A properly optimized band website is essential to any musician who wants to improve their SEO. It’s the most fundamental content asset that you need to have, and everything else builds off of it.
Before you start optimizing your website, you should have a pretty good sense of what you want to accomplish with your SEO, and at least a rough strategy about how to do it.
If you haven’t thought about it much yet, head over to Part 1 of this multi-post SEO guide for musicians. You’ll start out by getting familiar with your SEO strategy, the Fan Journey, and other topics we’ve covered. Then, you’ll be ready to optimize your website.
Here’s how to optimize your band website for SEO:
1. Add band website SEO basics
2. Make your band website your online hub
3. Link everything to your hub
4. Optimize your website navigation and indexation
5. Optimize your title tags & meta descriptions
6. Create content pages to target keywords
7. Use widgets sparingly on your website
8. Get people talking, and linking
It’s a good idea to get a basic understanding of the key concepts that matter for band website SEO, so we’ll start by offering you a very light overview of general best practices, and linking out to good SEO advice resources where you can do more research.
The rest of this post, after this section, will focus on issues that are more specific to band websites. So let’s look at four key things your website should have in place to be well-optimized for SEO:
Have content on every page
First and foremost, you need a good amount of quality content on your website. That means every page of your site needs a healthy mix of text, images and other features. The content on each page on your website should be organized, descriptive and generally user-friendly.
The page code should be clean, image files should be as small as possible, and keywords should be used appropriately. All content needs to be readable by search engines, and each page should address a specific topic. It’s ok if you don’t have a lot of content yet - even a tidy one-page website will get you started.
You can learn more about on-page SEO here. Bandzoogle will help you with some of the technical aspects automatically, but it’s up to you to put great content on your pages.
Organize your website structure
Having an organized website structure means organizing your content across the different pages of your website so that search engines can easily access, crawl and understand all of it.
If you have a basic one-page website, then you generally don’t have to worry about this. But once you have multiple pages on your site, you need to make sure they have a clear hierarchy, are linked together properly, and are included in an XML sitemap. It also means making sure you don’t have any duplicate content on different pages.
It’s mostly up to you to structure your website content for SEO, but if you use Bandzoogle we take care of some of the technical things for you.
Use fast and reliable hosting
Your website and all of its content needs to be available online somewhere for people and search engines to access at all times. It’s important for SEO that your website is fast, secure, reliable, and user-friendly on all devices. That means using high-quality web servers, a CDN, caching, an SSL certificate, responsive HTML and CSS, and a whole bunch of other technical stuff that only a web developer understands.
If you use Bandzoogle, we take care of these things for you. We are constantly working to improve the speed and security of Bandzoogle websites, and all of our templates are responsive across all devices.
Get links from other websites to yours
Popularity matters for SEO, and as a general rule the more backlinks your website has - that is, links from other websites pointing to your website - the more popular search engines will think your website is.
The more people around the internet mention your name or music, and link to your website, the better your SEO will be. You can’t fake this, but there are things you can do that we’ll dig into further down.
Let’s take a minute to talk about why it’s so important to make a music website for your SEO. Think about your band website as a crucial hub for your entire online presence. If you don’t have a band website, you’ll be limited with the SEO you can actually do. And, by the way, a profile page on a website such as Bandcamp is not a substitute for a proper website, even if you’re using it with a custom domain name.
One of the key roles your website plays in music SEO is as a hub of your “entity.” An entity is any “person, place or thing”- such as a musician or band. Google keeps track of all entities it can identify on the internet, and uses what it knows about them to generate things like Knowledge Panels in search results.
Google has been pretty clear that it considers an official artist website to be the hub of an entity. When properly optimized, Google can associate all of your profile pages and social accounts around the web with your entity — it can figure out what content on the internet is about you.
Having a website that is properly linked with everything else will help Google understand what your entity is, so that it can show the best content to people when they search for you.
Another key role your website plays is as the most trusted source of information about you. Google has been clear that it will generally recognize your official website as being the most authoritative source of information available about you. In other words, your website holds more weight with Google than anything else, which makes it a top priority for SEO.
So what you can do is update your website to include as much up-to-date information about your band as possible. And of course if you don’t have a website for your band, then take the time to make one.
Create a professional website in minutes with built-in SEO options to promote your music. Try Bandzoogle today!
Even though Google is great at connecting the dots, it still needs a bit of help—which is the “optimization” part of SEO. Linking all of your properties together with your website is one of the easiest things you can do to help Google connect the dots and associate all of your content around the web with your band entity.
The most important thing to do here is to link to your website from all of your band profiles and any content you control anywhere on the web. If you prefer to link to a smartlink page then create a smartlink page on your website, rather than using an external service or a URL shortener.
Just like what Taylor Austin Dye did on their Instagram page here.
Link to your band website from everywhere you possibly can.
