I’m on a mission: to simplify SEO for artists. 

It’s something I love doing for my own brand, but I also know it can get pretty nuanced pretty quick. Good news? It doesn’t have to.

So I’ll be showing you some super simple strategies you can apply to get your content actually ranked.

But it’s definitely a long-term thing. 

Ranking in Google – or other search engines – definitely does not happen over night. But the patience pays off. 

Ranking articles translate to organic, automated traffic, generating leads and sales while boosting your authority, audience and brand.

These are invaluable assets for the modern artist. 

Now enough small talk, let’s get it!

Outline

    Introduction: Who I Am & Why SEO Is Awesome

    So why am I focusing on marketing for artists anyways? 

    I guess it comes down to me also being an artist. And I love being able to share what I’ve learned.

    I started playing guitar sometime during middle school and have been writing music ever since. 

    I’m also an avid snowboarder and travel-adventure filmmaker with a love for drawing and abstract painting.

    The funny thing is, I always believed that art and business were like oil and water – complete opposites.

    But then I learned business. 

    I actually got an MBA – to compliment my anthropology degree of course (hmm…).

    Long story short, I ended up learning digital marketing, SEO and social media strategy – mainly for my own music and creative goals.

    SEO is the foundation of content marketing. 

    Content marketing means we’re finding topics our target audience is searching for and creating relevant, value-adding content for them. 

    People find our content because of SEO. 

    I soon realized that creating useful content for people is actually pretty fun. 

    But more importantly, it means we’re actually showing up for our audience when they’re asking questions that we can answer.

    And people are searching for solutions and answers a lot.

    As reported by WordStream, there are 3.5 billion searches made every day and that volume grows by ~10% each year!

    Couple this with social media strategy and the countless free resources and tools, it suddenly becomes clear: there are no gatekeepers.

    Still, it’s all too easy to come up short, not know where to begin or have the “wrong” strategy. 

    So, I hope this article provides some clarity and direction.

    As a starting point, ticking the three boxes below will definitely be needed to take full advantage of SEO.

    Website for Hosting

    Social Media Account

    Keywords & Content Strategy

    I thought I’d mention social media, not just because it’s so relevant for artists.

    But also, being able to link to your socials directly from your website or blog while also linking to your site or blog post from your socials will definitely improve your overall content strategy. 

    OK, I think it’s time to dive in and learn SEO!

    Step 1: How to Find A Keyword (The Free Way)

    Keyword research is the first step and ultimate foundation to your SEO strategy. 

    Doing keyword research means you exploring specific phrases and questions that people in your target audience are searching for. 

    3 Traits Of A Good Keyword

    • Relevant To Your Target Market & Your Brand
      • Will your content provide real value to your target market?
      • Does it solve their problems and pain points?
    • Is A Topic You Can Add Real Value To 
      • Be sure you’re knowledgeable about the chosen keyword topic 
      • We want to always be adding real value to our audience
    • Is A Target Keyword You Can Realistically Rank For
      • If you’re a new site, niche down
        • For example, “artwork for bedroom” is general and difficult to compete for
        • But “artwork for bedroom feng shui” is less competitive and easier to rank for
      • Competing against big, well-established sites for competitive keywords is very difficult

    BUT, Competitive keyword posts are not a waste.

    These can be pillar pages, which you can link to and drive traffic to from your other posts

    So where and how do you find keywords? One of the simplest ways is by using Google.

    Ever notice how Google will auto-suggest phrases for you after you start typing a particular keyword? 

    This is extremely useful for SEO purposes. 

    Essentially, this is Google saying “hey, people are searching for this keyword“.

    How to Find A Keyword for SEO

    Step 1: Start Typing Your Seed Keyword

    A seed keyword is just an initial idea, that first search you plug into Professor Google. 

    Notice how (if) Google completes your phrase as a recommended search. 

    This is the autofill feature.

    Step 2: Use Google Autofill Feature 

    Google autofill finishes search enquiries for you and only suggests phrases that people are actively searching for.

    This means we should focus on exact phrasing provided by Google. 

    After starting to type your seed keyword, choose the closest recommendation and search the results.

    Step 3: Explore the First Page of Articles 

    After searching for a keyword, explore the articles currently ranking on the first page. 

    Are they big, well-established sites? 

    Are they blogs with low-quality, short or old content? 

    Look around and find ways you can improve and do better than what’s there now.

