Band Promotion Using Search Engine Optimization

What's On Your Home Page?

"I like to compare the opening page to the opening song of a bands set! You don't open with your slowest number, you go straight for the jugular, get the audience's attention right from the off. Therefore both of my opening pages have everything the visitor needs to know about the radio station and/or the show depending on which site they visit. The menu is highly visible, therefore navigation isn't going to put people off continuing through the site." - Martin Devaughan GD 2004

Since I started looking at bands websites, I've noticed that many have a problem with their website's opening/ home page (I'll call it the index page from now on). The problem is: no content! A search engine's first point of contact with a website is usually the index page. It's the default opening page on your web server, it's (normally) the page with the highest rating, it's the page people link to when they link to your website, and it's the most important in terms of website promotion, because it's the page that almost everyone sees first. The index page is your shop window. To say that the index page is important, is an understatement.

The index page has to work on two levels, it must satisfy the visitor and the search engine. The visitor is satisfied with good design, usability and entertainment. The search engine is satisfied with content.

A Visitor Scenario

Let's say a person has seen your gig promotion flyer and wants to listen to you before she comes to your gig. She remembers your name "The Flying Footstools" and types it into a search engine. CLICK - she clicks on the appropriate #1 result. She arrives at your index page (it takes 30 seconds to download @ 56kbit/s) which displays an artistic image of your band (she's impressed) with an Enter Here image link centred underneath on a black background. At the bottom of the page there is: a hit counter, a copyright notice and a link to the website designer in very small text. CLICK - she clicks on the Enter Here image link and is taken to your band's Home Page (it takes 20 seconds to download @ 56kbit/s). CLICK - she clicks on Downloads, another image link and is taken to a page (it takes 10 seconds to download @ 56kbit/s) with a small list of MP3s. CLICK - she clicks on an MP3 link (it takes 5 minutes to download @ 56kbit/s). After the download of the MP3, she has finished with your website. So, that's 4 clicks and a minimum of 1 minute (in this example @ 56kbit/s) trying to locate the MP3! Not good.

The Typical HTML Code For That Scenario

<html>
<head>
<title>The Flying Footstools</title>
<link rel="stylesheet" href="style.css" type="text/css">
<script language="javascript">
<!-- {
/*some sort of weird javascript*/
image_swap();
useless_javascript_here();
} //--></script>
</head>
<body bgcolor="000000">
<div align="center">
<p><a href="home.html"><img src="images/theband.jpg" width="500" height="400"></a></p>
<p><a href="home.html"><img src="images/enter.gif" width="120" height="60"></a></p>

<p><a href="http://free-counter.com/"><img
src="http://free-counter.com/images/counter.gif?
tag=band&j=n" border=0></a>
<script src="http://free-counter.com/counters/track.jsp"></script></p>

<p class="very_small">© 2005 The Flying Footstools all rights reserved.</p>
<p class="very_small"><a href="http://www.WebsiteDesign.com/">Website Design</a></p>
</div></body></html>
That html code was lifted from an existing (2005) band's website! ~ Was That Your Band's Index Page?

A Search Engine Scenario

This is how a typical search engine sees my example index page described above:

The textual content:

  1. The TITLE Tag: "The Flying Footstools"
  2. The visible text: "© 2005 The Flying Footstools all rights reserved."
  3. The link text: "Website Design"

The images x 3:

  1. theflyingfootstools.com/images/theband.jpg
  2. theflyingfootstools.com/images/enter.gif
  3. free-counter.com/images/counter.gif

Page links out x 5:

  1. theflyingfootstools.com/home.html
  2. theflyingfootstools.com/home.html
  3. free-counter.com = 2 links
  4. WebsiteDesign.com

The HTML problems in my example index page:

  1. No document type declaration tag
  2. No META description tag
  3. No META keywords tag
  4. No content-type META tag
  5. No author tag
  6. No attribute "ALT" in the images which is required
  7. No "TYPE" attribute (type="text/javascript") in SCRIPT for hit counter
  8. Incorrect use of & in hit counter link (should be: &amp;)
  9. No CSS (cascading style sheet)

Some notes:

  1. So very little textual content, just: "the flying footstools © 2005 The Flying Footstools all rights reserved. Website Design", have a look at your webpage through a Search Engine Simulator.
  2. "The Flying Footstools" is a unique three word combination, so my example band would be #1 in the search engines for their name. However, that would be it, they would not be found for anything else! If their name was common like "The Smiths" they wouldn't exist with a webpage like the one above!
  3. Download speed of 30 seconds at 56 kilobits per second (kbit/s) is very poor.

How To Sort Out Your index Page

Actually, most bands index page would be sorted by removing it and opening up with the page it links to!

In an attempt to maximize a website's performance, many Website Promoters use SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) techniques. SEO is a method of increasing the amount of visitors to a website by targeting the website specifically to a particular search engine to ensure that the website is accessible and will be found (sorry if that sounds a bit garbled). There is a long list of search engines, so it can be expensive and not always totally effective! However, most people use Google, so make that your focus.

