For artists, SEO usually means one of these:
- Populating Google when people search your name
- Populating Google Images when people search your name
- Populating Google Images when people search keywords about your artwork
- Galleries ranking high for “art gallery” in your city and represented artist names
I will show you how to do all these (including Wikipedia), and you can use the table of contents below to find exactly what you need. I have already done many of these for René Romero Schuler (an artist who I’ve been working with for 5 years) which you will see worked quite well.
Google creates their search results by pulling content from different parts of the web. Your website is one, Google Images are another, social media profiles, Wikipedia and so forth. Put it all together and that’s what you see in Google. This just means we need to create content in the right places and tweak it a bit. This will help you populate Google with YOUR content and push irrelevant content down in Google search results. That’s what SEO for artists is all about.
I spent over 2 days on this tutorial. It’s a bit lengthy, but follow these steps and you should get VERY good results (and if for some reason you don’t, leave me a comment and I will help you).
If You’re Using WordPresss – I recommend installing the Yoast SEO Plugin which I reference throughout this tutorial. To do this, log into your WordPress dashboard, go to your Plugins menu (on the left), then search for Yoast SEO. Simply install and activate it. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, I’ll trade you a Yoast installation for a Facebook/Twitter share.
My Background – I’m the #1 ranked WordPress SEO Consultant in Google, designed 10 WordPress websites for artists, am Google Analytics certified, and my website gets 1,000 visits/day. Not trying to sell you anything, just assure you this stuff is actually going to work.
Table Of Contents
- Dissecting Google
- Ranking Your Website #1
- Google Image Optimization
- Social Media Profile Optimization
- Youtube Video SEO
- Get An Artist Wikipedia Page
- SEO For Art Galleries
- Make Your Website Load Faster
1. Dissecting Google
In this article I will use René Romero Schuler as an example.
René was the first artist I did work for, is still a client, and a great friend.
Search her name in Google and this is what you’ll see…
Search her name in Google Images and she also dominates…
Now I’ll show you how to complete each item in the table of contents…
2. Ranking Your Website #1
Use Your Name In The Domain – using an exact match domain (www.yourname.com) is the easiest way to rank high for your name. As long as you build out your website with your portfolio, bio, statement, events, and other important pages – you should eventually rank in the top result. If you just created your website it will take some time, but don’t wait around. You’ll want to give Google other “signals” by following additional steps listed in this tutorial.
Use Your Name In The Homepage Snippet – each page on your website has a snippet that appears in search results (see below). This consists of your SEO title (the link) and your meta description (the longer summary). Instead of using the default snippet given to you by WordPress, or whatever website builder you’re using, you should write these yourself.
Here’s what the snippet looks like…
To edit these in WordPress, make sure you have the Yoast SEO Plugin installed (Plugins → Add New → Yoast). Then in your WordPress dashboard (below), go to SEO → Titles & Metas.
Now go to the “homepage” tab. You will see fields where you can edit these…
Or (in my case), you will see a link to your homepage. Click that to go to your homepage, then scroll down to the Yoast section and click on the “snippet preview” (see below). Here’s where you write them. When you’re done, update the page, then give Google 1-5 days to crawl your site and show these. Other website builders will have a similar process of writing snippets.
No Text / Unreadable Text – if there’s no text on the page, all Google sees are your images (which I’ll cover in step 2). However even without text, you SHOULD still be able to rank #1 for your name. But art galleries wanting to rank for “art gallery chicago” (a more competitive keyword) should probably have some text on the page. If you do use it, avoid embedding text into images or using flash as these are unreadable to Google. If you open your website and try to copy some text, but can’t, this means it’s unreadable to Google and won’t benefit your SEO.
3. Google Image Optimization
If you go to René’s Google Images you can see she dominates the results (a project I did for her). But it’s actually very easy since the majority of images only come from a few sources.
Before uploading your images ANYWHERE online, always label the file name with the title of your artwork. An example would be: Alpana – 5×5 Oil On Canvas by René Romero Schuler. If your main goal is to populate Google Images when people search your name, include this in the file name. If you goal is to populate Google with a keyword related to your art, leave it out. This goes for images on your website, social media profiles, Wikipedia, and basically everywhere.
Main Social Media Profile Photo + Cover Photo Are The Ones That Rank
Your main profile picture is the one MOST likely to appear in Google Images, so make sure you include your name in the file name before uploading your main photo AND any covers photos.