    Step 4: Explore Similar Phrases Being Searched 

    If your initial seed keyword looks too competitive, check out the the ‘People also ask” & “Related searches” features for more, potentially niche, ideas.

    Step 5: Rinse and Repeat

    Exploring Google for keyword ideas and finding suitable phrases is ongoing and can quickly turn into hours down the rabbit hole.

    Keyword research pays off in the end in dividends. The compound effect of consistent SEO will go a long way in your artist branding and business growth.

    Google’s great, but if you prefer to use an actual keyword research tool, check out Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest

    It’s completely free and provides useful insight and strategy!

    $ Tip Jar $

    Feeling stuck with keywords? Try the alphabet soup technique!

    Start typing a keyword idea and the first letter of the next word, such as “artwork for g“.

    See what Google suggests for the letter “g“. Do the same thing for other letters and words in the phrase.

    Step 2: Ideation & Creating Keyword-Focused Content

    We talked about keyword research above, which is how we can find relevant topics. 

    But what does creating content actually involve and what exactly is value-adding content?

    For starters, content can come in many forms and used in many ways. 

    Video, blogs, podcasts and social media posts are all great content formats.

    We can cross promote a single piece of content to extend our reach while lengthening the shelf life of our content.

    Cross promoting simply means posting the same piece of content across different platforms.

    For example, one long-form YouTube video can be cut up as micro-content clips for Instagram and scripted into a podcast or a rewritten for a blog post.

    But covering at least two content strategies is enough to start, such as posting on social media while also hosting a blog.

    Choose a content strategy that feels right for your brand, personal preferences and somewhere your audience is likely to be.

    Now let’s talk about value-adding content. What constitutes as value?

    I see value as being one of (or a combination of) the following:

    Entertaining Content

    Inspirational Content

    Educational Content

    So armed with topic direction from keyword research and identifying which platforms and which content format(s) to focus on, we can start creating.

    By rinsing and repeating this process of keyword identification and content creation, you will build trust, authority and brand over time.

    $ Tip Jar $

    Retarget readers of specific articles or pages with customized ads. 

    According to Spiralytics, retargeting website visitors increases the likelihood of a conversion by 43%!

    Retargeting requires installing the Facebook Pixel code, which allows you to “track” visitors. 

    Learn how to install the Facebook pixel here.

    Step 3: How to SEO-ify Your Content: A 3-Point Checklist

    Let’s remember, I really wanted to simplify the whole SEO process with this article. 

    So while there are of course many advanced strategies – which I briefly cover in the last section below – if you at the very least just employ the following three points, you’ll be off to a great start.

    In fact, all of my currently ranking article just follow this simple formula.

    So let’s look at the three things you must do to SEO-ify your content.

    Article Word Length

    This concept revolves around the skyscraper technique

    Essentially, you analyze the articles that currently ranking for your target keyword phrase. 

    How long are they? How helpful are they? 

    Can you improve it and make it better and longer?

    As a good rule of thumb however, aim to write posts that are at least 1,000 words in length. 

    According to research from Backlinko, the average post ranking on page 1 of Google is 1,447 words long while HubSpot recommends writing blogs that are between 2,100-2,400 words in length for 2021.

    So, you may want to think twice if you’re considering a less is more approach with your SEO strategy.

    $ Tip Jar $ 

    Optimize your image alt text for search engines, so they pop up in Google image searches.

    This is especially important for artists since your work is usually visual. 

    Learn more about image optimization here!

    Keyword Placement

    OK, so once you have your keyword focus and article planned out (or written), how and where do you put your keywords?

    Let’s break it all down.

    The simplest keyword placement strategy is to make sure you your keyword shows up in at least two places.

    In the Title

    (Also called an H1 tag)

    In the Beginning

    (The First Paragraph)

    From here, just write your content organically.

    Do not “keyword stuff” to try to rank higher and quicker; the Google algorithm is smart and will pick up on this.

    Just write with the goal of providing real value and creating a positive user experience.

    You can also include your target keyword within your subsection headlines (H2 tags) – if it’s natural and makes sense, that is.

    And if you’d prefer to have a more concrete strategy, trying to make sure your target keyword pops up every 500 words or so is a good strategy. 

    Otherwise, your target keyword and close variations of it will naturally be used while writing, so I generally don’t stress too much about this. 

    The User's Experience (UX)

    A positive user experience is the main goal for most companies. 

    So creating content with the user experience in mind is a surefire way to rank better (while building positive brand image and customer loyalty).