You can easily add links to your site from places like your:
- Facebook page
- Twitter page
- Instagram page
- Youtube channel About page
- Youtube video descriptions
- Soundcloud profile
- Soundcloud track descriptions
- Wikipedia entry
- Bandcamp page
- Bandsintown page
These are just some of the common ones, but you get the picture.
So what you can do now is take an inventory of all of your band’s social profiles and other pages around the internet, and link to your band website from all of them.
In places where you want to use a smartlink page, make those pages on your website and link there instead. If you prefer, your smartlink pages don’t necessarily need to be visible to visitors in your main website navigation menu.
And of course you can and should also do the reverse and add links from your website to your various profiles around the web.
Most band websites don’t have many pages, which means Google shouldn’t have too much trouble accessing them all. This is especially true if you use a platform like Bandzoogle, because a lot of this is already taken care of for you.
Although “onsite SEO” can be very complex - especially for large websites, or websites on other CMS platforms like Wordpress - here are a few general basics that can help Google easily crawl through your band website and read all of your content.
Register your website with Google Search Console
Google Search Console is an essential tool for SEO, and if you like to nerd out on data it’s also fun to check out.
Start by creating a Google Search Console account for your website. You’ll need to follow a few steps to verify your website and activate your account. Then you'll want to submit an XML sitemap, and Bandzoogle has a tool to help make that a little easier for you.
Once you’ve verified your site and added your sitemap, there isn’t much else you need to do for now. But we would encourage you to look through the tool and get familiar with what’s there.
Create a clean website structure
When your website has multiple pages, it’s important to structure the content across the pages of your website in a way that is tidy and organized. Everything should be clearly structured, with descriptive page URLs, and without any redundant information across different pages.
Here’s a made-up example of what the URLs on a band website might look like in an ideal scenario:
Notice how all of the URLs are clearly named, so that you can understand what is on the pages by looking at them. Everything is neatly organized in a folder structure, and there are no symbols like hashtags or exclamation marks.
Also—this is very important—notice how nothing is duplicated or redundant in the website structure. It’s clear how every page on the website serves its own unique purpose.
It’s not always possible to have a perfect structure with perfect URLs, but the goal is to get as close to this ideal scenario as you can.
A clean, organized structure not only helps Google, but the page URLs also appear visibly in the SERPs. Fans will be more likely to click on a URL that describes what they’re navigating to.
Here’s a basic example of good clean, descriptive URLs used by a Bandzoogle member.
Give your band website a clean, descriptive URL structure.
What you can do now is take some time to find and check all of the URLs of your band website by looking at your sitemap generated by your CMS, using a free crawling tool like this one, or even just checking Google’s index of your website (see the next section of this post). Often your website can have more pages on it than you realize.
If you have a website with many pages, you may want to lay them all out in a spreadsheet to help organize yourself. Make sure all pages are organized and structured—with descriptive URLs—and all serve a unique, singular purpose on your site.
If you find any issues with your structure that needs to be improved, then make the necessary edits to your content. If you need to edit any URLs, be selective and use 301 redirects, as it’s best not to change the URLs of existing pages unless you really need to. Better yet, just be sure to keep these best practices in mind as you add new pages to your website.
Check your website index for issues
A simple way to explore under the hood of your website structure is to take a look at what Google has in its index for your website. This can be a pretty informative way to get a sense for how Google sees your site, and may uncover some issues you weren’t aware of.
The “Coverage” section in Google Search Console is a useful place to start. You can also check manually by going to Google search and entering “site:[yoursite.com]” into the search bar. Like this:
A simple trick to see what Google sees on your website.
When you use the “site command” search operator, Google shows you the URLs it has found for a website and added to its index. You also get an idea of how it displays your website pages in SERPs. When you look at the results for your website, you generally don’t want to see anything unexpected.
A common SEO problem is duplicate content, which arises when you see more than one indexed URL that pulls up the exact same (or very similar) page content.
A straightforward band website probably won’t have major issues, but if you do find something that you think may be causing a problem—like duplicate content or URLs you don’t recognize— take a closer look and see if you can identify where the problem is coming from.
Title tags and meta descriptions are snippets of content that only appear in your website code, and are not visible on your website. But they are important for SEO because search engines display them in the SERPs.
Nice descriptive tags will help your fans understand what they’re seeing in the SERPs, and will be more likely to click to your website.
It also allows you some control over what appears in SERPs, because when you don’t add these tags, Google will pull whatever text it wants from the page to populate them in SERPs, and sometimes they don’t look great.
Here is an example of what an ideal title tag and description might look like for the Shows page of a band website:
This is generally what you want your SERP result to look like.
Clean, descriptive text like this will help Google understand the page better, and fans will be able to easily understand what they’re seeing in the results page. You can preview how yours might look in the SERPs with a tool like this one.
Here are some basic ground rules for optimizing these tags.
- Include keywords in your tags naturally, by making them descriptive and complete so that they really describe the content of the page. Be straightforward and to the point.
- Make sure your band name is included at least once in every single title tag and meta description, on every page. Make them look nice and consistent across pages. Adding a pipe “|” symbol is one good way to do this, as in the example above.
