***There is more recent version of this article titled SEO for Artists Lesson 3: Critical On-Site SEO Setup. Please read it instead.
If there is one thing for certain within the art industry, it’s that SEO is a viable channel to generate traffic. However, the amount of competition, amount of traffic you can generate, and your ability to rank well will largely depend on your subject matter and your specific niche.
If you’re trying to rank for “beach art” – good luck. It’s too general, and the competition will already be well established. Let’s take a look:
Notice that the entire first page of results are mainly large, national players. This is a sign that you haven’t found a defined-enough niche yet. If this is the case with you, before proceeding any further, we recommend reading this post in order to target a niche and give yourself the best chance at success with your art business.
On the contrary, if you’re trying to rank for “California Beach Art”, this is a much more defined and targeted niche. Let’s take a look:
Here, you still have some large national players, but you also have some less-than-relevant results on this page. By “less-than-relevant” results, we are pointing out that the SEO titles you see don’t contain the phrase “California Beach Art”. This means when your site does, there could be an easy opportunity for your site to get ranked here without a crazy and expensive SEO campaign.
At the end of the day, Google is looking to display the most relevant search results they possibly can. If they don’t, people will stop using their search engine, and they’ll stop making money. Therefore, if you want to rank for “California Beach Art”, then all you need to do is create a website (or section of your website) that is all about California beach art. If your site contains more content and images about California Beach Art than anyone else, you will be the most relevant website, and you will likely rank well.
But you not only need to create a relevant website; you need Google to recognize that you are the most relevant website as well. This is where SEO implementation comes into play. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), in plain terms, is giving Google what they want, how they want it. When you’ve got the most relevant website, and Google agrees, that’s when you’re money.
So that’s what we need to do, and you can get started by focusing on four key areas of your site.
I. HOME PAGE
This is your absolute top priority and by far the most important page on your website. What you put on this page will send the strongest signal about your website to Google. Google knows that a home page usually defines the site within, and so that’s exactly how they treat it.
Therefore, your main keyword phrase(s) (ie: “California beach art”) should be present in various places on this page, such as:
A. SEO tags
Within your ASF site manager, click on your home page, and then click on the SEO Options tab, as seen below:
- SEO Title – This is critically important because this will be headline that google uses when displaying your listing in the search results. It must contain your main keywords. For example, in the case of California Beach Art, we would put “Shop for California Beach Art | Beaches of California”. This will give us broad coverage over what people may type in to find this type of art.
- Meta Keywords – Here, you’ll want to put in your main keywords separated by a comma, such as “art, california, beach, beaches, photography, prints, originals, limited editions”
[side note: Its widely said that google no longer places value on meta keywords and has not for years. However, Its also said that other search engines still do. In our opinion its easy and wont hurt so why not include them] . In addition, it will probably help tell Google what your site is about.
- Meta Description – This text is critically important because it will appear as the sub-text in your listing that Google displays in the search results.Therefore, it will not only matter from an SEO perspective, but whether or not people will actually want to visit your site after reading it. In our case, we might put “We specialize in California beach art and photography. Browse hundreds of images, all that can be purchased as original paintings or limited edition fine art prints.” This is not only highly relevant to Google, it is informative and enticing for the potential visitor.
Here’s how our finished Home Page SEO tab looks:
B. First few sentences of content
Adding at least a few sentences of content on your home page will provide serious SEO strength to your website. The same approach should be taken as with the meta description.
In our case, we might add: “We specialize in California beach art & photography. Browse hundreds of images, all that can be purchased as original paintings or limited edition fine art prints. See our selection of beach art from San Diego, San Clemente, Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Manhattan Beach, and more.”
Notice our decision to add a string of popular beach cities within California. We feel that an addition like this will make our website highly relevant for our keyword phrase, especially when compared to the competition.
C. Image “Alt” tags
An “alt” tag is a way of providing Google with a description for your image. In HTML, the tag is added with: alt=”keyword” – so your finished image in HTML will look something like:
If you are using the Billboard feature with your ASF website, here’s how to add alt tags for your images
If you are using the standard WYSIWYG Editor, here’s how:
As always, your alt tags should contain your main keywords. But again – don’t duplicate page to page. Say you have 20 images of Laguna Beach beaches. It might be tempting to put “laguna beach beaches” for all 20. Don’t do this. Instead, find something unique about the image and use it to describe the images in more depth — Google will love this. For example, “Laguna Beach crashing wave on beach” and “Laguna Beach surf and sand”.
II. STORE/CATEGORY PAGES
Apply steps A and B above to all of your Store/Category pages. The store/category pages allow you to define your niche even further.
In our case, we might have a category called “Laguna Beach Art”. The SEO title might be “Laguna Beach Art & Photography | Laguna Beach, California”. Notice we are still keeping our main keyword “California” in our title. While our SEO focus for this particular page is to rank well for Laguna Beach art, we are still reinforcing our relevancy for the keyword “California” to google.
When it comes to adding a couple sentences of text, you can do so in your ASF site manager by editing the “Lead Content” or the “Ending Content” areas, as seen below:
Here’s how it appears on the published site:
III. PRODUCT PAGES
Again, here you’ll apply steps A and B above to all of your product pages. Here, your content will be defined as much as possible. For example, our SEO title for one of our products might be “Sunset on Main Beach | Laguna Beach California Fine Art”.
Here’s how to edit your SEO information for each product within your ASF site manager:
IV. GET A FEW LINKS POINTING TO YOUR SITE
If you haven’t done so already, post your URL (i.e. www.yoursite.com) on your Facebook page, Twitter page, or anywhere else you can. Because Google regularly scans these websites, it will direct them to come to your website and index it with your new SEO information.
WRAPPING IT UP
Completing your basic SEO setup is your first step of many to start ranking well in the search engines, and to ultimately start receiving free traffic from them. This is called “on-site” SEO.
We feel that this is one of the most critical steps you can take to get your website right in front of people who are directly searching for your subject matter and are looking to buy. Because it takes time to rank well, the sooner you complete this process, the better.
Start with your home page (most important to get completed right away), then do your store/category pages (2nd most important), and then move on to your products (very important, but also the most time consuming). Dedicate some chunks of time aside to getting it done — you will thank yourself later.
We will address more on-site SEO tactics such as content generation as well as “off-site” SEO tactics such as link building in future posts.