    This is because Google’s algorithm recognizes good content and websites that have a positive UX.

    Blogs with good UX entice people to spend longer amounts of time on that page, signaling to Google that the page is good.

    For simplicity, we can ensure our content has positive UX in two main ways.

    Formatting for Positive UX

    Create with a mobile-first mindset 

    Avoid long-running paragraphs 

    Add visual elements, such as graphics, images and video

    Notice how this blog post is easily scannable and has many boxes highlighting main ideas? 

    That’s UX.

    Content Creation for Positive UX

    Most importantly, be sure your content is actually helpful

    Make content that is engaging.

    For example, inviting the reader to add a comment or using quizzes or other interactive features.

    Make content that’s user-friendly, like making it easily scannable and avoiding too much “fluff”.

    So when you’re creating your content for Google, just remember to create with your end consumer in mind.

    Will they find this content helpful?

    Is this blog post easy to read, easy to skim and does it make sense?

    Auditing ourselves can go a long way. In fact, as I write this post, I’m currently doing a huge overhaul of my other posts.

    I realized my old post were not user-friendly or easily scannable – yikes!

    Again, don’t stress too much about being perfect and “on point” 100% of the time. 

    It’s still a learning journey and you’ll continually get better, finding “your flow”, so just remember to have fun and enjoy it!

    $ Tip Jar $

    You can get the most out of your articles by cross-posting blog content onto sites like Medium, LinkedIn and Quora to expand your reach.

    Learn more about cross posting content here!

    SEO Keyword Ideas for Artists

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    So if we’re managing everything above with ease and want to take our SEO skills up a notch, then you’ll want to start exploring more advanced tactics and SEO mechanics. 

    Let’s start with Google indexing. 

    Essentially this Google recognizing your content and cataloging it in their database.

    If Google were a library and your article was a book, then indexing means Google is putting it on its shelves.

    This is of course required if we actually want to show up in the search results. 

    There are a couple of ways to index a site:

    • Wait for indexing to happen automatically
    • Manually index your post via  the Google search console.

    For the first option, once you post an article to the internet-verse, Google will find it eventually. 

    The alogorithm performs site crawls, which is sort of like a reconnaissance of your site, seeking out new content and updates.

    But rather than waiting, which can take weeks or even months, you can manually index your site using the Google Search Console. 

    Basically, you can request page indexing and monitor various other ranking analytics and data.

    I highly recommend it!

    It can be a slightly “blah” process though, so here are a few resources to learn more:

    Familiarizing yourself with Google analytics and the search console is a fantastic starting point. 

    But there are definitely other advanced tactics to further optimize content for the search engine.

    More Advanced SEO Strategies To Explore

    • Backlinking
    • Understanding Google’s EAT guidelines
    • AI SEO
    • Voice SEO
    • Boosting on-site engagement
    • Discover optimization and snippets
    • Local SEO 

    Recommended Read: 17 Advanced SEO Techniques

    The "Other" Search Engine Artists Should Be Using

    Google is definitely the biggest focal point for bloggers and content creators. 

    After all, Google search dominates with over 85% of the market share!

    Still, there are other choices worth exploring. And if the image of this section didn’t give it away, I’m talking about Pinterest here.

    Did you know that Pinterest is actually a search engine? 

    Think of the platform like a visual Google, which is especially useful for artists.

    To get started on Pinterest (as an artist looking to market themselves), start off with creating a business account.

    You can switch over to a business account pretty easily if you already have a profile. 

    Read how to create a Pinterest Business account here!

    Pinterest requires making “pins”, so there’s some extra legwork for “posting” on the platform.

    But the site can be incredibly useful for reaching a large audience quickly (compared to Google, which can take many months). 

    This is great for new bloggers.

    You can also pay for ads using Pinterest and the users on the platform tend to be buyer motivated and high-income households.

    Essentially, users are more likely to convert, buy something and engage or share your content.

    Recommended Read: Pinterest Marketing Guide

    Conclusion

    So there it is, simplified SEO for artists. 

    Although things can quickly become technical and complex, just remember to focus on the user experience, word count and keyword research and placement will get you started off on the right foot.

    Exploring more advanced concepts is not required but can definitely give you a serious SEO boost – when you’re ready, that is.

    So that’s all I’ve got for you today – thanks for stopping by!

    Let me know in the comments: what do you think artist content should look like or focus on?

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