SEO is something, that as an artist or a band or record label, you may not have had time to consider, or, maybe you thought that SEO was something that didn’t apply to your website, or it couldn’t help (or you didn’t have a clue how to implement it).
Well, what prompted a ‘need’ for this post for me was the absolutely bewildering array of information, services and resources (good and bad) I found online, infact search Google for SEO and they will return upwards 0f 800 Million results. Phew.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation, to none believers!) is something you really should be thinking of for your bands blog or website just so you can make sure your website is on the first page of search results, if not at the very top (better).
I had to get my arse in gear when I discovered that my artist blog, 99th Floor Elevators, wasn’t appearing until the second page of Google results (and no-one looks beyond the first page right?) for some search terms, which meant, crucially people looking for official MP3 downloads were finding illegal file sharing lockers instead of my download page (and more about DMCA takedowns in another post!). So.
Do this, Google a few search terms for your band/label and see what the results throw up. Search for “your band name mp3”, “your band name, best known song MP3” and even “your band name” that kinda thing. If you’re not at, or pretty damn close to the top of the search results, you have some work to do. Thats where SEO comes in……read on.
Learn To Love The Google
Fittingly, it isn’t an SEO company that returns the top result either but the Wikipedia entry for SEO, followed by Google’s own ‘Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Webmaster Tools Help‘ guide.
What else? Well, I sifted through a whole bunch of good and bad stuff and came up with a pretty effective reading list for those of you who either want to set about doing your own SEO, or, read up on as much background as possible so you’re not completely bamboozled when that SEO guru you were recommended tells you how quickly he can dominate Google’s SERP’s.
Call it your very own SEO bullsh*t detector if you like. And when you think of SEO results, think long term not short term gains, there’s a few SEO horror stories that’ll make you think twice (or should make you think twice!) about using any ‘black hat‘ methodology or any kind of the more nefarious short cuts.
Here’s some quotes pulled directly from Google’s own SEO for webmasters page.
- Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.
- No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
- Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do.
- Choose wisely.
Where To Start With SEO
OK, its a little bit geeky and it will test you to the limit, but definitely worth a try is the SEOMoz SEO Expert Quiz. According to SEOMoz, “The SEO Expert Quiz has 75 action-packed questions and takes 30 minutes to complete.” It was pretty tough and I missed the ball with several answers in my rush to finish but the great thing is there’s a post-score analysis where they tell you where you went wrong. Brilliantly useful and educational.
Needless to say, all webmasters should heed to the ‘law of the Google’ and a good primer on what you should be doing and shouldn’t be doing to help position your website as high as possible in the search results is both Google’s own webmaster resources page and this PDF download on the basic’s of SEO, from choosing the right title tags, improving the structure of your URLs, Optimizing Content and even SEO for mobile phones.
Bing also have a thriving webmaster resources page, including detailed instructionals on SEO best practices.
Another bulging arsenal of SEO resources is from SEO Book and their Search Engine Optimization Tools page which features a pile of free and premium SEO tools from Firefox extensions through to web based SEO tools including things like a keyword suggestion tool and meta tag generator.
The authorative Search Engine Watch have the concise guide, ‘Back to Basics – SEO 101‘ whilst SEOMoz get a little more indepth with their ‘The Beginners Guide to SEO‘ which digs deep into every corner over ten very extensive chapters which you can follow in the web based version or hand over your email for the PDF download. Superb.
Other essential and detailed resources include, ‘SEO 101 Resources: Beginner’s Guides and Tutorials‘ from Search Engine Journal, which is a roundup of the best resources from around the web (and which mirror’s some of my choices here).
ArtDriver.com have another brilliantly curated list of tools ‘38 Free Online SEO Tools‘ which put me onto the Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool. Basically a killer little desktop app which, to quote the website itself:
“spiders websites’ links, images, CSS, script and apps from an SEO perspective. It fetches key onsite page elements for SEO, presents them in tabs by type and allows you to filter for common SEO issues, or slice and dice the data how you see fit by exporting into Excel.”
Very handy, oh and there’s a great free version too (actually I’ve concentrated on free resources all round in this piece). Very simple and straightforward to use.
SEO Glossaries & Title Tags
If you’re baffled by the terminology and search engine definitions (hell, I still am) then SEOBooks, ‘The Search Engine Marketing Glossary‘ should be a massive relief as should be the HighRankings ‘SEM/SEO Glossary‘ A to Z.
Dont forget the importance of your title tags with this ‘Title Tag SEO Best Practices‘ guide from SEOMoz either. Search Engine Watch also have a brilliant guide, ‘How to Write Title Tags For Search Engine Optimization‘ and sum things up well here:
“Title tags are part of the meta tags that appear at the top of your HTML inside the < head> area. Think of title tags like the title of the chapter of a book. It tells people and search engines what your page is about.
Title tags are also part of what makes people decide whether to visit your site when it shows up in the search results. The title tag should contain important keywords to help the search engine determine what the page is about.”
Desktop SEO & WordPress Tools
A few more desktop based tools that are worth trying are the browser extension/toolbar SEOquake which is available for Firefox (where it holds top spot for most SEO downloads), Chrome, Opera & Safari. SEO Doctor is another popular SEO extention (for Firefox only), there’s a detailed overview here.
There’s full lists of SEO extensions for Chrome here and Firefox here.
If you’re using WordPress (and millions are) then the ‘Best WordPress SEO Plugins For 2012‘ guide from iBlogZone is a great roundup, there’s even a ‘Part 2‘ and it covers all those SEO plugins you’ve heard of and some you haven’t. Nice.
Of course Yoast have one of the best and most popular WordPress SEO plugins around and their official SEO guide is equally as comprehensive, ‘The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For WordPress Sites‘.
SEO Audit Checklist
And, where would we be without an infographic . Search Engine Journal have a ’20 Minute (Or Less) SEO Audit Checklist’. Put together by Inmotion Hosting.
The guide is broken into the following components:
- Adjusting your browser
- Evaluating your homepage
- Testing the site’s global navigation
- Reviewing category and subcategory pages
- Checking for optimized content
- Analyzing your site’s off-page SEO
And finally (phew!) from Kunocreative.com is their neat PDF printout ‘The Search Optimization Cheatsheet‘.
PS. Just as I was finishing, came across this, ‘33 Free SEO Tools You Should Know About’ from WebGnomes. Great stuff. As always, please leave recommendations for all those hundreds of things I’ve probably missed in the comments. Enjoy!
Further Related Reading
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Musicians (Ryan Tanaka)
SEO for Musicians Who Feel Like They’ve Been Left Behind (CD Baby)
SEO for Musicians: Understanding Search Engine Optimization and How It Leads to Sales (CD Baby)
SEO For Bands: Tips to Use Google to Increase Fans and Book More Shows (LinchpinSEO)
SEO For Musicians: Handout PDF (Music Marketing Manifesto)
A Musician’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) (DiscMakers)
Link Building Guide: 26 methods to help boost your search engine rankings in 2012 (Dave Cain)
SEO, Why You Are Doing it Wrong (Search Engine Watch)
The Power of Keywords (SEO Book)
Five Common SEO Mistakes (and Six Good Ideas!) (Google Webmaster blog)
Free SEO Advice & Marketing Tips for the Music Industry (SEOMoz)
Some Key SEO Tips From The Top (Area239.com)