WHAT IS SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)?
In simple terms, search engine optimization is the way web pages are designed so that they can be found easily on search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.
Wikipedia writes, “Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.”
Why write a separate article about Search Engine Optimization for artists?
As an artist who has run an online gallery, New York Artists Online (http://NewYorkArtists.net), for over thirteen years, I have seen that artists need to be educated about how to write artists statements that maximize proper SEO. They need to be educated about how to write page content that maximizes SEO ….and they need to be educated about search engine optimization as such.
CRUCIAL FACTS TO KNOW ABOUT SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
First and foremost, when beginning a website, it is crucial to put a great deal of thought into the domain name you will be registering (the word/words that will be in the URL of the web browser, for instance, “newyorkartists.net”). The domain name you choose should be descriptive of the content of your website. Many artists make the mistake of registering their name as their domain (for example, “JaniceStein.com). If Janice is a painter whose artwork focuses on color, it is better to register the domain as, “JaniceSteinColorfulPaintings.com”. The logic behind this, is that more people will search for “colorful paintings” than “JaniceStein”. In addition, there is more of a chance Janice Stein will be found when someone does a search for “colorful paintings”.
SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter)
Create usernames that define you. My username on Twitter is: glorianyartist. My LinkedIn profile is: linkedin.com/gloriarabinowitznyartist. The URL of my Facebook business page is: facebook.com/newyorkartistsonline. My business page on Pinterest is: pinterest.com/nyartistsonline. My Facebook personal page is: Facebook.com/gloriarabinowitzartyoga, because I am an artist and a yoga teacher.
It is crucial that the content of your web pages be as specific as it can be.
- Write your artist statement in the third person (“Janice Stein paints landscapes that focus on color and light”). Many artists make the mistake of writing their artist statement in the first person (“I am a landscape painter and my focus is….). Writing your artist’s statement in the first person (“I”) will not help at all if someone does a search for “Janice Stein”
- Put as many “key words” in the content of your pages as you can. When beginning an artist’s statement, begin with:
- Subject Matter:
- Medium (Media):
- Have your name and “brand” (words that are descriptive of what defines you) on as many pages of the website as you can. For instance, design the site with a “header” on every page. It should include your name and brand.
- Pay attention to the titles of your artwork — make them descriptive and include the medium and size of the artwork.
- Make sure your images have “ALT” tags in the back-end code of your website.
- “LESS IS MORE”
The focus of an art website is art. Make it simple. Allow your artwork to stand out. There are many templates artists can choose from, whether the website is designed using Dreamweaver, WordPress, Joombla or other applications and code. I do not recommend designing a website using Flash. Flash may be fancy and look great with movement, but search engines do not index Flash websites very well. If you are hiring a web designer for a customized website, make sure he does excellent SEO. Ask him what he is doing for SEO. Allow him to educate you.
When web pages are designed using HTML code, essential “key words” of the page are placed in the “meta tags”. Meta tags are HTML code that precede the body (content) of the page. Meta tags also include a “description”. The description in the meta tags of your website is what often shows up in search engines when your website is found. Make it short, descriptive and precise.
If the website is designed in WordPress, a current blogging and website platform, there are various “plug-ins” (add-on features) that can be added to the back-end of the website to improve SEO. “All-in-One SEO” Pack is one. Make sure you use the plug-in for every page.
SEARCH ENGINE SUBMISSION
There are many search engines that you can submit your URL to. Take the time to do this. There are some companies that will submit your URL to dozens search engines for a fee. If you decide to hire a company to submit your URL to search engines, take the time to research the company — read the reviews and testimonials. Whatever you decide, make sure you take the opportunity to submit your URL wherever you can.
The ranking of your website will be higher on search engines, the more other websites link to your website. Network with other artists and designers. Include a page on your website for art resources /and or other artists. Give art-related websites an opportunity to have a link of your website. They in turn, will link to your website.
These crucial points for artists sum up good usage of search engine optimization (which also relates to social media optimization):
- Create a great descriptive domain name when registering your art website for the first time.
- Make usernames (or URLs) descriptive of you and your brand on the social media platforms you participate in.
- Write your artist’s statement in the third person so that search engines will find your name with the kind of artwork you do.
- Make sure the content of your website pages include “key words” and are descriptive and specific to who you are and what your brand is.
- Include your name and your brand on as many pages as you can on the website.
- Make the titles of your artwork descriptive and include the medium and size.
- Use ALT takes for images
- Make your web design simple. Let you artwork stand out.
- Use meta tags for key words and descriptions in your HTML code. Use SEO plugins for WordPress and find out from your web designers what they doing to create good SEO for your website. Submit your website URL to search engines.
- Cross-link/exchange links with related art websites
One very useful SEO link:
The Beginners Guide to SEO