Create A Pinboard
Rene’s pinboard is around 20% of her Google Image results . Pinterest is a high authority website so images you upload here are likely to rank high. Create an awesome pinboard with your art and maybe a few photos of you, and you’ll be dominating Google Images in no time.
Use this tutorial video which shows you how…
Optimize Images On Your Website
The images on your homepage, bio, and the FIRST image you see when you open up a portfolio page are the ones most likely to appear in Google Images. Each of these images can be “optimized” by using your artist name in the image file name and alternative text…
Image File Name. This is what the image is labeled on your computer before you upload it. Anytime you upload an image to the web, the file name will be associated with that image. To help search engines associate an image with your artist name, I recommend this format:
Artwork Description – Your Name
Alternative Text. Alternative text is also used to describe images to search engines. If you’re on WordPress, it will automatically use the file name as the alternative text, so you can skip this step. If you’re not running WordPress, look for a field to fill out an image’s alternative text, or you will have to edit the HTML to do this (forward this article to your developer if need be):
<img title=”image title” alt=”alternative text” src=”http://www.onlinemediamasters.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/image-file-name.png” width=”300″ height=”300″ />
Upload Images To Wikimedia Commons
About 30% of Rene’s Google Images are from Wikimedia. Just sign up for Wikimedia and upload photos to Wikimedia Commons (here are full instructions). When you get to the uploading process, include your keyword (eg. your name) in each photo’s description. There is a catch; people who click the photo in Google Images will be view this image (not an actual Wikipedia page). If you have enough sources, I’ll show you how to get an actual page in step 6.
If you want to rank higher in Google Images for a keyword other than your name, go to images.google.com. Now start typing in your keyword using the underline character _ to find a specific type of flower in the dropdown menu. Generally, the more specific the keyword, the easier it will be to rank. Once you find your keyword, upload your image to the sources above (social profiles, pinboard, website…). Give it some time and ideally it will rank high. Images that are uploaded to a high authority website (like Pinterest) have a better chance of ranking.
If you are having trouble and an image doesn’t rank high, try selecting an even more specific keyword. Generally the more specific the keyword is, the less competitive it will have. And if a keyword shows up in Google’s dropdown menu, that means people are indeed searching for it.
4. Social Media Profile Optimization
Why social media is important for artist SEO…
- Social media profiles rank high in Google
- Profile photos are usually shown in Google Images
- Google+ profiles are often shown on the right side of Google
The most important social networks are…
- Google+ (believe or not, this is the most important one for SEO)
- Facebook Page
Use Your Social Media Profiles Makes Them Rank Higher
Make sure all media profiles are 100% complete and include your artwork (which can usually be categorized into albums, pinboards, etcs). Adding connections and posting ongoing updates send good signals to Google that you’re a legit person/business. If you want to populate Google with your content, using social media profiles is probably the easiest way to do that.
5. Youtube Video SEO
Youtube videos can also appear in Google. This is called video seo and looks like this:
- Create your video
- Label your video file as the keyword, then upload to Youtube
- Design a custom thumbail, label it with your keyword, then upload it
- Write a nice title which should also include your keyword
- Write a long (preferably 400+ word) description using your keyword 2-3 times
- Don’t overdue it on the tags, but add a few
- Get more likes, views, comments by promoting it
- Embed it on your website (# of embeds is a ranking factor)
- ALWAYS respond to comments as these will help it rank higher
FYI here’s an updated video of René if you want to hear her story…
6. Get An Artist Wikipedia Page
Here’s the Wikipedia page I did for René Romero Schuler…
And here’s one I did for Laura Myntti…
Step 1: Gather Sources – gather links from ALL online articles you’re mentioned in. These should not be published by you (eg. your website) since that would be considered biased and against their guidelines, which I recommend skimming through. There is no perfect number of sources, but ideally it should be over 15. To find these, Google your name, scroll through the results, then start building your list. You can setup a Google Alert for when someone publishes something about you in the future. Once you have a list of sources, it’s time to write a draft.
Step 2: Write A Factual, Non-Biased Draft – look at the format of René, Laura, and other artist Wikipedia pages. Follow a similar format: early life and background, works of art, exhibitions, collections, references, etc. It should be similar. Also notice nearly EVERY sentence is cited. You don’t have to copy/paste exact sentences from your sources, but the article should be derived from them, NOT your own words. So just do the best you can to write the article while citing your sources. Also leave out any promotional or exaggerating tone.
