7. Use keywords in SEO strategy

We’ve taken a whirlwind tour of the ideas in play for Artists who want to explore SEO. We’ve looked at the keywords people use to find our site(s). We’ve used free tools to learn how others use similar keywords, phrases and queries to attract visitors to their sites. This process has given me a chance to observe how visitors to my site address their challenges. For example, a teacher preparing a new course might search for “examples of digital storytelling.” Someone who is trying to clean specks from a scan might useĀ  “Photoshop to clean up scanned photos.”

There are several big take-ways for me, based on this research. First, I have a clearer idea of two different audiences for the site. Technical tutorials related to digital storytelling have the potential to bring in more visitors than digital storytelling. This audience is driven to Digital Stories Canada as organic traffic following internet searches. It is unclear whether these visitors care whether their information comes from a site like Digital Stories Canada. To learn more, I could look at the behavior of visitors drawn to the site by organic searchers for technical tutorials. Do they explore the site further?

Work with our first Community Digital Storytelling Initiative (2019/20) has led to structured research and the creation of essays on how our sector developed and operates in British Columbia. The second initiative in 2020 focused on building digital capacity for artists and arts organizations. We’ve created tutorials on Metadata for Arts Organizations, Zoom for Artists, and this course, SEO for Artists. We’ve also created two videos. Trapline shares the knowledge of rural Indigenous artists in Canada while promoting two regional regional production centres, while Data Visualization for Artists explores many options, ranging from online Info Graphics apps to top-of-the-line Tableau software. Each of these essays, tutorials and videos could be promoted through social media and blog posts on the site. Links could be suggested to university libraries, providing a valuable resource. While outreach is ongoing, discussions with users of the content will provide even more insight to expand our audience.

It looks like there is a smaller audience for digital stories and community-based storytelling than technical tutorials. This differs from the audience for individual digital stories. This audience is attracted more to individual digital stories with familiar themes or personnel. When a storyteller sends the link to their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram friends, they are more likely to click through and watch the digital story. And to share it with their friends. Although individual storytellers share their link immediately after making their work, they are less likely to promote it as time goes on. Each digital story could be optimized for online searches based on topic. For example, there is a digital story Streetcars of Mount Pleasant about the historic transportation system in Vancouver. When the link was shared with a Facebook group related to historic streetcars, thousands viewed their digital story.

Finally, Digital Stories Canada has a very low profile on social media, except for promotion by storytellers. The site is adding more content but I have not focused on social media promotion. A further analysis of keywords, phases and queries that connect with that content could strengthen the descriptions used to promote the work online. As well, blog posts could be used to engage with the content – examples of digital storytelling, stories with a twist ending, stories by Indigenous youth, Northern experiences in digital stories, LGBT2Q+ elders telling stories, digital stories from newcomers to Canada – many themes to explore.

Our World Language - first analysis

The idea behind our initiative, funded in part by the Canada Council for the Arts, is to develop and share digital strategies with other artists and arts organizations. With this in mind, I created a report using Ubersuggest for Our World Language, run by Lisa g. Nielsen. Since their site does not use WordPress and is not registered for Google Search Console, traffic volume and most visited pages were a bit of a mystery. Lisa does a great job using social media, as do the storytellers she works with.

Ubersuggest SEO analysis for Our World Language, 6 January 2021
Ubersuggest SEO analysis for Our World Language, 6 January 2021

According to Ubersuggest’s free analysis tool, Our World Language (OWL) has 638 monthly visitors. There are 843 keywords, but which ones are the most useful?

Ubersuggest report on keywords by traffic volume for Our World Language, 6 January 2021
Ubersuggest report on keywords by traffic volume for Our World Language, 6 January 2021

I exported the full report as a .cvs file for Lisa. The keywords driving traffic to her site were dominated by place names. Over the years, Lisa and other mentors traveled to these communities to hold digital storytelling workshops. Now these local stories are showing up in search results for their community. As you click on each keyword on the left side, the right side gives you insight into the other sites who also rank for that word. Out of the 22,000 people who search monthly for Haida Gwaii, you can see that travel sites get most of the traffic, along with Wikipedia. What makes Our World Language stand out from the crowd? It promotes images and insights created by local people.

Ubersuggest report on Top Traffic pages for Our World Language, 6 January 2021
Ubersuggest report on Top Traffic pages for Our World Language, 6 January 2021

The report above lists pages that bring in the most visitors. Workshops held in Kahnawake and Bella Bella are even more popular than the home page and a listing of all of the films created during their digital storytelling workshops. One strategy at this point would be to look at the keywords that are driving traffic to these pages. How can the pages became even more authoritative? Their listings are related to geography so maybe a look at the phrases or queries that people use may help Lisa to tweak the written content on those pages.

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We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.