How We Boosted Bowdoin Int’l Music Festival’s SEO

At Eri Design, we pride ourselves on making sleek, intuitive, and engaging websites. With every website we complete, it’s our hope that they will help our clients grow and solve their business needs.

Even well-designed websites are not poised to rank well on Google. Technical SEO expertise is often required to refine searchability, especially given how competitive today’s landscape is.

Roughly 3 years ago, we redesigned the website for our friends at Bowdoin International Music Festival. Although their engagement climbed substantially, they still weren’t satisfied with their organic traffic. So, they contacted us to conduct an SEO campaign.

Bowdoin is a world-class music institute that offers performances by distinguished faculty and intensive education for aspiring artists. For some context, most keywords related to classical or chamber music, with other identifiers like time of year and location.

The Process

Anyone in the digital marketing realm knows that careful planning is critical to success. We laid out a plan of attack for our 4-month campaign so that we could prioritize key items within our time frame.

Audit

Naturally, the first step for us was to audit the current state of their website, much like we do for website redesigns. This was done through a combination of SEO software, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and manual inspection of the website pages.

Moz dashboard showing crawl errors for Bowdoin's site

Keyword Research

After our initial audit, we collaborated with the Festival to establish a list of priority keywords based on search volume, competition, and the Festival’s industry knowledge. Over the course of the campaign, we tracked position changes and overall search visibility based on these keywords.

Getting to Work

With our keywords established, it was time to get down and dirty. We spent a large portion of time optimizing meta titles and descriptions, as well as making content changes to some of their key landing pages. We ran other technical optimizations like fixing URL structure, optimizing images (filename and alt text), and resolving 404 errors.

The Results

All this SEO mumbo-jumbo means nothing unless we actually got some results for the Festival. However, we were proud to report the final numbers to them at the conclusion of the campaign.

15% increase in users through organic search

Comparing two time frames from the previous year and the current year, we saw a 15% increase in users coming from search engines (mainly Google). Considering we only had 4 months to work with, this is a pretty sizable improvement. The current numbers are still showing upticks in organic traffic.

18% increase in new users

Due to the improved searchability, the Festival saw an 18% increase in new users coming to their site. Simply put, now that they were ranking well for certain keywords, certain people who may not have known about them were now discovering them.

3% increase in search visibility

The SEO software we use, Moz, has its own metric called “search visibility,” which takes specified keywords and ranks them against up to three competitors. At the start of the campaign, the Festival’s search visibility was at 4.88 percent. By the end, their search visibility had risen to 7.85 percent, while their competitors remained stagnant or even dropped.

21 Keywords into the top ten positions

Nowadays, almost no one goes past the first page of Google. Needless to say, ranking on the first page for a query is almost mandatory to generate traffic. We managed to get 21 keywords onto the first page (and several into the top 3 spots), which greatly helped their visibility and click-through rate.

Several #1 keywords

Of course, better than the first page is actually being the first result for a search term. We propelled several terms into the #1 spot, giving the Festival a lion’s share of the clicks:

  • music composition summer program maine
  • summer classical music institute maine (from #3)
  • collaborative piano summer festivals
  • classical music events brunswick maine (from #8)
  • Sergiu Schwartz
  • classical music concerts brunswick maine (from #3)
  • summer instrumental program
  • summer classical music institute near me (from #35)

Other ranking improvements

While we weren’t able to get all terms to #1 for this short period of time (although that would be nice!), we made big strides on other keywords:

  • summer classical music institute near me #35 → #2
  • watch chamber music online free: #51+ → #3
  • summer classical music festival 2019: #14 → #3
  • summer chamber music courses #47 → #5
  • classical chamber music maine: #13 → #5
  • chamber music masterclass near me: #51+ → #7
  • contemporary music summer programs near me: #51+ → #8
  • music composition summer program: #51+ → #9
  • free classical music concerts maine: #35 → #17
  • classical music performances maine: #45 → #21
  • summer chamber music programs 2019: #51+ → #22

Several keywords went from essentially unranked into a top ten spot. Others are not in the top ten yet, but we anticipate they will be in the coming months.

Featured snippet

Of all the improvements we made to the Festival, the most satisfying was definitely the coveted featured snippet that we earned. Featured snippets are considered position #0, as they appear before any other results. For the term “collaborative piano summer programs,” we earned a snippet, which massively increases visibility and CTR.

Featured snippet on Google for the term "collaborative piano summer programs"

Ongoing success

The results from our 4-month campaign were certainly promising, but the effects of our efforts should carry the Festival for months to come. Search engine optimization is a long game that requires constant care and attention. Still, the major technical and content improvements we made should keep their ranking intact well into the future.

Looking for SEO experts to improve your organic ranking and traffic? Contact us today to get started!

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