CLUAS = Ireland's no.1 Jazz website?
Monday, November 19, 2007
It would come as a surprise to regular visitors but CLUAS is - for the moment - Ireland's no. 1 website for Jazz music. Official.
Well, official at least in the eyes of Yahoo, or Microsoft's 'Live' search engine because, at the time of writing, those two search engines are ranking CLUAS as the number one result for searches for 'Irish Jazz Music' (see Yahoo's results here, Live.com's here). What's more Google was also ranking CLUAS as the number one result up until last week when they (getting a dose of common sense or something) decided to rank another website for these vital key words (Update: After dropping CLUAS from the no.1 spot, in fact dropping us from their entire list of top 100 'Irish Jazz Music' websites, Google has decided that CLUAS is, once again, a top website for Irish Jazz Music).
How did this happen? It is the result of an experiment I undertook at the beginning of October to see if I could get CLUAS to rank highly for a genre of music we usually do not focus on. Jazz music was a good candidate I thought. While it is certainly not something the site focuses on, there have been a tiny number of articles published in our 8 years history that can be classified as being about jazz (or something vaguely jazzy), so there was something to work with.
So what did I do? It was just a few simple steps. I first created a brand new page on CLUAS for Jazz music, let's call is the CLUAS 'Jazz Music home page' (this is the page now appear as the number one result for Yahoo and Live). I then set about making this the strongest page about jazz on CLUAS by doing the following:
- I put a link to each of the jazz articles on CLUAS on this 'jazz home page' (there are a total of about a 10 articles for jazz, definitely not comprehensive coverage).
- I then added on each of these articles a link back to the CLUAS 'jazz home page'.
- I did a site wide search for all occurrences of the word ‘jazz’ on CLUAS and then linked each of them back to the 'jazz home page’. I also added a link as well to the CLUAS sitemap page (a page the search engines visit regularly, this meant I could be confident the search engines would find the jazz home page).
I then sat back and waited for the search engines to do their stuff. Within a week I started to see results. Google was the first to rank CLUAS as no. 1 for Irish Jazz Music (and also the first to drop it! Update Nov 19 - it's back as the no.2 site now). The Yahoo and Live search engines soon followed.
But once I saw the result I set about creating other thematic 'home pages' using exactly the same method, with a view to getting them to also rank well for relevant key words (and so drive more traffic and new users to CLUAS).
The first 'thematic target' I set was Dublin gig venues. A lot of people search for info on gigs by searching for the venue name. Maybe CLUAS could grab some of that search engine traffic by creating some relevant pages that could rank highly for different Dublin venues? With this in mind a month or so ago I set about creating a home page for each of the main Dublin venues where, over the years, the CLUAS writers have reviewed gigs. There is now a page on CLUAS for Tripod, Whelan's, The Village, Vicar Street, The Point Theatre, Olympia, Ambassador and the former Temple Bar Music Centre). Each page has links to the gigs we have reviewed over the years in that venue.
The result? Across all three of the major search engines (Google, Yahoo and Live) CLUAS is now one of the top 10 sites for various key word searches relating to these Dublin venues. The only downside is that we are not appearing in the top 5 results (where most people click on a result), when we appear it is more typically between the 6th and 10th spots.
Nonetheless this is bringing a healthy and steady level of brand new first time visitors to the CLUAS site. For example the traffic analytics service that CLUAS uses show that over the first two weeks of November 2007 a total of 44 visitors (i.e. an average of 3 a day or appox 100 a month) reached the site after they searched for something relating to Vicar Street. Not a huge number at first glance but is encouraging is that 97% of these visitors had never visited CLUAS before and once they get to the site they, on average, ended up choosing to view 2.8 pages on their initial visit. I am seeing similar levels of new visitors (and pages that they then go on to view) for people searching for info on the Point Depot, Whelan's, the Ambassador and Olympia.
In a nutshell these new venue pages are bring a minimum of 300 brand new first time visitors to CLUAS every month and these visitors don't just bolt for the door when they hit the site, they hang around and browse an average of about 3 pages each.
Expect some more themed 'home pages' on CLUAS that aim to rank highly in the search engines and, in so doing, rope in more first time visitors to the site. If even only 10% of them then go on to be regular visitors, it will result in a long term growth in our visitor base.