SEO for Musicians: Understanding Search Engine Optimization

» Posted by on Jan 1, 2012 in Blog | 62 comments

While social media sharing is becoming more prevalent, the reality is that the majority of people still find most of their content via Google or one of the other major search engines.

This means that if you don’t have some basic understanding of how search engines work you’re missing out on a HUGE potential audience, and more importantly, album sales.

But not all keywords are created equally

I can’t tell you how many times I meet an artist who tells me that he/she has a great search engine ranking. I’ll then ask what keywords he/she ranks for. It seems that nine out of ten times the answer is his or her own band name.

I hate to break it to you, folks, but for the most part this is irrelevant. While it’s certainly important to rank well for your own band name, in doing so, you are essentially just preaching to the choir.

What you ACTUALLY want to do is rank for a completely different keyword (better yet, many of them) which matches the search queries of your potential fans.

For example, if you were an alt-country band you’d do far better to rank for keywords like “rockabilly” and “Americana” then you would to simply rank for your own band name.

To that end, I’ve put together a simple break down of how search engine optimization (SEO) works. When you get into some of the advanced aspects of SEO it can become an art-form in it’s own right. However the fundamentals are fairly straightforward. Hopefully you’ll be able to apply some of this to your website and start exposing your music to a whole new audience.

Search Engine Optimization 101 – Here’s What You Need To Know

  • The search engines (SERPS) see a link from one site to another as a “vote.” In the simplest terms, the site with the most “votes” wins.
  • The search engines look at the quality of the site that is linking to your site and gives additional value to higher quality “votes.”
  • The search engines look at the language that is used in the link itself (this is called anchor text), and assign relevance to your site based on what that language is. For example, search the word “click here” in Google. Adobe comes up as #1 purely because so many sites say “click here to download adobe,” regardless of the fact that the term is not present on the home page.
  • Then the search engines look at the pattern in which links are built to your site. If it looks unnatural, the links may be disqualified or even penalized. The SERPS don’t like you trying to game their algorithm, so it’s important to be cautious and mimic natural link building patterns.
  • The search engines are looking at other factors as well, such as domain age, time spent on your site, etc. In short, if you’ve been delivering consistent quality content, it helps a lot.
  • They are also looking at page factors such as keyword placement, relevance, and density.

To build backlinks you can simply create content on any number free sites (blogger, Squidoo, via blog comments, etc.), that allow you to include a link back to your own website.

In an ideal world people will begin to naturally link to your site due to the strength of your content, though typically a little intervention is necessary to rank for a competitive term. And while Google frowns upon it, there are also many paid services that can help build backlinks for you.

By applying these simple rules, you can start to see improve your ranking for your target keywords. Land a #1 placement in Google for the right term and you might get thousands of new visitors landing on your home page every single day.

To learn more music marketing tips from Mike Toner and to get more at Renot Records:

Online marketing expert, Mike Toner is an in-demand consultant and speaker at seminars world wide. Toner speaks about the new music business, on and off-line marketing strategies for musicians, social media, performing, songwriting, recording, and the new frontiers of independent music made possible by the internet.

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