We posted this piece back in November of 2014, and it was so popular we decided to bring it back for round two! We know that the interwebs are a crowded place and it can be hard to have your voice heard when it seems like everyone’s talking at once. NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! PICTURE OF A KITTEN! NOISE! And talk about the additional challenge for artists online… turns out images are not the king of search and discoverability, but rather text is. In 2014 we invited the good folks at Positionly to share some SEO tips for artists, and we’re excited to spread the news all over again.
Without further ado, here’s Kinga Hulewicz, one of Positionly’s Online Marketing Specialists, with some easy-to-implement tips:
The main purpose of you having a website is to showcase (and sometimes sell) your art. The website functions as your online portfolio where you update your audience with the latest pieces of your work. It’s often just a simple blog filled with pictures and photos – a representation of what you do and who you are.
There’s maybe a place for a contact form and for a very few personal details about you. However, it is mostly visual, which is kind of obvious because your work is a visual thing. Art speaks for itself – you say – and there should be no need of using any additional words to define it.
I get you, perfectly. Your audience gets it too. Search engines, however, don’t understand you at all.
In the world of SEO*, it is words that matter the most. Photos, images, paintings, drawings… they all are unrecognizable by search engines. Crawlers (those are robots that scan and index your website) don’t see images the way we do. They can distinguish image from text, but they won’t understand the meaning of it and what it represents. Unless you help them.
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
You shouldn’t. At least, not if you don’t want to put your artwork in front of a wider and possibly foreign audience. Before you decide whether it is worthwhile to bother or not, please keep in mind one thing: in the web ecosystem websites which are not visible barely exist.
You may have your own audience. You have friends that support you, fans on Facebook, followers on Twitter and Pinterest maybe. Some of you also do opening evenings at galleries. You have managed to establish your own network of true advocates and you’re proud of it.
But what is the purpose of having a portfolio that cannot be found by new fans?
Why not make your online website attractive for both your audience and search engines? Especially when you don’t have to change much. Really, there’s no need to put additional words on the website or change its overall look – I know it matters to you and you’d probably wish to leave it the way it is.
MAKING SEO ART-FRIENDLY
Think of the SEO world as not a hostile environment, but as a type of marketing funnel and a new opportunity to attract more advocates and clients. Below I’ve gathered the most crucial rules that you should follow in order to make your online portfolio more visible for the web audience.
Rule #1: Use The Right Words
Search engine optimization is based mostly on keywords. Those are terms that people type in a search bar to look for goods, services and ideas. There are different types of them.
A well optimized website is the one that has the right keywords in place. So the first step of every optimization process is doing a profound keyword research. Find keywords that people type to find the art that you create and you will be halfway there.
The most popular (and free) tool is the Google Keyword Planner. It is available to anyone with a Google AdWords account. To find the right keywords type your domain name and the sort of art that you present on your website. In a few clicks you’ll get keyword suggestions.
You will get a list similar to this one:
Choose “Keyword Ideas” and take a look at two variables for each keyword in the results: the average number of monthly searches and the competition for that keyword.
A high number of average monthly searches shows that people are searching for that keyword. On the other hand, high competition suggests that other parties are currently dominating the front page of search results for those keywords, meaning that you are going to have a tough time getting your site noticed.
The happy medium is somewhere in the middle – finding a keyword with low or medium competition which still has enough searches to be worth targeting.
If you feel that you need some additional help in using Google Keyword Planner, you’ll definitely love this article.
Rule #2: Make Images Visible
As I mentioned at the beginning, search engines don’t read images. They read alt-text instead. To help engines better understand the meaning of an image and what it represents, you should describe it. A very good idea is to put your name, the name of your artwork and at least one of the keywords that you’ve pulled out from the keyword research.
Let’s say that you use WordPress for your website. Each time you upload an image, you have a chance to put the right keywords in its title, description and the alt-text. It’s a little effort from your side, but the benefits for your artwork may be huge!
