There are a lot of ways to look for information or discover new content online, but when people want to find something specific they usually turn to search engines.
Practically everyone uses a search engine every day to find something, and some of those people are your fans, or could become your fans. For you as a musician the trick is to understand what they’re searching for when it comes to your music, and then providing great content that answers their search.
The internet may already be saturated with content, but improving your website to get more traffic from search engines can help you carve out your own space online. That makes search engine optimization (SEO) more important than ever, so let’s talk about some ways to get your band website ranking in those search results.
1. Know what your SEO goals are
Before spending time and effort optimizing your website for search, take some time to decide what you want to get out of it. Who exactly do you want to reach through search engines, and what will those people want? If you’re stuck on this, give our article about The fan journey a quick read.
For example - if you’re like most bands, you’ll probably at least want to reach people who are specifically searching for your band name. Maybe those people heard your music somewhere and now they want to learn more about you, listen to some other songs, and see what else you have to offer. Awesome - that’s where getting your website ranking in search results is really going to help.
2. Know your target keywords
When you know what your goals are, you can then work out exactly what keywords to try ranking for. Of course a good place to start, in terms of choosing which keywords to target, is your own band name.
That might be straightforward if your name is really unique, but it’s not always quite that simple. For instance if your band name is the same as other common terms, you might be better off trying to rank for something more specific. Like if your band is called “Autumn Leaves” you might be better off targeting keywords like “autumn leaves band” or “autumn leaves music”.
Take some time to really get to know what keywords you’re after, because they’re going to be the foundation of any SEO work you do. If you need more help figuring that out, read our article about keyword research for musicians.
Speaking of which, have you checked to see whether your website already ranks for your target keywords, or whether the right page of your site is ranking? Either way, you may want to make a habit of checking your rankings regularly. It will tell you whether or not you have more work to do.
3. Fill your website with great content
Content is the absolute foundation for everything in SEO. Without content you have no chance at ranking for anything. Which is why simply making a music website with some basic content is already a great start. Generally speaking, the more good content you have the better.
So, fill your website with your content. It has to be great content that your fans will appreciate. A mix of different types of content is good, making sure to include a good amount of text where it makes sense.
For example, make sure you at least add a well-written musician bio. Add your images and videos - making sure to title them with text. Add all of your shows and events with as much detail as possible.
And of course add your music, and maybe even your lyrics. Always keep your target keywords in mind. Your content should be the ultimate resource for whatever people are looking for with those keywords.
There are plenty of little technical SEO details you could spend (and maybe waste) time on, but if you have a great website with a lot of great content you’ll already be 90% of the way there.
4. Choose a great domain name
Your domain name is your web address, and just like a real-world address it’s how humans - and in this case search engines - find you. So in that sense it’s easy to understand why it’s important to have an official-looking address for your band website. Both humans and search engines will consider your website to be the definitive source of accurate information about your band, because it’s the one space on the internet that you fully own and control.
So choose a great, official-looking domain name for your website. A subdomain on a platform - like yourband.tumblr.com - just won’t do at all.
An address on your own .com domain is usually the best bet. You can’t go wrong with something simple like yourband.com - or if that’s taken then an alternative like yourbandmusic.com, or yourbandofficial.com.
5. Optimize your page tags
This piece of SEO advice is an oldie, but it’s still a goodie. There are a couple of tags that go into your page HTML code which don’t show up on your website, but are important to search engines.
First up is the title tag. The text in this tag is what people see and click on when your website shows up in a search engine result. It’s also what you see up in your browser tab when the page is open. What you want here is a clear, concise and descriptive title for your page that’s up to about 60 characters long, as a rule of thumb. Each page of your site should have a unique title tag, should read nicely for humans, and include some of your important keywords - like your band name.
Next up is the meta description tag. This one is also used by search engines in results pages. Again what you want here is a clear and concise description of your page content, in about 120 characters length as a basic rule of thumb. Again think unique on each page, human readable, and keywords.
6. Get links from other websites
Links to your website from other websites, aka backlinks, are extremely important for SEO. That’s because Google likes sites that are trustworthy, and one way it can tell if your site is trustworthy is whether other trustworthy sites link to yours. The more sites linking back to yours, the better.
Take note of the emphasis on “trustworthy” here, because no two backlinks are equal. Ideally what you want are authentic backlinks from great content on great websites that are topically relevant to your band. For example, your ideal backlink might be from a review of your music on a reputable culture blog that points to your website. That would be an A++ backlink for you.
But you don’t need to wait for the perfect backlink either. Make sure all of your socials and any platform you have a presence on are all linking to your website. Try to make sure, as much as you can and where it makes sense, that any time your band is mentioned online, there’s a link to your website.
7. Set up your site in Google Search Console
Head over to Google Search Console (you’ll find it if you Google it) and sign up or create an account, and then add your website. If your website is on an https URL, be sure to use that.
Then you’ll need to prove that you own your site, which you will see instructions for in Search Console. Usually this is done by adding a simple HTML tag to your website.
One of the advantages of doing this simple step is that it will help you get a knowledge panel in Google search engine results pages.
The other key step here is to add your xml sitemap, which is kind of a computer-friendly map of your site that makes it easier for search engines to crawl through it. If you use a website platform like Bandzoogle, this will be automatically generated for you and should be easy to find. If you use a CMS like Wordpress you may need to set this up yourself.
8. Create Wiki entries for your band
Search engines like Google use wiki sites as a source of reliable information for certain things, particularly for generating knowledge panels and other rich information in search engine results pages.
There are a few specific wiki sites that you should make an effort to create entries on for your band: Wikipedia, Wikidata.org, and MusicBrainz. Add as much detailed and relevant information as you can, add links to your website and socials where possible, and make sure everything is consistent across all the sites.
9. Edit your knowledge panel
As a musician or band you are a public figure, and therefore by Google standards you are a certain kind of “entity” that some people want to know about. If you’re well-known enough you might already have a knowledge panel that appears on the search results pages for your name. If not, the previous steps will help you get there.
Since a knowledge panel shows up so prominently when people search for you, it’s worth trying to make it as complete as possible. You can make edits to the information by getting verified on Google (hot tip - use the same Google account that you used to verify your site in Search Console) and then suggesting edits.
10. Use your socials
The “hub and spoke” concept is often used when describing the ideal online presence of a musician or band. When talking about SEO in particular, your website is the hub, but the spokes matter too.
The spokes are, well, everything else about you on the internet that isn’t your website, like your socials, YouTube, event listings, crowdfunding campaigns or any other platforms you’re on. Even your reviews and other press counts.
Search engines will reward you - your “hub” and your “spokes” - with more visibility if they see that you’re active, engaged and prolific. And that’s what fans want to see too. When people search for you, ideally they’ll find all kinds of recent and up-to-date stuff about you that pops up in search results.
Using all of the tools online available to you, and linking them all together through your website, will give you the best chance at creating a complete online presence to engage your fans.
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