Big Human, Rockefeller Center’s digital agency of record, has been overseeing the strategy and execution of The Center Magazine, the online publication of Rockefeller Center, since 2021. During the first three months of the engagement, it became clear that while a decent amount of the publication’s traffic came from organic search (most of it to a few key articles), the content as a whole was not working hard enough in the search space. It was also apparent that were several untapped opportunities that could lead to increased traffic to the website. Big Human immediately began working toward turning The Center Magazine into an SEO powerhouse in 2022.
The main objectives of this SEO effort were:
Increase traffic to the magazine
Create content that resonates with both Rockefeller Center’s current audience and draws in new audiences — thus positioning Rockefeller Center as a decidedly New York City authority
Leverage The Center Magazine as an initial touchpoint for users who could be converted into newsletter subscribers, ticket buyers, and visitors to Rockefeller Center events and programming
Plan of action: The initial SEO push began with a full magazine audit. What was currently ranking in SERPs? What wasn’t? What content was no longer relevant, and what content felt more evergreen? And, most importantly, how was the current content structured and built out in the content management system (CMS), and how could that be improved in order to aid in SEO? Simultaneously, Big Human conducted keyword research in order to identify opportunities for future content production. An in-depth analysis of historical data pinpointed trends and specific time periods (particularly around the holiday season) when Rockefeller Center should be a larger authority and could further leverage its expertise and resources.
Execution: The project’s execution was three-part: on-site content optimization of all previously published content, strategic repurposing of older content, and publishing of new content that would not only resonate with the audience but also appears in the SERPs.
On-site optimization including updating page titles and meta descriptions, formatting H1s and H2s, and certifying the general user experience was positive (all links within the content worked, the copy layout was web- and mobile-friendly, etc). Older content was also revisited in order to ensure any outdated articles were either updated or redirected to more relevant and up-to-date articles. Previously published content that already built authority or SERP but needed a content refresh was placed in the content queue to be rewritten.
As part of the new production process, the team strategized keywords and topics that would align with business needs (ticketing, events, retail openings) and aid in the larger SEO effort. Any new piece of content was published with a keyword-informed title tag, meta description, alt text, and natural yet effective keyword placement within the article itself.
Key features: As part of the 2022 SEO strategy, there were three content topics (or tentpoles) where the team placed additional focus and resources.
Holidays: Rockefeller Center is known as a holiday destination within NYC (The Rink, the Christmas Tree, gift shopping). The months of November and December typically see the most traffic both on the magazine as well as the main website; the magazine content needed to support those efforts. The articles with the most organic search traffic were those that stemmed from historical data and keyword research, including “Meet the Man Who Picks the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree,” “The Guide to Ice Skating at The Rink,” and “Where the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Goes Next.”
NBC: As NBC Studios is located in 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the team wanted to utilize that authority, updating an older post, “How to Get Tickets to NBC Shows,” with optimized, relevant content.
Event Roundups: An SEO initiative started at the end of 2021, the magazine features a monthly roundup of NYC events outside of Rockefeller Center. This continued, with even greater success, in 2022. Examples include: October, November, and December.
The Center Magazine traffic increased 33% year over year (2022 vs. 2021). Of the total magazine traffic, organic search page views increased 75.8% (2022 vs. 2021). In 2022, 68% of magazine traffic came from organic search.
It’s clear from the significant increase in organic traffic in 2022 that the content published on The Center Magazine not only engaged the current audience but also brought in additional eyes through the organic search channel. While there is no data that specifically tracks the number of visitors who came to Rockefeller Center in person or bought tickets at a later date after reading the magazine, the number of newsletter subscribers increased 33.4% in 2022 — mirroring the success of the magazine traffic.
The top articles in 2022 were:
How to Get Tickets to Live Tapings of NBC Shows at Rockefeller Center — as of January 2023, this ranks on the first page of Google for several major keywords, including “buy snl ticket,” “how to get on saturday night live,” and “nbc snl lottery.” 93.4% of traffic came from organic search.
How to Watch This Year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting — 18% of traffic came from organic search.
Meet the Man Who Has Picked the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree for Three Decades — 76% of traffic came from organic search.