Moz application, I was able to see how well my site was performing for specific keywords. These insights are based on results from USA search engines. Six out of seven search terms relate to the cleaning up old photos in Photoshop tutorial. One is related to the terms bunched around digital storytelling. Unfortunately, Moz does not break down these search terms but collapses them into a group. All of these terms have a monthly volume of 50 or less. This means there are not a lot of people searching for these terms.

The field of digital storytelling is small, as are the number of people who look for tutorials on cleaning up old photos. It is not usually our job as artists to think about how we are helping people to solve their problems. However, this process may help us to reach an audience interested in similar topics to ourselves.

Moz report - keyword ranking at a glance

In this last example from Moz, rankings for search terms are moving up. While the one tutorial is becoming better recognized, the search engine defaults to USA results. Although you can search for Canadian results, their results were not as useful to me as the suggestions from Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest, covered in the next lesson.

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 the tools. Try not to sign up for additional services if you can. Why sign up for a service you may not need?