Step 3: Hire A Wikipedia Article Writer – you will need someone to review your draft, make sure it follows Wikipedia guidelines, and write the first draft in Wikipedia code. You can hiring a Wikipedia article writer by signing up for a freelancer account then posting a job for a “Wikipedia Article Writer” (there are plenty out there). Either wait for people to apply, or search for a writer and ask high-rated people if they’re interested. Most of them are overseas, but hiring some here has always worked for me. Just make sure they have very good reviews.
Step 4: Work With Your Wikipedia Writer To Get It Published – they will tell you if anything needs to be fixed. Just send them your draft, list of sources, and a few images if you’re including a “works” section. Thy will also need your main picture and information that shows on the right side of the page. From here, it’s just a matter of working with your writer. I am NOT a writer so I can’t answer too many questions about this, but you writer should be able to.
Wikipedia article writers are just WAITING for you to send them a draft…
7. SEO For Art Galleries
If you run an art gallery I assume you want to rank high for your represented artist names as well as “Art Gallery Chicago” or whatever city you’re in. Here’s exactly how to do that…
Create A Separate Page For Each Artist – if someone searches “René Romero Schuler” do you really think Google is going to show a page showing 20 different artists? No, you need a separate page for each person so you can better target each of your artist’s names.
Optimize Your Artist Pages
- Use the artist name as the page title
- Ideally their portfolio should include a lot of that artist’s work
- Label images before uploading them (as the title of the artwork)
- Use as much unique content as possible, duplicate content isn’t good
- Use some text on the page if possible, otherwise Google has are images
- Write your snippet to sound nice and include their name (as described in step 1)
- Include unique information, why should Google show your page and not other galleries? This is a huge factor since ‘valuable’ content usually outranks the competition. Google measures how much time people spend on a page and uses it to determine a page’s rankings, so investing time in content is the #1 thing you can do.
Spruce Up Your Google My Business Page – create a Google My Business Page if you haven’t already (but do NOT create a duplicate). Make it 100% complete with as many professional photos as possible, verify your page, get a virtual tour, and a custom URL. Use consistent NAP (business name, address, phone) as listed on your website. Spend a good amount of time on your Google My Business page since these are the actual listings that appear in Google Maps.
Get Reviews (Especially On Google My Business) – you need 5 reviews to get the stars.
Enhance Online Profiles With Moz Local – run your website through Moz Local which helps you fix incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate profiles. Get your score up as much as you can… these profiles (called citations) are the #2, #5, and #14 ranking factor in Google Maps.
Outsource Less Important Profiles To Whitespark – since these profiles are so important, you need more of them. You can either outsource this to Whitespark’s citation service for $4-5 per profile, or use their list of top citations by city. But you should at LEAST have 50 other profiles other than the ones in Moz Local. If you do this yourself, be sure to keep track of your logins.
Follow Google’s Local Search Ranking Factors – I covered the majority of it, but if you’re ever in doubt of how to rank higher in Google Maps and local search results, check Google’ local search ranking factors. This is reported every 2 years by Moz and is the most accurate study.
8. Make Your Website Load Faster
You don’t need a developer to do this…
- Run your website through GTmetrix to see if it’s slow
- If yes, fast hosting is the #1 thing WordPress recommends in their optimization guide
- View this Facebook poll of the top rated hosts to see if YOURS is at the bottom
- Sign up for SiteGround the #1 rated host an officially recommended by WordPress
- If you have a WordPress website, sign up through their WordPress hosting page
- If you only need to host 1 website, use SiteGround’s StartUp plan which is $3.95/month
- If you need to host multiple websites, use their GrowBig which is $7.95/month
- SiteGround will migrate your hosting for free, just buy a plan and call them to do this
- When done, retest your site in GTmetrix and click through pages to see the difference
- It gets technical, but my WordPress speed guide has many other recommendations
- If using WordPress, you can hire my developer to fix your GTmetrix report ($25/hour)
I use SiteGround and my site loads in .8 seconds (view my GTmetrix report)…
Website load an average of 1.3 seconds on SiteGround…
People love them…
Remember SiteGround will migrate you for free so you literally just have to get a plan, then call them to ask if they can migrate your current host to their servers. I’ve done with numerous websites and it has worked very well with minimal downtime and no technical issues.
If you found my article helpful and have a friend who would also benefit from reading it, please consider sharing it with him or her. I’m glad to answer any questions you have about artist SEO, Wikipedia, and SEO in general. Just drop me a line in the comments section below.