SEO For Bands “The Optimized Preamble ;)”
Most of the stuff on Unsigned Band Promotion has a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) twist or theme, but I’ve not actually written an article or blog entitled “SEO for Bands”. However, I feel I need to. After going through my links I have for “Bands’ Websites That I Really Like”, I found to my amazement that All the bands had either deceased or given up their websites and moved to MySpace. I questioned three of the bands, asking, “Why did you give up your website for a MySpace profile”, in a nutshell they answered, “No action on the website, lots of action and new fans on MySpace. MySpace is the future”. They had become disenchanted with their websites and moved on, obviously they had not heard about ‘Search Engine Optimization - SEO for Bands’
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is a method of increasing the amount of visitors to a website by targeting the website specifically to a particular search engine, ensuring the website will be found in the result pages for targeted keywords.
If you use search engines, you know how they work at point of use. You go to your favourite search engine. Type in your search criterion. The search engine serves up its list of results. The process is keyword driven. So, SEO can be about predicting what keywords the searcher will use to find you, and making your website findable for those keywords (Sort of. A bit of website promotion there as well!) - simple!
Why Bother With SEO?
Short answer: Bums on seats, fame and fortune.
A longer answer: SEO will bring more targeted visitors to your website and thus, help build a bigger fan base and/or sell more music.
So many bands have a Splash Page as their opening page. A splash page is an introductory page to your band’s website, it often contains just a link to the band’s home page and an extravagant attention grabbing logo or some flash abomination. Splash pages in my opinion are a total waste of time (there are some exceptions, i.e. websites containing adult content). Why bother with SEO? Answer: SEO does not like splash pages, and that’s good enough for me ;) SEO likes Content. Do you want to create a splash? - Then take a long run on a short pier <LOL> No. But, seriously folks, SEO can help your band achieve its goals.
My Top 10 SEO Tips For Bands - in equal order of importance
1. - 5. Content
6. - 10. Connection
Content is: the actual textual content of each Web page, and the HTML coding.
Connection is: the way your website relates to and interacts with the Internet (for linking think networking).
The textual content includes: title tag, description & keywords meta tags, <h1-2-3-etc.> header tags, image alt attributes, <a> anchor text and title attributes and the main body of textual content.
The HTML coding includes: domain name, file names & structure, doctype meta tag, content-type meta tag, author meta tag. Clean and simple coding - check HTML with The W3C Markup Validation Service.
Connection includes: incoming or backlinks (links coming in from other websites), outgoing links (links that lead away from your website) and internal links (links that link to other pages on your website).
How To Apply SEO To Your Band’s website
Because there is so much stuff written about SEO on the internet, I didn’t want to produce a long list of sometimes debatable and boring, anally retentive facts like “Put your keywords in the opening paragraph” or “Don’t use underscores to join keywords”, I want to try and present the application of Search Engine Optimization, because a lot of bands’ websites look like an empty, poorly produced online brochure that only the most ultra committed super fan would return to. And a lot of bands’ websites have so little readable content on the opening page that even the most rapacious and brainy bot would instantly become a blethering dullard listing it. What’s missing from most bands’ websites is, a purpose to be there - a band’s website shouldn’t be a late 90’s online brochure, it needs - You Need an aim and a strategy.
Here is a scenario: You are in a new female fronted independent rock band from Reading in Berkshire (England), called “The Flying Footstools”. You are about to release your debute album “Pink Fluff” in four months time. You’ll have 500 glass mastered, replicated CDs which cost, say, about £500 to sell at gigs, from a friendly local record shop Music Man Reading, on CD Baby and by email-cheque-post from your website for, say, about £9. You will have a launch gig at your favourite local venue The Turks Reading to promote the album. –That’s enough scene setting to be going on with!
The Flying Footstools’ aims:
to sell all of the CDs (some will be given away for promotion).
to fill the venue (The Turks) and pave the way for repeat gigs and follow-up gigs at other venues.
to give 10% of the net profits from the sale of the CDs (say about £150) to a local charity.
