A Quick Guide to SEO for Artists
By Thomas Boldt
It’s hard to go anywhere on the internet these days without running into the acronym ‘SEO’, and the online art world is no exception. For those of you who haven’t heard of it before, SEO stands for ‘search engine optimization’, and it’s one of your most powerful online marketing tools. It can be the difference between obscurity and massive popularity, but it can take a bit of work to get the best results. In this short guide, we’ll go over some of the basics to help ensure that your artwork gets found online.
The most important thing to keep in mind may seem obvious, but many artists are so used to thinking visually that it may not occur to them: because virtually all web searches are made using text, the more text-based information you include about your work, the easier it will be for people to find you. It doesn’t matter where you’re hosting your work, if every single piece is just listed as ‘Untitled’ with no additional information, you’re dramatically limiting your search presence.
Instead of simply listing the title of your piece and the medium, try to include as much information as possible. Each piece of work has a story that accompanies it, and sharing this with your audience is not only good for your artistic profile, but helps search engines determine exactly what that particular page is about. Tagging each piece with the medium and the colors used can also be a good idea, as well as several descriptive terms that define the particular type of work – abstract, landscape, sculpture, etc.
Additionally, be sure to include your name on every page! Most artists are searched either by their own name or the name of one of their pieces, so the more search engines associate your work with your name, the more traffic you’ll receive.
If you’re hosting your own work on a personal website, it’s always a good idea to choose a domain name that includes your own name. This will ensure that search engines prioritize your website whenever anyone searches for you, as it’s clearly a perfect match for their query. If possible, it can help to include an additional word that describes your particular artistic speciality, such as www.johnsmithsculpture.com, www.janedoephotography.com or something similar.
Finally, one of the best pieces of advice for boosting search traffic to your site is one that most artists hate: maintaining your own personal blog. Writing doesn’t always come naturally to artists, but it’s worth taking the time to update your blog regularly. The more content there is on your site, the more likely it is that you’ll receive what’s known as ‘long tail traffic’. Long tail traffic can be one of the best ways for smaller sites generate traffic, because it’s hard for them to compete on popular search terms such as ‘painting’ or ‘photography’, but much easier to rank highly for more specific terms such as ‘natural abstract photography’ or ‘architectural photography’.
This quick guide just barely scratches the surface of the complex and ever-changing world of search engine optimization, but it’s a great way to ensure that your website is as prepared as possible!