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By Mark Turtelington
If you’re serious about creating and sharing music in 2019, you have to think about making your work searchable online. From getting the word out about a new release to selling concert tickets to offering merch to your most devoted fans, focusing on the administrative elements of your online presence for just a few moments (like metadata, tagging, and SEO strategy) will end up making a huge difference.
For the uninitiated, SEO stands for search engine optimization. (Google and Bing are both search engines, by the way.) SEO is the art of boosting traffic to your website through organic search results.
Play the SEO game right, and you’ll help bring more people with an interest in your music to your website. But, as we’ll see, SEO is constantly changing and not always easy to beat each time around. Ranking high in the search results takes maintenance and upkeep, but it’s well worth it in the long run. These types of marketing strategies don’t always come easy to musicians, so we’re here to help with some sensible advice for making your music more searchable.
Research and implement the right keywords.
Keywords are a biggie in the SEO world, so make sure you do your research. Take some time to write down descriptive words that define your music. Think: genre, style, location, instrumentation, influences, similar artists, etc. You should also add in keywords describing what you hope ideal new fans would type in to find more music they like.
For example, if for some reason your band name is Versatile Turtle Rebellion, then “New Album for Versatile Turtle Rebellion” would be a good keyword-filled phrase to use in the metadata of your website, as well as on site copy as much as possible. But while that’s a surefire search term to assume that your fanbase might type in, it’s not something that new fans are going to type in. That’s why keywords that describe your band (and don’t simply mention the obvious names and titles) are important.
What’s also important is repetition, and synonymic variations. If you need help with synonyms, try the LSI Graph keyword generator.
Prioritize optimizations on your site.
If you’re interested in driving more traffic to your website, you have to optimize your website accordingly. And honestly, depending on your host or web provider (Bandzoogle, WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, etc.), it might not be that complicated! But metadata is surely important. Make sure you include in your website’s metadata the kinds of words you’d want to show up as a search result if someone finds you online.
SEO metadata can be summed up in three major parts:
- Meta descriptions: Keep these between 50-300 characters. They don’t directly impact SEO rankings, but they’re important because they serve as a first impression for what your music is about to people searching.
- Title tags: These are the main titles that show up in Google when you conduct searches. For SEO purposes, it’s best to keep these in the range of 50-70 characters.
- Headers: These are the titles for the articles and posts on your site. You only get one header per post, but have an unlimited number of Header 2s and 3s at your disposal. You can write a main article with the header “Versatile Turtle Rebellion is Back in the Studio,” with various Header 2 and 3 sections. Google prefers simple, organized content, so keep it readable and structured.
To get the most out of your SEO efforts, set yourself up on a good analytics platform. Update your old content and make an effort to keep putting out new blogs, videos, and music.
Figure out what makes you rank higher.
Simply slapping up a shiny new band website won’t translate to performing highly in the search rankings by itself. Certain factors can either help or hurt your searchability.
Adding unique content to your website is massively important when it comes to SEO. Google’s ever-evolving algorithm seeks out original content when it decides what shows up in its rankings. Every time you update and refresh your page, you’re reminding Google’s algorithm you still exist.
What does unique content look like for a band website?
It means updating your tour page, and maintaining an interesting blog your fans will actually want to read. Write about your new music, post unique things about your pet turtles, talk about the merch you’re selling, but keep it in the spirit of your unique musical identity. Link out to your YouTube videos, because SEO’s omnipotent reach extends to that platform as well. Create a press page and update it periodically with new quotes and links. Throwing in some interesting keywords related to your music will also help.
Optimizing your website so it’s more mobile-friendly is another great way to make sure it ranks highly in searches. Google actually prioritizes sites set up for mobile, so this tip should not be ignored. This means making sure your site works well on cell phones and tablets. Your site and all the unique stuff on it should load quickly whether it’s on someone’s laptop or smartphone.
This is one of the biggest reasons we partnered with the folks at Bandzoogle to create a free online course, How to Create a Killer Musician Website, as it’s something Bandzoogle does really, really well, and we wanted to share the importance of mobile user-friendliness for bands today.
The speed of your site is something you’ll need to check in with frequently if you’re hellbent on ranking highly. The following tools can help optimize this aspect of your website:
- Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) can boost load time for your mobile site because they’re built for optimizing mobile content. For sites hosted by WordPress, these plugins will be a big help.
- WP Smush improves load times by compressing photos automatically, with a minimal loss of noticeable quality.
After you’ve made these changes, make sure to check and see that they’re working. Google’s got a handy tool that tells you whether your site is mobile-friendly or not.
Backlinks are not the easiest way to improve your SEO, but they’re one of the most powerful ways to create long-lasting reputation points with search engines. This is when another site references your site, mentions your name, links to your page, etc. Backlinks are important because they’re used to measure how much people are talking about a certain subject. So basically, make tons of friends, share links, and do them favors.
If you’re working with a PR team, they can help increase your backlinks through link-embedded press releases. Bloggers, journalists, and radio curators will increase your rankings simply by clicking the link and visiting your site, but don’t devalue the importance of your friends’ bands talking about you as well. Make sure to do some link-trading with bands you’re sharing bills with, or artists you’re including on playlists.
Get analytics and tracking set up.
Setting up analytics and tracking platforms is more important than you might think. If you’re familiar with Spotify for Artists feature, other web-based platforms are similar in how they allow you to see who has an interest in your music, and which communities you’ve been able to successfully (and unsuccessfully) reach. Google Analytics is a hugely helpful platform. It shows you how much traffic your website and social media accounts are getting and zooms in on details like activity on your Spotify profile and source tracking.
Being able to interpret this unique data will not only help you understand your current fanbase, it will show you how to get your stuff in front of new audiences. If you can’t set Google’s Analytics tag in your website’s code, check out the Google Tag Manager. And Google’s Search Console shows you what pages on your site are being indexed, along with any potential errors.
That’s probably enough to get you started working on your SEO!
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