- Never use the same title tag or meta description twice. Each page on your website should have completely unique tags.
What you can do now is review the title tags and meta descriptions for all pages of your band website. Write or rewrite them as needed, to include your band name and a good description of the content of the page.
Here are some good instructions on how to do it properly for your website:
If you’re using Bandzoogle, you can easily edit title tags and meta descriptions on your site in the SEO options for each page.
If you read our post about keyword research you’ll remember that there are many different kinds of possible keywords that fans might use to find information about you.
Although there are exceptions, for most keywords it’s generally preferable that fans find your website when they search, rather than a different website.
For example, keywords along the lines of:
- wolfmother band (you could have information on your website for fans to learn about who you are)
- wolfmother tour (you could include your tour dates, and possibly even sell tickets, on your website)
- wolfmother t shirts (you could sell your merch from your site)
- wolfmother songs (you could stream and sell music from your site)
Let’s check out a specific example of that.
Wolfmother does not sell merch on their website.
There’s an obvious problem here, which is that 3rd party sellers are dominating the search results, which means the band themselves are losing out on sales they could be making directly from their fans. That’s actual lost revenue for the band and a missed opportunity to connect with the fan.
The Wolfmother website does rank further down the page, despite the fact that they don’t sell merch on their website. Instead, they link to a 3rd party store that is not appearing in search results.
The solution to this problem is to create a dedicated page on the Wolfmother website for t shirt sales, and to optimize it for the relevant keywords. Done well, that page would have a very good chance of ranking above the 3rd party sellers, and create more direct-to-fan merch sales for the band.
So what you can do next is refer back to keyword research that you’ve done for your band. Create a page on your website for any keyword—or group of similar keywords—that you want your website to rank for in search engines.
Just fill the page with great content oriented around that keyword—including text, images, and anything else relevant. Give it a descriptive URL, title tag and meta description. Don’t fluff out your content or jam it with keywords—just include thoughtful, useful information that’s relevant to what you think your fan was searching for.
Remember, Google will give your band website preference over other websites for any keywords related to your band. All you have to do is have the content on your website.
It’s very common for bands to use widgets on their band websites, and that’s ok. There are plenty of good reasons to use widgets.
But, there is also a very good reason to use them wisely. It’s common to see a page on a band website that has only a widget on it and nothing else.
This can be a problem for your band website in a few ways.
The first problem is that not all widgets are created in an SEO-friendly way. Some widgets are difficult for Google to see, even when they’re right there on a page. And that means you basically have an empty page as far as Google is concerned, and that’s not good for SEO.
The second problem is that the content in a widget is duplicated from somewhere else. You can get away with a little bit of duplicate content, but as a general rule it’s not good for SEO.
The third problem is that not all widgets include the correct schema markup for rich results where you need it.
There are some simple solutions to these problems. To prevent duplicate content or empty pages, you can simply make sure to always have other text content on a page, along with the widget. It should be unique content that only exists on that page and nowhere else.
You can also check pages where you rely on widgets to display music or events to make sure the correct schema is there, using Google's Rich Results Test tool.
So what you can do now is to check all pages of your website where you use widgets. Make sure there is other content on the page other than what’s being displayed from the widget, and make sure there's schema where there should be.
If there isn’t any content, think about what kind of text content you can add to your page (even if it’s just a little bit), and add it. If there isn't any schema where you need it to be, consider using a different widget.
Backlinks are extremely important for SEO—generally speaking—and the more links you have from authoritative websites the better. But as an artist you don’t need to spend a lot of time worrying about backlinks.
Instead, worry about getting genuine press coverage. Backlinks will come naturally when blogs and magazines are talking about you, and Google will notice the buzz.
With that being said, while you’re doing PR or social media, you can try to get natural backlinks where you can. If nothing else, make sure the press knows about your band website so that they link to your actual band website instead of one of your other profile pages.
Sometimes it can help to look at websites that are already linking to your website. That may help you come with ideas about who else might be interested in linking to your site.
To get that kind of data you can use the Links report in Google Search Console. It will provide a sampling of who’s linking to your website.
Use your Google Search Console to see who’s linking to your website.
You can also check Open Site Explorer, a free tool that may give you some more data on your website’s backlinks if you want to dig deeper.
The Takeaway: Optimize Your Band Website
This was a whirlwind tour of band website SEO optimization. There’s a lot to know, but you can focus on a few key things:
- Build a slick, fast, mobile-optimized website for your band
- Interlink your website with all of your other profiles around the web
- Make sure your website has a clean, organized structure
- Make sure each page on your website is SEO-friendly and optimized
- Build pages on your website to target keywords that you want to rank for
- Take a careful look at any widgets you use on your website to create content
- Do as much online PR and buzz-building as you can, and get backlinks where possible
Your website isn’t the only thing that matters for your band SEO, but it’s one of the most important. So it’s worth taking the time to make the right optimizations in the right places.
Read other articles in this series:
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