SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) is very important. Creative collaborators and colleagues are using Google to research you—often before ever meeting you. Let's start this blog by seeing your current SERP (or search engine results page).
Step 1: Google Yourself
Do a search for "your name"—but make sure the results are public by clicking the globe as shown below. You can also set your browser to "private" or "incognito" mode to create the same unbiased results.
If yourname.com doesn't show up, check to see if you're listed on google by searching for "site:yourname.com".
Still no luck? Submit your content to Google here.
Disclaimer: Now, before we go further, I want to acknowledge that many companies make lots of money helping with SEO. They really work in SEM—or Search Engine Marketing. SEO/SEM "experts" can be similar to those internet marketers promising to bring you thousands of new social media followers. There are tricks to raising metrics anywhere—but I'd compare them to the effectiveness and abundance of magical weight loss secrets. Ergo, I'm going to teach you what I know to be quality advice. Thus far, it seems to be working for myself and my clients.
Step 2: Create WebSite + Quality Content
Like me, Google believes in quality first. Quantity is the outcome. Why? Google doesn't want spammers or SEO senseis to skew results with snake oil tricks.
Google actually wants their users to find exactly what they need and are looking for. Just like the rules for raising an abundant social media following—consistent, high-quality content always wins. Cream rises to the top.
The good news is that as an artist you should be able to create this for yourself.
To start, avoid creating a static or "frozen" website. You're always growing in life and in your career. Stay relevant with a dynamic website—always creating (or curating) consistent, high-quality content.
I'm a fan of one-page websites—but that's a future blog. For now, I recommend having a blog on your existing website and featuring the latest post on your home page. I'm not talking about sharing how-to articles or lengthy journaling. I'm talking about utilizing a blogging platform to micro-blog your latest news. Share what you're currently working on and how we can learn more, see you or support your work. Google recognizes blogging and it's super easy to showcase your latest post on your homepage.
Beyond telling the Google bots you're active, blogging fresh and valuable content will make your homepage a dynamic one-stop shop that gives visitors a reason to come back. It wouldn't hurt to also embed your latest tweets or Instagram posts in the same area! A dynamic website drives return traffic—because there's always something exciting and new to see and read!
Step 3: Say your name. A lot.
SEO (and SEM) is really about having a targeted, specific and consistent message. In other words—utilize keywords. Since you are the business, consistent message and top keywords, try to put your name on more than one place on your website.
I recommend including it wherever possible in "meta data" (or hidden descriptions) as well as within your media. For example, your site title should at least be "Your Name". You may want to include other keywords like "photographer", "actor", "comedian" etc. in your site title—especially if there is more than one of you!
In terms of media, you can rename "IMG5678.jpg" or "REEL5678.mov" to "Your-Name.jpg" or "Your-Name.mov" before uploading them. You can also often "tag" media with keywords, descriptions/captions, as well as alternate text.
Step 4: Create link juju.
Link juju is about creating a spider web or inbound and outbound links. Quality link juju is key to SEO—don't get spammy with this step or you risk being penalized.
To start, be sure to have all of your social media channels link in to your website. Also, be sure to link out to your social media channels from your website—ideally in the header or footer of every page.
You should also link out to websites that may link to you—such as places you've worked or online articles where you've been mentioned. I do recommend these links open in another tab—so that visitors stay on your site as long as possible!
Try to have others link to your website when you're mentioned. For sure, link to your website when offering comments on other blogs, within your bios across the web and through testimonials on other sites.
For more information, check out these free tools from Google:
- Google Analytics: Track visitors and get a complete picture of your audience and their needs.
- Google Webmaster Tools: Get data, tools and diagnostics for a healthy, Google-friendly site.
- Google Adwords: Be seen by customers searching on Google. Only pay when they click.
- ...you may also be interested in learning How Search Works from Google.
Tony Howell is a digital strategist dedicated to helping you design your future—creating offline success from your online presence.