O.K. - start off by giving your band’s ’site a quick Website Check to make sure all’s well.
Now think “LOCAL”, remember - local.
Obviously you want to be found in the search engines for your band’s name, in this case (as with many bands) the band’s name (The Flying Footstools) is a unique three word combination, so no problem there, but, band promotion starts with being found for something else other than your band’s name. You need to consider “What is someone going to type into the search engine to find you and what you want to be found for?” Adding in a local element will make your website much more competitive. Do some keyword research (what you want to be found for) - here are some suggestions for this example:
The Flying Footstools, Rock Bands Reading, Rock Bands Berkshire, Music Man Reading, RG1 7PX, Record Shops Reading, Record Shops Berkshire, Music Shops Reading, Music Shops Berkshire, The Turks Reading, The Turks Pub Reading, RG31 5BJ.
Like farming, gardening and vegetables, SEO and linking in my view should be organic. Organic SEO and organic linking are free and natural, it’s being found in the top ten search engine results without paying for the privilege, and linking with websites that are like minded and relevant to yours. Organic links tend to receive much more traffic than non-organic (unrelated) links. As I said, “for linking, think networking”.
Incoming Links [Backlinks] are the most important. It’s easy to create profiles and give yourself a link, some are more valuable/better than others, you should have these: Facebook, GarageBand, Last.fm, MySpace, PureVolume, ReverbNation, SlashMusic Channel 4, UBP - Micro-Site. Backlinks however, from the local media, can be much more difficult to achieve. But, promoting a local charity may help your cause :) Local media examples: BBC - Berkshire - Entertainment, Radio Berkshire, The Local Press. Some links like CD Baby’s, should be reciprocated. Tip: I’d use the album cover as an image link to CD Baby.
Outgoing & Reciprocal Links outgoing links should be reciprocated by: the venue (The Turks Reading), the music shop (Music Man Reading), the local charity, other local rock bands and any other local associations you have made (you’ll probably have to ask, but don’t pester for them). Keep it mainly local to start with, then expand further and further out until you are truly an international band.
The Main Body of Textual Content once you have checked through your website and sorted out a strategy, it’s time to get hammering away on the old keyboard :( I’d make the opening page an online version of your Press Pack, with links pointing to every corner of your action packed and purposeful website. Target an audience by overstating your genre and defining who you are. The main body of textual content is everything a search engine can read and that starts off with (your URL!) the Title tag. Here’s an example of the Title tag:
“the flying footstools rock band reading berkshire - music man oxford road - the turks london road”
Next the Description meta tag, e.g.:
“The Flying Footstools are a rock band from Reading Berkshire, purchase our album from music man in oxford road and we’re playing at The Turks, London Road, we’ll see you there soon.”
And here’s an example of text, it represents about 30% of the required textual content, its aim is to complement the Title tag and the Description meta tag:
“The Flying Footstools are a new female fronted independent Rock band from Reading, Berkshire. Our debute album “Pink Fluff” is being sold through Reading’s friendliest record shop, Music Man, Oxford Road, Reading, RG1 7PX. Step in and get a £3.00 OFF Flyer for our launch gig at The most awesome local venue - The Turks, London Road, Reading, RG31 5BJ, where we will elevate your spirits with our insanely edgy, party rocking songs, ‘coz the music of The Flying Footstools is all about having fun. Big fun.”
Of course you need more content than that, but, if you then included a mini-biography, a mini-review and a micro-gallery, you’ve then got an exciting opening page that includes all the information that your audience is looking for. If the page downloads quickly and they’re only one click away from everything on your website, the chances are, they will spend time looking around. As for the search engines, they will see enough content to know who and what you are. They will see more than just your name, and will be able to list/index you for something else other than your band’s name, and that is SEO for bands with a little bit of promotion thrown in.