Nowadays promoting your music takes far more effort than just playing in bars and sending out your demo. You need to be active online and have a strong digital presence, all while still playing the bars and sending your music demo around. Lucky for you, many artists (even some of the A-listers) don’t have the best online presence, so even the slightest search engine optimization can have a tidal wave of effect in promoting your music and brand.
What is SEO
SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, is a digital marketing tactic for being found online. Simply put, when someone is searching in Google, you want your content to be at the top. The purpose of SEO is to have your content show up above your competition.
What might seem like a random list of websites on a search engine, actually isn’t random at all — far from it! When you search for something Google decides what they’re going to show you based on a number of factors. These factors are called algorithms. The idea behind SEO is to incorporate various strategies on your site to give search engines some contextual idea of what your site is about so that when someone is looking for “country music” they’re not going to get search results for heavy metal music.
SEO professionals (yes… there are people who do this for a living) create and implement various strategies, both on your website (on-site SEO), and elsewhere on the Internet (off-site SEO), to give search engines an idea of who you are, and what you do.
Why is SEO Important for the Music Industry?
Success in the music industry is all about being discovered. It used to be that as an artist you would spend all your time touring from bar to bar, selling your CDs, all with the hope of gaining traction and being discovered by someone influential in the industry. While this is still an important aspect of gaining fans, the Internet has brought an easier way of reaching new audiences.
It’s not uncommon for artists to attract the attention of fans and labels through the Internet. Being found online is the most important way to being discovered by new fans, and labels alike.
I’ve noticed that the majority of music industry websites are not properly optimized. Even some of the biggest names out there have issues with their websites and online presence that are hindering them from being found online. Even a relatively light optimization strategy could really boost your searchability.
In an industry that is so saturated, it’s not enough to be extremely talented – you need to have a top notch web presence to act as your stage.
SEO Quick Wins for Promoting Your Music
So, now we know that search engines use algorithms to decide what content to offer in the search results, what are the next steps, and what are some quick tips to start implementing SEO to get your music heard?
There are a ton of SEO strategies that you can start to implement, but chances are you don’t have the time to learn, or go deep into the highly technical aspect of SEO. But luckily there are basic things that you can do to get a little boost without getting too far into the deep end.
Here are a couple of basic SEO tactics to start with:
1. Start a Blog
Search engines, like Google, love fresh and new content. Starting a blog is the easiest way to create and publish new content on your website. A blog may sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be. The important thing to remember about blogging is to add content on a consistent basis. It doesn’t have to be weekly, or even bi-weekly – monthly is fine. What’s most important is to ensure that the content you do publish is high quality.
Before writing a blog, you would normally perform some keyword research to help you get some ideas of what to write that will provide some SEO benefits. However when you’re on the road or don’t have someone taking care of your SEO and digital marketing, a good rule of thumb is to think about a couple of phrases that prospective fans may be searching for on the Internet. Think about that search term (keyword or keywords) and be sure to naturally include those keywords – and variations of that keyword – a few places in the blog, and in the title of the blog.
There’s more to it than that, but this will at least get you on the right path and start thinking about creating new content for your site. If you need some more help, or want to go into further details, keep your eye out for a post on blog writing here.
2. Creating Backlinks
A backlink is a link to your website that is found anywhere on the internet, other than on your website. You know when you’re on a website and there’s blue text underlined (a link) that takes you to a different website when you click on it? That’s what a backlink is. Essential when another website links to your website, it tells Google that your site is a relevant and authoritative source. Backlinks are great for SEO, but be careful!
There are websites and services out there that sell backlinks. It may seem like a really great and cheap idea, but this is seen as a spam tactic to search engines. DO NOT BUY BACKLINKS! It may temporarily increase your rankings, but it’s a one way ticket to a crippling penalty (a penalty is essentially a slap on the wrist from search engines – it lowers your rankings and can even get you removed from any search results).
Some of the best, and quickest, backlinks come from citations. Citations are listings on directory sites like Yellowpages, Yelp, Foursquare, etc. Or some music industry examples would be Bandsintown, CDBaby, iTunes, etc. Start creating listings on these sites and be sure to add a link back to your website (remember, the link is what makes it a backlink).
There are many other places to provide backlinks, but it can be a little tricky – start with the citations for now, and then slowly work your way up to more advanced backlinking. Don’t worry — You won’t have to do it alone. I’ll help you!
SEO is a very important part of any digital marketing strategy. If you aren’t interested in doing it yourself, be sure to do your research before deciding on someone to help you. There are many people out there who practice what we call “black hat” SEO strategies. These are strategies that are manipulating and trying to trick Google. These tactics will ALWAYS end up getting you a penalty, or could even get you de-indexed from Google (AKA – you will never be found online unless someone types your URL into the browser). Be sure to find someone who has your best interest in mind and will help to properly get you found online.