Rule #3: Use Proper Page URLs
URL stands for uniform resource locator, it is a web address of a single web page. URLs are displayed in a web browser and on SERPs. There are two types of web addresses: static and dynamic.
A static URL looks like this:
A dynamic one can look like this:
While search engines can easily understand both of the URLs, for human beings dynamic URLs are completely incomprehensible. A searcher can’t define what can be found on a particular website. Not to mention that you’ll miss the chance to put one of your relevant keywords in the URL if you choose a dynamic web address.
How you can make a friendly URL?
One easy way to improve SEO on your eCommerce site is to ensure that each URL is SEO-friendly, which means that it should include the main keyword that the page is targeting.
A few good URL practices that are worth keeping in mind:
` use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_). When you use underscores to separate words in an URL name, Google will read it as one single word. For instance: the_fresh_crop will be treated as thefreshcrop
` keep an URL address brief, descriptive and relevant – a visitor should be able to tell at a glance what the website is all about. Let’s take this URL as an example: nuvango.com/gallery/c/photography. It’s not hard for a searcher to guess that this particular webpage contains photo galleries.
` pick the most important keyword and use it in the URL address to optimize your web page. Let’s stay with Nuvango to showcase what it’s all about. In order to optimize for phone cases and skins, Nuvango has put iPhone cases and skins as well as Android cases and skins into their URLs. Take a look:
Rule #4: Tell What Each Page Is About
Each time you type a keyword in a search bar, engine algorithms return pages on the Internet that contain that keyword or phrase. The result that you get is called a search engine results page (SERP).
A single result is not just a link to a website. It consists of: title, meta description and often links to subpages.
The more information you provide about your website, the more details about your portfolio will be shown on SERPs. Use the title-tag and meta-description to convince searchers to go to your website and see your artwork.
Things to remember:
` Title tag should define a site’s content in a concise and clear way. You should keep it short, with a maximum of 50-60 characters. Be sure to include at least two of your most important keywords along with your artist name.
A title tag plays a significant role in SEO as it appears in the search engine result pages (SERPs), on external websites and directly in browsers.
` Meta description is a short paragraph which is displayed under a title tag on SERP.
Sometimes a short title is not enough to fully communicate what your eCommerce business is all about. Meta descriptions give you the opportunity to introduce yourself before a searcher visits your site and actually sees your offerings.
The optimal length of a meta description is between 150-160 characters. While crafting the copy it is good to be as much creative as you can. A boring description can decrease the click-through rate and bring you less visitors.
Rule #5: Spread The Word About Your Work
You create great things. They are yours and one of a kind. Why not share your portfolio with others? Show it to your followers on Facebook and Twitter. Ask friends and other artists to put it on their websites. Brag a little about yourself. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. In the SEO world this bragging is called a link building technique.
Each time someone links your website from another site or blog you gain a backlink! Try to receive as many of them as you can (just avoid the so-called black hat SEO techniques). The reason why backlinks are so important in SEO is that search engines determine the popularity of a website by the number of backlinks it has gained. The more backlinks you get, the more visible your website will be to the searchers.
MEASURE ALL YOUR EFFORTS
Phew! Those are the basic SEO rules. If you follow them, you will make your artwork more visible not only for search engines, but most of all for your new potential audience. The SEO world may not be super art-friendly, but still, there are a few tweaks that can make a huge difference. SEO (if done well) can help grow your network of true advocates. It is worth it to give it a shot!
Once you start optimizing your website, don’t forget to measure the improvements you’ve made. There are a bunch of nice tools that will help you keep an eye on your website’s performance. One of them is Positionly. It’s simple, easy-to-use and perfect for SEO beginners. Try it out and let me know what you think!
Anyway, I hope that I just made it a bit easier for you to optimize your website’s visibility. If you have any questions, suggestions or simply want to say “Hi”, drop me a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org.