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Is the future of event promotion structured data snippets?

Would you want your event to be seen on the Internet by more people than it is today? In this post we will examine how snippets are already being used to reach more people and have them take action.

This will be a business explanation and non-technical as far as possible.

What you see on a Google search results page

When you search for any subject on Google you would expect to see a search page displayed that has a small number of adverts or sponsored links at the top and then multiple results matching the subject you were looking for. These results are delivered free by Google and aim to be ordered in the best way possible to give you answers to your question.

As an example, see the screenshot below. The first search result is a paid advert, after which the results are free and ranked in order by Google.

Recently a third type of information has also been displayed on the search results page, typically this is shown in a box or a table. The items in the box can often be expanded to give a full answer as well as being clickable so that the person looking at the page can jump to the website from which this information came from.

You will see in the example screenshot below that I searched for "how to plan an event" and the first result was a box with an explanation of the steps to plan an event. The box appears above the normal search results.

In other words, these boxes and tables are being displayed above the hard fought for search results. A lot of time and money is put into ranking at the top of these non-paid results, but the boxes and tables are appearing even higher up the page and grabbing the readers attention.

Who wants to read through pages and pages of results when a good answer is right there highlighted in a box above the search results?

What are structured data snippets?

The source of the information being displayed in these boxes and tables is typically structured data snippets and not traditional web pages. These are an industry standard ( way of formatting information for sharing.

Luckily for us this includes a specific "event" type data snippet in which any type of event can be published. This can be quite rich and includes the different types of event ticket, their prices and availability.

Before event snippets existed each event promoted on the internet would be formatted in a different way. The layout of an event page would also be different. So it would have been very difficult for a machine to make sense of all these events, each with a different format.

So why does this matter?

The power of the snippet is that Google can now understand key information that you have told it about your event and it can do some simple processing.

For example, if someone wants to know what events there are in London this weekend then Google can look at all the snippets, filter by location and filter by date and then deliver a list of events that are on this weekend in London.

See the screenshot below for what this already looks like as a Google result.

Those event boxes above the blue colour search results are the direct result of event snippets being published.

Unless Google could understand the location and dates of your event then it would not be able to include it in these results. So you are missing out on event promotion if your event is not being published as a snippet.

How you can use snippets to promote your event

Quite simply, all your events should be published on the internet as structured snippets as well as being published as human readable website pages.

Then Google will use this information when it can to improve and enrich the web search results it displays to your potential customers.

Without snippets, the people that find your event on the internet could be restricted to those that know the name of your event, the location, the type of event it is or those who know the organizer of the event. Therefore, if you consider all the competing events as well then there maybe a lot of web pages for your potential customer to read through before they find your event.

Snippets make it as easy as possible for new customers to discover your event.

Understanding Google's plans

Google wants you to publish structured data. For technical people it provides tools and explanations on how to do it.

Despite this, no-one knows exactly why some snippets are displayed and others are not. Putting aside data quality issues, most likely this is because Google is slowly making more and more use of data snippets and it is taking time to roll-out these changes across the whole internet.

Without knowing Googles exact plans it is even more important to publish all your event as structured data snippets from now on and to trust in Google to make use of them and promote your event at the first opportunity.

How do I publish event structured data snippets?

Publishing this information to Google is completely open and without restriction. If you have your own event website you could start publishing snippets yourself straight away.

Alternatively, without any further investment, if you sell your tickets using an online event ticketing platform then you could leave that platform to publish for you. The event ticketing platform will already have all the information about your event including ticket availability and pricing.

Unfortunately, not all event ticketing platforms are publishing snippets for you in this way. So it is worth specifically checking this with your ticketing service provider.

For Subscribers to Coconut Tickets

Event snippets are being generated for you already by Coconut Tickets!

Any public ticketing event that you put on sale is automatically published to Google.

This is quite new (for Google as well as for Coconut Tickets) so it might take a little time to get this perfected. Also, there will always be a few days delay between putting an event on sale and Google noticing this and including it in their search results.

At the moment this only includes public ticketing events and not vendor applications. This is the full scope of event snippets that Google currently understands.

If you don't want your event published to Google then simply switch the event to "private" on the event definition page.

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