I advise you to create a simple website that conforms to: W3C standards (w3.org) and accessibility standards, is honest and content rich, then you will not have to worry about SEO and browser compatibility. And it may increase your music sales by as much as 25% without having to change the look of your website (much) or spend money on promotion. Here is the full explanation:

<DOCTYPE - META tag>
Every HTML page should have the document type declaration so browsers know what they are looking at. The document type declaration will NOT help with SEO, but it will help the page to render correctly in the browser and may make it load a little faster. It Will help with band promotion slightly.

<TITLE - tag>
This is the most important tag, not a META as such, it goes in HEAD! Most search engines use its content for keywords. Keep the title tag short. Put your band's name first if it's a common name/ word - last if it's not, use lowercase and no punctuation. It Will help with SEO and band promotion.
e.g: "rock band reading - the flying footstools"

<DESCRIPTION - META tag>
Not quite as important as the title tag, but still important! Basically you need a short readable sentence with minimal punctuation of no more than 150 characters including spaces. Put your band's name first, use lowercase, only use one comer and end with a full stop. It Will help with SEO and band promotion.
e.g: "the flying footstools are an indie rock band from reading berkshire, on the first saturday of each month we play at the black duck in henley on thames."

<KEYWORDS - META tag>
The keywords META tag is a bit of an anomaly, as the so called experts are divided whether to include it or not. I say include it because the odd search engine and directory still use it. Only include the most frequently used keywords contained within the title, description and the webpage, use lowercase. It Will help with SEO and band promotion.
e.g: "the flying footstools, rock band, reading, berkshire, black duck, henley on thames"

<CONTENT-TYPE - META tag>
The content-type META tag tells the search engine and browser that the document should be rendered as plain text and interpreted as HTML. It also contains character encoding information (normal = ISO-8859-1), which is very important for how the webpage is interpreted and displayed by the browser. It May help with SEO! It Will help with band promotion.

<AUTHOR - META tag>
The author tag helps with authenticity (also, put the email address within an <address></address> tag also read about "rich snippets"). It May help with SEO and It May help with band promotion.

<CSS - stylesheet>
I've found that search engines like and understand Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) - so don't try to fox them by using V.small or invisible text. They also help with the clean, simple and consistent coding of the website, and will ultimately reduce the time it takes to make any future style changes (the FONT tag is being depleted). It Will help with SEO and band promotion.

<IMG ALT="">
You should always use the image "ALT" attribute which is required, make it descriptive, use keywords. If the image is part of a cookie, include the alt tag but leave it empty. Optimise images so they download quickly. It Will help with SEO and band promotion.

Content and Linking
Content and linking are the most important parts of a webpage. My typical example above has virtually no textual content on the page, just twelve words and a © symbol, and only four links, one of which links to the website designer, another one links to the counter (get rid of the counter and get Google Analytics).

Rich Snippets Video

Image and images DO matter, but you might be surprised to know that they are not the most important things on a band's website; CONTENT is. Fans and the music industry are looking for your: Biography, Contact Details, Downloads, Gig Listings and Press Pack. Link to these from your index page. And maybe create a four or five line mini blog that includes: the date, the band's news, next gig info etc... with links to the full versions or information on the relevant pages (keep it updated). Image and images do matter - that part is up to you - however, the page should download in about five seconds max. at 56K, so be careful not to use massive images (lots of Javascript can also slow the download time).

Use headers, the H1 tag is the most significant of six levels, but just use H1 to H3. The first H1 tag should be as near to the BODY tag as possible and repeat the title of the webpage. The other subheadings (H2 and H3) should include the keywords and/or keyword phrases that you most want to be found for.

Example:
<h1>The Flying Footstools</h1>
<h2>The Black Duck, Henley on Thames</h2>
<h2>Rock Band Reading</h2>
note: don't forget to set the style and position of the headers in the CSS.

Use descriptive textual links where possible. You can use the TITLE="" attribute, which displays a block of text that is usually the title of the destination file, when the cursor is passed over the link. The linking layout should be consistent from page to page. Ideally, don't include any links that lead the surfer away from the website on the index page. If you've paid for a Website Designer, they shouldn't be putting links on your website's index page, ask them to remove it and put it on your links page. Content and Linking Will help with SEO and band promotion.

Multimedia
Never use auto-streaming of music on initial load, it's very bad form and slows up the download speed to a standstill at 56K. Always let the surfer choose. Include your 'best' MP3 download as link from the index page. Multimedia will NOT normally help with SEO, it Will help with band promotion. Note: high quality and entertaining multimedia can have a very positive effect on SEO, by encouraging people to link to your website!

This Is What Your Visitors See Now

Well, the visitor sees an exciting opening page that includes all the information that they are looking for. The page downloads quickly and they're only one click away from everything on your website. The chances are, they will spend some time looking around.

The search engine sees 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 as well, and that IS Band Promotion.

Now all you need is loads of incoming links ;)

Get a link now from UBP @ Band Links add URL

Read: The Most Frequently Found Website Promotion Mistakes and: Links and Linking - The Dark Art

Written by Ian Robson
IanUnsigned Band Promotion help musicians and artists to get their websites noticed by fans, search engines and the music industry in half the time they could do it on their own. Find UBP on and Twitter. Ian has been working on website promotion techniques since 1994.

 

Band Promotion Using Search Engine Optimization is offered to you under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License, which means: it's yours to use as long as you Attribute the work to Unsigned Band Promotion and Link Back. See: © copyright